The Beara Divisional Board was first affiliated with the Cork County Board in 1927 but football on the peninsula was played long before this. The first recorded game of football in Beara, under the new GAA rules took place in Power’s field in Milcove, Castletownbere on 18th August 1900.
At the Cork County Convention in 1924, the decision was made to organise the different parts of the county under local area boards or Divisional Boards. West Cork had been operating semi-independently on and off for the previous twenty years, and was now to be joined by regional boards in the North, East and South-East Cork. MH Murphy, County Vice-Chairman, was the driving force behind this movement.
A meeting of the representatives of the affiliated teams in Beara took place in the Berehaven Hotel (now named the Beara Bay Hotel) on Thursday April 7th 1927. The purpose of this meeting, which was attended by Padraig O’Keefe, secretary of Cork County Board, was to establish a divisional board to run official GAA competitions on the Beara Peninsula. The following committee was elected Chairman Mort O’Shea (Adrigole), Vice Chairman Pat O’Neill (Castletownbere), Secretary Mikie Crowley (Castletownbere) and Treasurer Richard O’Sullivan (Castletownbere).
Just five years after being affiliated, Beara were crowned county senior football champions in 1932. They defeated Clonakilty on a score line of 2-2 to 0-1 thus becoming the first Division to win the county senior football championship. Beara were to complete a famous 3-in-a-row defeating Clonakilty on all three occasions winning on a score line of Beara 2-5 Clonakilty 0-4 (1933), Beara 2-6 Clonakilty 0-3 (1934). Beara again reached the county senior football final in 1939 only for Clonakilty to this time emerge victorious on a score line of 0-7 to 0-5. In 1940 Beara again emerged as county champions defeating Millstreet on a score line of 2-8 to 1-7. Donal O’Sullivan (Bere Island) had the distinction of being captain of the 4 winning teams.
It would be 1960, before Beara were to claim silverware again when they won the Kelleher Shield for the first, and only time when they defeated St Vincent’s on a score line of 1-12 to 1-4.
In 1967 Beara won their 5th county senior football title after defeating UCC in a replay with the first game finishing 3-9 to 3-9. In the replay Beara ended a 27 year wait when they defeated UCC on a score line of 2-5 to 0-7. The captain of the team was Sean Power (Adrigole). At the time divisional sides were allowed to compete in the Munster club championship. Beara went on to capture the Munster title defeating Mid Kerry 1-11 to 2-7 in the final. The captain of the team was Bernie O’Neill (Adrigole). Unfortunately there was no All Ireland club championship played at the time. Beara did however play a challenge game against the Leinster champions, Kilbride (Meath) defeating them 1-13 to 2-9. Including 2 guest players Kilbride fielded 9 of the Meath senior football.
It would be a further 30 years before Beara claimed another county senior title when they defeated Castlehaven, again after a replay, in 1997. The teams finished on 0-10 apiece with the final drawing an attendance of over 16,000 people. A month later the teams returned to Pairc Ui Chaoimh where over 12,000 people saw the division capture their 6th county senior football title winning on a score line of 1-10 to 1-7. Ollie Rue O’Sullivan (Garnish) captained the side.
The county U21 competition was first played for in 1973. After many final defeats Beara captured their first county title in 1996, defeating Ballincollig in the final after a replay. Beara retained their title in 1997 this time defeating Bishopstown in the final. Beara’s good run in the competition continued when they won the competition again in 1999. Beara captured their 4th county U21 title when they defeated Macroom in 2006.
Beara have provided many players to Cork teams at all levels with a number of them winning All Ireland medals. 3 Beara men have won All Ireland Senior football medals with Cork. Murt O’Shea (1911 - Adrigole & Lees), Patrick .A “Weeshie” Murphy (1945 - Bere Island) and Kevin Jer O’Sullivan (1973 - Adrigole).
Many Beara players have played with Munster in the Railway cup with a number of them winning medals. Patrick .A “Weeshie“ Murphy (Bere Island) won medals in 1946, 1948 and 1949. Nealie Duggan (Urhan) won medals in 1948 and 1949. Kevin Jer O’Sullivan (Adrigole) won medals in 1972 and 1975. Sean O’Shea (Adrigole) won a medal in 1977 while Ciaran O Sullivan (Urhan) won a medal in 1999.
Since the 1960s there had been a tradition of annually selecting the best player in each position, in football and hurling, to create a special team of the year. Between 1963 and 1967 these players received what was known as the Cú Chulainn award. In 1971 these awards were formalised into the annual GAA All Star Awards. Con “Paddy” O’Sullivan (Urhan) received a Cú Chulainn award in 1966 and in 1967.
Two Beara players have been selected on All Star teams. Kevin Jer O’Sullivan (Adrigole) in 1972 and 1973 and Ciaran O’Sullivan (Urhan) in 1999.
Both Ciaran O’Sullivan (Urhan) and Brendan Jer O’Sullivan (Adrigole) have played compromise rules for Ireland.