Slaney Rovers A.F.C. was formed in 1979. The founder members were Martin Keogh, Michael Kehoe and Noel Ryan. Slaney Rovers first match was a friendly in Billy Burke`s field which ended in a draw with Billy `Baa` Byrne scoring the first goal. As there was no local soccer league in Carlow, Slaney Rovers affiliated to the Wicklow League in Div. 4 A. Despite it been a different County, the League contained neighbours Hack United (Hacketstown who also formed in 1979) and Parkville (Tullow who formed in 1978), which provided the club with their first `derbies`. Slaney`s first competitive match was one such `derby` against Hack Utd. on the 2nd. September,1979 in P.J. Dunne`s field at Rathmore. Bill `Baa` Byrne is recorded as scoring the first goal, in a 5 - 1 home win. Also on the score sheet was Jim `Baa` Byrne, Martin Coady, Michael Kehoe with Bill `Baa` scoring his second. As the season progressed, under manager Noel Ryan, Slaney were on the tails of Arklow Town for pole position and as both sides ended up with 34 points apiece, - it forced a play off. A toss of a coin, resulted in Arklow, having to travel to Rathvilly for a game that nobody`s remembers much of, except that goalie Alec `Jock` Mc Call saved three penalties in the shoot out, thus securing a League Title in Slaney`s debut season. After the game the team paraded `up the hill` into Rathvilly from the crossroads at Bough, behind the local Rathvilly Pipe Band, surrounded by jubilant supporters.
Slaney Rovers first AGM was held on February 26th, 1980 in Pat Farrells with 28 in attendance with the following officers been elected Chairman Noel, Ryan Ass, Chairman Martin Curran, Snr Secretary Michael, Kehoe Ass, Secretary Mick Connors, Treasurer Michael Byrne, St Patricks Park PRO Martin Curran Snr. This committee was the backbone of the clubs in the early years.
1986 Was a watershed in soccer in the Carlow area. On the local scene, a certain Mr. Kevin Barry, after many meetings with all the established clubs who were playing in different Leagues, finally got his dream off the ground with the formation of the Carlow League with a single division and a Youths League. Slaney Rovers entered the Youths League but the club`s A team spurned a chance to become a founder member of the Carlow League and opted to affiliate to the more established Leinster Junior League as St. Pats. Slaney youth's first fixture was an away game to St. Killians in the youth Centre, Carlow with the home side winning 7 - 3. Goalscorers for Slaney were Paddy Molloy, Peter `Baa` Byrne and Jimmy `Dud` Byrne. Despite that set back, the Youths under Manager Christie Donoghue with selectors Gabriel Deering and Martin `Cash` Keogh, turned the season around, to earn their place in a playoff for the title with Parkville. The Title decider took place on Sept.7`th.1986 in the Youth Centre, Carlow with Slaney winning 2 - 5. Goals scorers were Peter `Baa` Byrne 2, Paddy Molloy 2, and Jimmy `Dud` Byrne 1. The following season - 1986 / 87, Slaney youth`s finished runners up to double winners New Oak Boys, only for the Youths League to fold after two seasons.
For season 1988 / 89, the Carlow League had grown to five Divisions with the A team finally joining the old Div. One as St. Pats. Another milestone- this season was the first time; the club fielded a schoolboy team in the Carlow Under 15 League - under manager Anthony `Figgis` Byrne and selector Gabriel Deering. Their first competitive match was on 11`th. November, losing 1 - 3 to Castle Ville at home in Jimmy Snell`s, Knocklishen. First schoolboys goal scorer was Kieran `Wizard` Byrne who found the top corner with a 25 metre `rasper`.
The following season saw the arrival of St. Pats Boys to the Carlow League and with the permission of league secretary Kevin Barry, the club changed it name back to the original Slaney Rovers, covering all teams under which they played to the present day. (Apart from 94 / 95 when to confound the clubs history a bit more, `wanderlust` retuned the A team when they took a `sabbatical` from the home League and affiliated to the Wicklow League as Slaney Rangers which lasted one season when they returned to the fold of the Carlow League ever since)
The most successful season in the club`s history has to be - 1992 / 93 - when Slaney Rovers three adult teams pulled off the Treble`. Slaney Rovers A under joint managers Lar Smith and Pat Doyle won the club`s only Premier trophy in lifting the Bank Of Ireland Premier Cup, the B Team under Pat Kehoe captured the Division Three League and not to be undone, Slaney Youth`s (Wicklow League) under Ned Byrne, lifted the Wicklow U 18 Cup which was indeed a rare achievement for a Carlow based team.
