Athenry County Junior Hurling Champions 1993
Front Row: (left to right) Terence Gannon, Peter Kelly, Michael Crimmins, Colin Byrne, Mattie Gannon, Michael Higgins, Paddy Kelly. Back Row: (left to right) Michael Waldron, Billy Caulfield, Michael Cahill, Patrick Hession, Sean Keane, Brian Hanley, Declan Higgins and Gerry Treacy.
After five years of setbacks at senior level, the Annual General Meeting of the Club decided for the first time ever to appoint an outsider as senior team manager. Former Galway All-Star, Meelick-Eyrecourt`s Brendan Lynskey was appointed to look after the affairs of the team. A winner of two All-Ireland medals, it was generally felt that he would instill badly needed steel into the side and he picked Noel Kelly and Jackie O`Shea as his selectors. Having gone down showing a distinct lack of heart for battle against Turloughmore in the previous year's quarter-final, questions were being asked if they had the necessary resolve to match their oceans of talent. In his preview John McIntyre wrote “They seem to lose their nerve in tight situations and have problems up-front.”
After a whirlwind start which saw them score four points in the opening five minutes, Athenry were still somewhat fortunate to emerge victors against Ardrahan in their opening championship game. Playing with a strong wind in the first half they led by eight points 0-9 to 0-1 at the break but within eleven minutes Ardrahan were back on level terms. It was left to their ageless captain P.J. Molloy to notch the match-winning scores when he sent over three points from play in the closing quarter. The Athenry defence held tight in the closing stages and Ardrahan could only manage one point in the final nineteen minutes, which left the final score 0-15 to 2-5 in Athenry`s favour.
Hurling fans that feel the league format deprives the early rounds of passion and fervour had their fears allayed in a pulsating Athenry v Killimordaly clash at Clarinbridge. Athenry went home with the two points, after coming back from being nine points in arrears, that only their most optimistic of fans could have envisaged.
This was championship hurling at its best from two fierce rivals who served up a thrilling encounter. Killimordaly seemed poised for a runaway win in the opening half when they clocked up 1-10 to Athenry`s 1-1 in the first twenty minutes. Points by Pascal Healy and P.J. Molloy and a goal by Brendan Keogh kept Athenry in touch and at the break they trailed 1-11 to 2-3.
Within two minutes of the re-start Pat Higgins narrowed the gap further with a goal and Athenry had gone ahead after eight minutes. Killimordaly were now finding their first half exploits counted for nothing but were far from finished. They stormed back with a Noel Cooney goal to lead again 2-12 to 3-6. Points from Brendan Keogh, Brendan Morrissey and John Hardiman leveled the score, and two great points from sixty-fives by Brendan Keogh pushed Athenry ahead before he landed the insurance point from play. Athenry were deserving winners by 3-12 to 2-12 of a game that kept the crowd on their feet throughout.
Team: Gerry Rabbitte, Eamonn Keogh, Tommy Morrissey, Gerry Dempsey, Paul Hardiman, Brian Feeney, Gerry Keane, Pascal Healy, John Hardiman, Brendan Keogh, Brendan Morrissey, John Conway, Pat Higgins Joe Rabbitte, P.J. Molloy. Sub: Cathal Moran.
High flying newcomers to the senior championship Portumna were brought back to earth by Athenry in their next game at Duggan Park, Ballinasloe. There were many times during the game when Athenry looked like pulling away, but they still left the door open for the east Galway side despite playing stunning hurling at times. Portumna trailed 1-9 to 1-6 at the interval and were back within a point of Athenry with points by Ollie Canning and Vincent Treacy early in the second half. But with Joe Rabbitte and Brian Feeney in fine form for Athenry, particularly in the second half, they held on for a 1-14 to 1-11 win.
The quarter-final against Sarsfields went down to the wire as most people expected the game would. Sarsfields displayed nerves of steel to survive the fiercest challenge to their supremacy in Galway club hurling by Athenry. Played before a huge attendance at Duggan Park, at the end it took two superb points by Michael McGrath and Peter Kelly to edge Sarsfields through after Pascal Healy had scored an inspirational equalizer from out the field four minutes from full time.
In the opening half a Joe Rabbitte goal kept Athenry in touch and at the break Sarsfields led by the narrowest of margins 0-9 to 1-5. The tit-for-tat scoring pattern continued in the second half. Athenry had the chances to carry the day but their poor start did them no favours. The winners were lucky when Brendan Keogh hit the upright in the 26th minute but they held on to win by 0-17 to 1-12.
Tommy Morrissey could not be faulted at full-back nor could goalkeeper Gerry Rabbitte. Gerry Dempsey was solid at corner back while Brendan Keogh was involved in most of Athenry`s best moves and had a most industrious hour. Joe Rabbitte, Cathal Moran and John Conway also had productive outings on a day that Athenry were again left to ponder on what might have been.
Before a ball was even struck in the junior hurling championship, Athenry, with a blend of youth and experience, were installed as favourites. They deservedly booked their place in the county final when possessing too much class for Cappatagle in the county semi-final. With a fair sprinkling of one time senior hurlers on board including Declan Higgins on the comeback after an injury, Athenry looked the better side even though it wasn't an easy passage.
Goalkeeper Michael Crimmins handled confidently throughout while Billy Caulfield, Paddy Kelly and Colin Byrne all improved as the match wore on. Up front Terence Gannon, Patrick Hession, Sean Keane, Declan Higgins and Michael Waldron were also to the fore in a 3-13 to 2-10 victory.
