When Father Joseph O'Hagan was appointed to St Peter's Church at the start of the 1940s, his arrival coincided with the birth of St Peter's GAA Club, and Father Joe as he is affectionately known, participated as Club President until his departure 13 years later. St Peter's was blessed in every sense of the word to have such an enthusiastic worker. Under his stewardship, he guided and encouraged the Club's drive for financial support at a time when GAA clubs had to make do with the bare minimum. In his period as President, the St Peter's senior team built up a tremendous reputation, climaxing in their Championship victory over Killeavy in 1951.
When Father Joe and those other men of vision met in 1941 to form St Peter's GAA Club, they could never have foreseen that ten years later they would have moulded a team of county champions, such was the meteoric rise of a club whose humble beginnings began in a "hole-in-the-wall" clubrooms in Grattan Street, Lurgan.
The first committee of dedicated Gaels comprising - Bill Barbour, Joe Lavery, John Gaskin, Charlie Walsh, Jack Gallery, Nealie Moore, Bobby Carville, Dominic Toman and Jim Quinn Junior - strove to ensure St Peter's Club would have a solid foundation. After an initial struggle the club, soon found its feet and by 1943 had won the Minor League and their first senior trophy - the Green Cross Cup, defeating Aghagallon Shamrocks in the Final. In 1944, they were Minor League winners again and with a combined Lurgan team defeated Crossmaglen in the Championship Final played in Dundalk.
St Peters Senior 1947. Junior Champions with MacOscar Cup Cafolla Cup Winners.
Back Row - John McGeown, Frank O'Hara, Jack Gallery, Nealie Moore, Jimmy Toman, Billy McAlinden, Davy McGrann, Hugh McStravick, Tommy Dummigan, James Eddie McDowell.
Middle Row - Billy Barbour, Paddy Toman, Jimmy Quinn, Bertie O'Neill, Tommy Leonard, Desy Hogan, Joe Crossey, Gerald McGuinness, Michael Doran, Pat Derby, Tom McDonald.
Front Row - Willie John Magee, Harry Sands, Joey O Neill, Sean McConville, Tommy Doran, Jim McDonald, Father Joe O'Hagan
For the record the combined Lurgan Team comprised - Pat Derby (St Peter's), John Byrne (Sarsfields), Alf Murray (Clann Eireann), Eddie Lappin (Sarsfields), Francie O'Neill (Sarsfields), Henry McPartland (Wolfe Tones), Paddy Toman (St Peter's), Joe O'Neill (Sarsfields), Bill McCorry (Wolfe Tones), Gerry Fegan (Clann Eireann), John Scullion (St Peter's), Charlie Pat Byrne (Sarsfields), Ambrose Lavery (Clann Eireann), Nealie Moore (St Peter's), Sean McConville (St Peter's), Subs - John McCarron, Harry Henderson and Fr Dan McGeown. Final score: St Peter's Select 2-8 Crossmaglen 1-3. In 1945 the Club registered their 3rd year-in-a-row Minor League winners. In 1946 the Club carried off the Cafolla Cup and Junior League. Players showing their worth then were - Billy McAlinden, "Bingo" Doran, Christy Magennis, Tommy Doran, Phelim Corey, Jack Gallery, Jimmy Toman, Charlie McConville, "Shot" McQuillan, Joe Crossey, Paddy "Tubie" Toman, Pat Lyness, Cha Ferris and Jimmy Quinn.
By 1947 St Peter's were proving a match for most teams and in that year they proved victorious in the Junior Championship. A report from the Clar Scor dated Sunday 24 August 1947 reads: Played at Raparee Park on Sunday in sweltering sunshine, this game, whilst lacking in scientific movements, produced some full-blooded football. Christy Magennis got the Whites off to a flying start as he notched a goal and a point. From a 50 taken by Jack Gallery, Joe Crossey gathered and hand-passed over the bar. The Killeavy men coming more into the game found the net through the great Malachy McEvoy. Doran added another Killeavy score, to take them within a point. End to end play was the order until half time and Christy Magennis starring in the Whites forward-line scored 3 more points. McBreen and Cunningham had points each for Killeavy, leaving the half-time score: St Peter's 1-5, Killeavy 1-3. Killeavy forced the pace at the start of the second half and only stout defending by St Peter's and the South Armagh men's inability to take scores kept St Peter's nose in front. The Whites weathered this onslaught and a Tommy Doran free edged them further in front.
Joe Crossey pointed again from a free and Christy Magennis added another point to his tally of 1-4 to leave the Whites winners. Final score: St Peter's 1-8, Killeavy 1-4.
1947 also saw the club win the MacOscar Cup and the Cafolla Cup. In 1948 they made it to the County Final being the first team from Lurgan to reach the Senior Final as one unit. Killeavy being the opponents (their passage into the final had been somewhat easy as their opponents in the semi-final, Clan na Gael, refused to field against them) and amid much controversy St Peter's walked off after a dispute with the referee. However, the 1949 season proved the stepping-stone to bigger things as the Minors won the County Championship final for the first time and from that team came the men that were to form the bulk of the great St Peter's team of the 1950s.
St. Peter's Minor Champions 1949-50
Back Row - Leo McAtamney, Brian Casey, Billy McSherry, Charlie Lavery, Billy McConville, Don McGurran.
Middle Row - Pat McGeown, Jimmy McCorry, Johnny Crossey, Stan Headley, Desy Lavery, Jim Murray, Danny McConville, Brian McGilley, Francie O'Connor, Eddie McQuillan, Charlie McConville.
Front Row - Willie John ONeill, Eddie Smith, Joe McDonald, Joe McGeown, Jim Moore, Donald McCorry and Andy Hogan.