Club History

The History of Oranmore Judo Club 1983-2016

The Oranmore Judo Club was founded in 1983 by John Allen, a student of Galway’s R.T.C now known as G.M.I.T, when he took up the sport under John Craven. One of the first things John did was to purchase suitable mats for the club, which cost around €10,000. This he funded by organising a monster raffle.

In 1984 the one year-old club organised the Quincentennial Connacht Judo Championship. By the late ‘80s Oranmore was the second most successful junior club in the country. Only the Yamakwai club from Belfast could outscore Oranmore. John Allen was an outstanding player, but his greatest skill was his ability to empower young players from all of south Galway to play their best.

John left for Canada and his brother Tony stepped in. The junior titles that the club had been winning soon translated to senior awards; producing players on the National Judo squad and on the International Judo Team.

“The emphasis of the club has always been to bring young players into the sport,” says Tony Allen. “The club started out with a handful of players, but by encouraging participation even as young as five years, the Oranmore club now has around fifty members.” The club is not allowed to take younger players for insurance reasons.

The club’s flourishing junior squad testifies to his approach. But judo is not just about awards.

Judo means ‘the gentle – or flexible – way’. It is not about weight, it is about balance; it is not about strength, it is about skill; it is not about size, it is about attitude. One of the youngest members of the club, when asked why he liked judo, replied, “I like meeting my friends, I like doing the breakfalls and doing the throws. It’s fun”. Which is what any sport should be about.

New members are encouraged to enrol in the autumn to ensure that newcomers start at the same level and progress at a similar rate. The dojo, where the action takes place, is open to Juniors at Oranmore Community Centre from 6.30pm every Wednesday and Friday during the season and 7.30 for Seniors.

Yours in Sport,

Anthony Allen
4th DAN