Over the years interest in soccer was not only confined to the lads, as in season2003 / 04 the club, fielded a women`s team for the first time. With the nearest League been the Wexford Women's League, Slaney affiliated for Season 2003 / 04, under the dedicated team of Manager Seamie Kelly, Martin Curran and Majella O`Brien.
On the clubs anniversary year 2003 / 04 - Slaney Rovers A play in Div. One, the B team in Div. Four of the Carlow & District League, the youth`s in the Carlow Under 18 League, the juveniles are affiliated to the Carlow and District Juvenile League and the Ladies the Wexford Women's League.
Has to blamed on the summer on 1978. Best remembered for the World Cup in Argentina. This was different to previous World Cup`s as it was televised widely across the globe. Thanks to a `magic window ` in the corner of most Irish homes, one was within shouting distance as events unfolded, half way across the world in Argentina. Local school kids were singing the praises of players with names, that just rolled off the tongue with ease, such as Albeto Tarantina, Mario Kempas, Osvaldo Ardiles and Daniel Passarella, and they were just the Argentine`s and many a kid`s dream - of scoring a goal just like `Kempas `. When every neutral`s favourite team - Brazil - bowed out in the second round, one`s loyalty turned to support Holland who had lost the previous final to West Germany.
The final itself was between Holland who played `total football` against the tournament hosts who`s game plan was just to outscore any opposition as the fielded four forwards. On the day itself, Mario Kempas was outstanding, putting the host`s in front but only in the second half, did the Dutch came to life when Dick Nanninga equalised with a header. And when Rob Rensenbrink hit the post in the dying moments – one English commentator asserted that if that shot had found the net and Holland had won, there would have been a revolution in Argentina. In extra time Mario Kempas and Daniel Bertoni netted to secure a home win in a fascinating final. Anyway Argentina won, so `no revolution` but some 11,000 kilometres away, there was a uprising of sorts in our own neck of the woods as within one year of the finals, three soccer clubs formed, all within a seven km. radius of Rathvilly. Parkville United formed in Tullow straight away in 1978 and Hack United (Hacketstown) along with Slaney Rovers in 1979.
On the Rathvilly home front, the only outlet for the kids to copy their heroes was a kick about on the local village green behind the pump, with the usual rolled up jumpers as goals. On seeing the interest in this new `religion` a certain Martin `Cash` Keogh was the first to ask that question - why not start a soccer team in Rathvilly. On pondering this notion, and knowing that nobody had a clue where to start - as soccer was a new concept to the area, with any previous team sport, been the `handling code ` Christie Donoghue knew of a new arrival in Rathvilly who was rumoured to have played soccer in the Wicklow League. After a few yards of a walk and a tap on a door, a biggish man with a reddish beard listened to their problem. They hit the jackpot as Noel `Big Al` Ryan had played soccer with his home town Arklow Town and even played Premier Division in his younger days. `Big Al`s suggested that – the only way to gauge what interest they was for soccer in Rathvilly, was to collect names of whoever was interested and collect so much a week to buy a set of jerseys.
The final piece of the jigsaw fell into place when Michael Kehoe came on board and he opened up the first of his famous black recording books, signed up a bunch of players, collected 50 pence per player per week. This was pre Celtic Tiger days, even pre - decimalisation days when 50 pence was 50 pence). Within eight weeks Michael had collected a panel of interested players, the price of a set of jerseys and a football. Only two problems remained - a home pitch - which was solved when Maire and PJ. Dunne offered a field in Rathmore, which was the clubs home for the early years, and - transport was provided by Noel Curry, which would transport the Slaney Rovers, the length and breath of Wicklow for many years – the rest as they say is history!