The Gaelic Athletic Association in Desertmartin stretched back to June 1885 at which time participation in games took place in the townland of Tirgan.
Several years later, a teacher from Derry City by the name of Master McLaughlin introduced the Gaelic games, as we know it, into the parish in 1933. It was decided at this time that the club should be called “St. Martins”, and that yellow jerseys with green shamrocks on the breast, with white shorts would be worn as the clubs colours.
Home matches were now played in Bradley’s field, and later in Gribben’s filed in the townland of Annagh. Some of the first men to represent Derry from Desertmartin were John Higgins and Mickey McGurk, the later once scoring a point from a kick-out against Ballinderry while representing his club.
It was in 1938 that camogie began in Desertmartin, with the formation of three teams – St. Bridget’s, Brackagh and Tirgan. Later, in 1959 these three teams formed into one team named St.Mary’s, which went on to win the South Derry League in 1961. However camogie went out of existence in the late 1960’s before re-forming in 1977, and again going out of existence in the early 1980’s.
One of the first honours won by St. Martin’s was the county minor league in 1945, after a deciding game against Bellaghy.
The most successful decade for the club was from 1950 to 1960. In 1950 the team won the County Derry Junior Championship, beating Kilrea in the South Derry final and Coleraine in the County Derry Final. This team also went on to win the Ulster title that year.
The senior team achieved it’s greatest success in 1953, winning the Derry Senior Championship for the first and only time, beating Ballerin 4-9 to 0-2 in the final.
St Martin’s also reached the final in 1959, however on this occasion they were beaten by Bellaghy. In 1960 the club purchased a new playing field in the townland of Longfield and it is here where the club has been located ever since.
It was not until 1968 that the club tasted success again, winning the County Junior Championship, beating Aghadowey.
In 1971, St. Martin’s entered Scor for the first time, with success in 1975 coming for the Instrumental Music, Ballad Group and Question Time teams, followed by the Novelty Act in 1977. In 1979, both the junior quiz and senior set dancing teams reached the All Ireland stage, however neither were successful on this occasion.
In 1974 the Irish Dancing class gained a new teacher, Miss Patricia Devlin. Patricia, now know as Patricia McSwiggan, she continued to teach Irish Dancing until recently.
The G.A.A. centenary year, 1984, saw the opening of the clubs new Gaelic Centre, on the 26th August by the then G.A.A. President Mr. Paddy Buggy.
The 1990’s saw more development around the new Gaelic Centre in Longfield with the opening of then newly re-furbished playing field, followed by the opening of the John O’Hagan memorial stand.
In 1990 the ceili dancing team reached the All Ireland Junior Scor, however they were unsuccessful at this time.
On the field, the senior team had an up and down spell, during which time them won the Division 2 league on 3 occasions, and adding 4 Intermediate Reserve Championships during this time.
1993 also seen the minor team lift the South Derry Minor Championship, beating Newbridge in the final.
Success at minor level continued into the new millennium with the team of 2002 lifting both the South Derry and All County B Minor Championships.
In 1998 our ladies matched the success of the mens team of 1953 and lifted the clubs one and to date only Derry Senior Ladies title
The clubs most recent success has saw the club add to their mens county titles by winning the junior championship back to back in 2020 and 2021.