Ballina revives Shannon Medals Tournament

Shannon Medals – Ballina 2023 with Ger Cafferkey, Dylan Thornton, Keeva Beglin-Sweeney, Padraig Holmes and Linda Beglin-Sweeney. Picture: John O’Grady

The weekend after next sees an important GAA event taking place in Ballina, with the revival in the town after a three-decade gap of the Shannon Medals Football Tournament. This is part of the Ballina 2023 celebrations with football teams from Mayo, Donegal, Tyrone and Roscommon taking part in a tournament first contested in 1960.

In a unique collaboration, on Saturday 25th March, Ballina Stephenites, Ardnaree Sarsfields, Knockmore GAA and Kilmoremoy LGFA will welcome visiting teams from St Eunan’s of Letterkenny, An Charraig Mhór Naomh Colmcille of Tyrone, Roscommon Gaels and Mayo Gaels, for a one-day series of games at Senior and Intermediate level in venues across the town.

The Senior League schedule has just been announced and the first games will throw in at 1pm and the event will run until 6pm that evening, using pitches throughout the town, with an evening of entertainment planned afterwards. Ardnaree Sarsfields will also host an Intermediate game, with details to be announced, and on Sunday, Kilmoremoy LGFA will host an underage blitz. The tournament will be supported throughout by volunteers from the local clubs and Ballina 2023, and GAA supporters are invited to come along to the venues and enjoy the action for free. 

The full schedule of games in the Tournament is here.

The competition format will be a blitz-style league. Each team will play five games in total and everyone will play each other once. Games will be 30 minutes long (15-minute halves), 15 a-side, with unlimited subs. Subs will be made through a fourth official. The league rules are 3 points for a win, 1 point for a draw.  If two teams end on the same points, score difference will be used. In the unlikely scenario of equal scores, a penalty shoot-out will decide the winner. 

The revival of the Shannon Medal Tournament represents Ballina 2023’s aims of honouring the past and inspiring hope for the future. Lead organiser of the event is former All-Star Mayo player Ger Cafferkey, who’s still plying his trade at club level with the Stephenites.

The original Shannon Medals Tournament was initiated back in 1960 as a fundraiser for improvements to James Stephens’ Park, and visiting clubs at the time included Tuam Stars, Dunmore MacHales, Castlebar Mitchels, Clerical Students, Western Command and Claremorris GAA.

Over the years, the event became a much beloved highlight in the west of Ireland GAA social calendar, as well as offering good competitive games for the participating clubs. The Tournament is named for Ballina native and donor of the competition’s original gold medals, Dick Shannon. Dick lined out for Ballina Stephenites and New York GAA, where he eventually settled. 

The revival of the tournament brings with it the question – where are the Shannon Medals today? Are there former players or family members out there with a rare Shannon Medal in their possession? If so, they are warmly invited to get in touch with Ballina 2023 via email to, so they can be acknowledged on the day.

For event news and updates, visit and Ballina 2023’s social media channels.

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