THE MAGPIES- A Short History
It all began at the end of 1982, when the QGFA decided the formation of searate clubs was needed to boost the profile of the game in Brisbane. For season 1983, the city was divided up on a geographical basis, North, South, East and West. Four sets of jerseys were purchased and given to the fledgling clubs. The motley crew that made up the new Southern Suburbs Gaelic Football Club, as it was then named, opted for the black and white colours that are traditional Brisbane Souths colours in most team sports.
That first year was very successful due mostly to the fact that most of the team also played together on Saturdays with the Salisbury Soccer Club. With two nights a week soccer training under Tyrone man Tony Gallagher (a fitness nazi if there was ever one) the Magpies went the season undefeated beating a young Easts team in the inaugural Championship final. Having reached the top so fast there was only one way to go the following year; down. There was a general lack of interest, numerous forfeits, with more people interested in having a good time than playing ball. As a result there were two last place finishes in 1984 and 1985. Prominent in those early years were Mick and Colleen McGrath, Brendan and Gaye Tangney, John and Pauline Murtagh and Brent and Carolyn Nolan, most of whom are still actively involved both on and off the field.
Things improved the following year with the club once again being competitive on the field and having a ball off it. Socialising and the consumption of copious amounts of amber fluid have always been a major part of the Souths charter. It was an unfortunate drink related incident at the 1986 Australasian Games in Adelaide that led in part to the Magpie resurgence in 1987. Three of the club's senior players returned from that trip with a mission. Souths HAD to win the Championship.
A special effort, boosted by the arrival of the "Godfather" Seamus O'Kane led to the ultimate prize. That was the start of the famous four in a row sequence of Championship wins in 1987, '88, '89 and '90. The organisational brilliance of "Brisbane's most famous Irishman" played a major part in the success of those years. In 1991 there was a semi-final loss to the eventual winners Sarsfields with whom there had been a fierce rivalry throughout the late eighties. There was another win in the 1992 decider over Norths followed by defeat to John Mitchels in 1993.
In 1994 however there was what most at the club would describe as the best win ever. The team took the field in that year's grand final with thirteen fit players and a couple of "cripples". Star centre-half back Mick Hayes, from Liscannor, hobbled around at corner forward yet at the end of the day captain Noel Drumgoole lifted the coveted O'Kane cup before a star-studded but somewhat bemused John Mitchels team.
There was a flat period during the mid-nineties with only a couple of minor trophies. A resurgence began in 1999 due in part to the maturing of some young local players and the League title and Brisbane Shield were secured in that year and again in 2000. The holy grail of the O'Kane Cup was eventually reclaimed in 2001 under the guidance of Denis Troy, with a team featuring plenty of Souths stalwarts such as Pip Healy, Des Egan and Brian Watt along with a couple of fresh faces from the homeland, in particlur Derry Hunt and Tom Shine from Gaeil Colmcille in County Meath. Another O'Kane Cup would follow two years later, before a new generation of Souths players would begin to emerge.
The Ladies side had been more successful in the late nineties, inspired by the likes of Collette Byrne and Genevieve Healy. They won back to back championships in 1998 and '99, followed by another champsionship win in 2002. The club grew with the advent of the Ladies competition and the Reserve grade, where Souths won championships in 1998 and 2000, and became a club in the true sense of the word.
In the mid to late 2000's a fresh influx of players arrived in Brisbane from Ireland and helped to re-energise and carry the club forward, helping it to grow into the club it is today. The likes of Diarmuid Devereux, Chris "Git" Canavan, Ray McLoughlin, Danny O'Brien, Paddy Guiney, and Domhnall McKeogh were instrumental in regaining the O'Kane Cup in 2006, and joined by the likes of Gerry McGrath, John O'Regan and Stevie O'Brien they won it again in 2008. These men would go on to provide the backbone of Souths through the late 2000's and early 2010's.
The reserve grade team added another championship in 2009, but despite a number of close calls over the last few years, neither of the mens teams have been able to add some championship silverware since. After a number of years where current players had to step into the management role, former Souths player and manager Johnny McDonnell, assisted by fellow 'old boy' Pip Healy, took over the Souths mens team last year. After a heartbraking loss after extra time to John Mitchels in the Championship semi-final, they are primed for a good run at reclaiming the O'Kane Cup this year.
The Ladies team endured a flat period during the late 2000's, but under the guidence of Gerry McGrath and Colin Farrelly, followed by Ronan Brady they have gone from strength to strength, with players such as Nikki Newman, Bridget O'Brien and Grainne Heduan showing the way. They have developed into one of the best teams in the competition, narrowly losing in the Championship final the past two years. This year they will be aiming for third time lucky, and hopefully they will get over the final hurdle and claim th echampionship they have worked so hard for.
The growth of the Ladies team has played a huge part in the development of the club. There is a year round social scene which just gets bigger and better every year. It can be difficult to get the whole lot in, but we try hard.
As it stands the Magpies have won eleven Senior Championships, four Ladies Championships and three Reserve Championships. Hopefully there is many more to come! Souths Abú.