Founded in 1986 by the un related Anne Hayes from Lissycasey and Johnny Hayes, Lanna, Lissycasey, Fergus Rovers Ladies Gaelic Football Club is a parish organisation in Ballynacally and Lissycasey in Co. Clare which at present has teams at U 8, U 10, U 12, U 14, U 16, Minor and Intermediate Levels while in 2014
a new unit Gaelic4Mothers&Others was introduced.
Following on from the establishment of the Clare Ladies Football Board in August 1983 which just had competition at Senior level in it's inaugural year, Anne Hayes set up a club in Lissycasey in 1984 which played in the Maroon and White of Lissycasey G.A.A. Club and participated in the three competitions available to them, U 14, Minor and Junior levels. In their first year they reached the U 14 final but were defeated by Kilmurry Ibrickane 7-11 to 2-5 at Lahinch in the first ever U 14 final to be played in Clare. A year later they were back in the U 14 final this time in the B grade when at Cooraclare in a most entertaining high scoring game they lost out to Kilmurry Ibrickane 8-7 to 5-9.
A Club existed in neighbouring Ballyea from 1983 to 1985 under Johnny Hayes with just a Senior team and many of the Ballyea players were from Ballynacally. In 1984 Ballyea contested the first ever Senior League final in which they lost to Ml. Cusack's 2-5 to 2-3 at Miltown Malbay. Also in 1984 Ballyea qualified for the Co. Senior Championship final where at Roslevan, Ennis they drew, Ballyea 3-2 Clonbony 2-5. The replay was played in Cooraclare where Ballyea lost 3-3 to 0-3. In 1985 Ballyea returned to Miltown for the Senior League final a repeat of the previous years where this time they won their one and only title on a score of 1-4 to 1-0. They also contested that years Senior Championship Final but lost to Clonbony 0-4 to 0-3 at Labasheeda.
Johnny Hill from Lissycasey played a huge role in the early years of Fergus Rovers and was manager of all three club teams in it's first year assisted by Johnny and Christina Hayes.
As there were no funds initially Johnny Hill got his hands on a set of Blue and Amber Jersey's that were used previously by a Garages Inter Firm Gaelic Football Men's team that he was manager of and so they became the club colours. For well over a decade that one set of Jersey's were used by all club teams.
Eventhough the club was new on paper in 1986 the majority of the players had been playing football for two or three years. Therefore the foundation had been laid and success followed in various age groups. That first year of Fergus Rovers was unique in terms of silverware. The first of nine senior championships were won defeating St. Bridget's of Liscannor 1-13 to 0-0 at Lahinch. Prior to this the Junior Championship was captured defeating Kilmihil at Cusack Park. This would have been the first time that Fergus Rovers players played in the Co. Grounds. The U 14 B title was won against Kilkee by 2-1 to 1-3 while the Minor B title was also captured defeating Newmarket on Fergus at Roslevan. A truly remarkable year, it was only fitting that it would be celebrated in style and so it was when on January 2nd 1987 over four hundred parishioners had a truly enjoyble night at a Gala Dinner Dance at The Auburn Lodge Hotel, Ennis.
Numerous titles were captured in the early years thanks to great efforts by the players and by a small dedicated group of team mentors ie. T.J. Kelly, Johnny Cleary, Maura Quinlivan (Doohan) and the aforementioned.
Fergus Rovers provided many players to Clare teams and when the County won it's first All Ireland Championship at Adult level, the Junior All Ireland in 1991 no less than ten Fergus Rovers players were on the panel who were managed by Johnny Hill.
Two Munster Senior Club Championship finals were contested in 1990 and 1993 but were lost to the famed Ballymacarbry of Waterford while a Munster Senior B Club Final was also lost to Donoughmore of Cork in 1997. Since 1988 quite a number of Fergus Rovers ladies lined out for Munster in the Annual Interprovincial Tournament while Clare's first football All Star Award also came to the club in 1990. Regular contestants at the Annual All Ireland Club 7s in Dublin since 1987 the club had a very strong team in the mid/late nineties. From forty participating teams they contested the semi final in 1995, the final in 1996 before eventually winning the title in 1997, some achievement. That team was managed by Jim. Doohan and Johnny Cleary.
As the years went by more competitions came on stream in Clare and as they did Fergus Rovers always entered them.
One of the highlights of the clubs year for the past nine years has been the hosting of the Annual U-10 Blitz which has proved very popular and enjoyable.
In 2008 the club celebrated the 25th Anniversary of Ladies Gaelic Football in the parish. Local businesses and individuals were most generous with sponsorship and as a result each player and official were presented with a commemorative hoodie with the newly commisioned club crest. A Fun Day was held at Lissycasey G.A.A. Pitch while a social event took place at Fanny O'Deas where a selection of "Reeling Back The Years" Photo's were shown on D.V.D. Presentations were made to the founder members Anne Hayes and Johnny Hayes, the first official team mentor Johnny Hill, to his mother Margaret Anne the club's Life Honorary President as well as to Mary Keane for her work down through the years.
Nowadays there are a lot more demands to run a club. All competitions are round robin which is good as it gives players more matches but with more matches there is more expense. Fergus Rovers has always ran on a tight budget and fundraisers such as "Guess the Score", "Church Gate Collection" and the "Wren" on St. Stephen's Day have become annual events while Bingo was introduced on Good Friday 2013 and continues on that day each year.
Proper coaching is of the utmost importance so with this in mind all Club Coaches completed the FUNdamentals coaching programme in 08. FUNdamentals is the first step in the Coach Development Programme and is an excellant introduction for those already involved and those who have an interest in coaching. The elements of the player pathway are covered along with good coaching practise, ABC's of Gaelic football, group management, child protection and coaching a session. It was a six hour course and is certified by Coaching Ireland. A year later the Level 1 course was undertaken over two days. This course looked more in depth at coaching principles and practice. Both courses have been designed by coaches for coaches and can only improve our game. The Fergus Rovers coaches received certificates where were certified by Coaching Ireland.
Titles have been scarce in recent years but it is not for the want of trying. Fergus Rovers are fortunate to have exceptional volunteers who give freely of their time and energy to mentor all eight teams and run the club affairs while also contribute to the Co. Board in terms on volunteers.
One of those volunteers, founder member Johnny Hayes was the recipient of the Annual Hall of Fame Award in November 2010. This award is given annually to one individual in the association who has given exceptional service. Johnny has been a stalwart at club, county, provincial and national level. He is perhaps best known as a referee who refereed close on forty All Ireland Finals which is remarkable.
The Website which was launched on June 23rd 2011 is the latest phase of Development within the club. It should be a great source of information for all players, mentors and officials as well as supporters both at home and abroad. It reached 100,000 hits in January of 2015. Great credit is due to Nollaig Griffin who updates it regularly.