They lived up to their billing as favourites at Duggan Park in the final to fight off the challenge of a dogged Fohenagh side that refused to surrender easily their chance to win the title. But they were beaten by a better side and the containment by Michael Higgins of county under 21 player, Tony Kirwan proved to be decisive. In an open game that provided plenty of entertainment there was never more than a goal between the sides.
Athenry got off to a great start when Peter Kelly collected a long ball from Brian Hanley and crashed home a goal after six minutes. Inspired by a solid defence that included Billy Caulfield, team manager Mattie Gannon and Michael Cahill, Athenry were well in control and when Michael Crimmins deflected Fohenagh`s best goal chance over the bar before halftime, the writing was on the wall for the East Galway side.
Deadlocked at the halftime break at 1-2 to 0-5, Declan Higgins edged Athenry ahead with two great points before Gerry Madden for Fohenagh got one back for his side. Sean Keane wrapped up the issue for Athenry when he shot two fine points in the closing stages.
A gap of thirty-six years was bridged - Athenry`s last junior title was won in 1957 - when team captain Michael Higgins stepped up to receive the cup presented for one of the oldest competitions in the GAA. On the day they had many stars and the victory ended a great year for Mattie Gannon`s charges.
Team: Michael Crimmins, Paddy Kelly, Billy Caulfield, Mattie Gannon, Colin Byrne, Michael Cahill, Michael Higgins, Declan Higgins, Gerry Treacy, Patrick Hession, Sean Keane, Brian Hanley, Peter Kelly, Michael Waldron, Terence Gannon. Subs: Sean Kindregan, Donal Moran.
The minor team could afford the luxury of shooting sixteen wides and still run out winners by five points in the county semi-final at Carnmore. Trained by P.J. Molloy, the Athenry side had too many big guns for Castlegar to handle. Donal Moran, Brian Higgins and Dara Burke caused their defence all sorts of trouble and Athenry went on to record a 2-8 1-6 victory.
Group form was thrown out the window when pre-match favourites Kiltormer were held to a draw at Ballymacward after a full blooded contest. Routed by them earlier in the year, Athenry were within a whisker of achieving an unexpected victory only for Derek Cormican point to force a replay in the dying seconds.
It was an absorbing and fluctuating encounter fought out between two of the keenest rivals in Galway club hurling. A strong cross-field wind had a major bearing on proceedings, but the players ignored the hostile weather conditions in a game that was confidently refereed by Jimmy Cooney. Kiltormer led at halftime by 1-3 to 0-4 and increased that lead with two more points early in the second half. Athenry fought their way into contention with a string of unanswered points from sub. Michael Loughnane, Gerry Feeney, Donal Moran and Brian Higgins to draw level with eight minutes remaining. Dara Burke put Athenry ahead before Cormican`s late point from a free forced a replay.
Played at Ballindereen, the replay was probably the best championship hurling game played in Galway throughout the year. With great scores and non stop excitement, it was played at breath-taking speed throughout and despite all the passion and fire, it remained clean and sporting from start to finish. Athenry again started less than impressively but inspired by their manager P. J. Molloy, settled down to the task and were ahead by two points at the break 1-4 to 1-2.
As they did in the opening half, Kiltormer started well with a point by Gordon Glynn but their joy was short-lived. Brian Higgins deflected a cross from Gerry Feeney to the Kiltormer net and the later added another point followed by similar scores from Brian Higgins and Eddie Brady to leave Athenry well placed with a 2-7 to 1-3 advantage at the three quarter stage. However, it wasn't over yet and when Hugh Bleahan hit the net for Kiltormer the margin was down to four points with twelve minutes remaining and a stern test of Athenry`s character loomed up. Within two minutes they responded in spectacular fashion when Donal Moran burst through the middle and shook the net with a crashing drive. Kiltormer could only manage one point in the remaining nine minutes to leave the final score at 3-7 to 2-4 in favour of Athenry.
There was understandable jubilation at yet another minor championship victory for the Club. They had great performances from Michael Loughnane, Barry Keogh, Liam Hoyne, Donal Moran, Eddie Brady, Aidan Poniard and in particular ace forwards Gerry Feeney and Brian Higgins. The victory was deeply satisfying for all concerned as was the motivating power of P.J. Molloy which was evident throughout the year. He transformed the team that looked ordinary in the early rounds, into a class side. Both the draw and replay will be remembered as classics of their kind and a fitting example of the brand of hurling nurtured by the Club.
Team: Cathal Daly, Michael Treacy, David Howley, John Feeney, Oliver Caulfield, Richard Brady, Barry Keogh, Donal Moran, Liam Hoyne, Eddie Brady, Dara Burke, Brian Higgins, Aidan Poniard, Emmet Caulfield, Gerry Feeney. Sub: Michael Loughnane.
Written off by many, Galway senior hurlers gave the ultimate brush off to the hurling traditionalists that were craving for a Tipperary v Kilkenny All-Ireland final. Tipperary were virtually undisputed favourites to walk all over Galway in their semi-final clash at Croke Park. But Galway, managed by Jarlath Cloonan, without exception hurled with power and determination to send the Munster champions crashing out of the championship on a scoreline 1-16 to 1-14. Brendan Keogh scored a great point in the opening half while the towering Joe Rabbitte made life desperately uncomfortable for the Tipp backs scoring two great points. A late goal by Kilkenny`s P.J. Delaney ended Galway`s challenge in the Final. Joe Rabbitte played a fine game for Galway and was rewarded with his first GAA All-Star Award later in the year. He scored four great points and an incident late in the game when a free was awarded against him incorrectly by referee Terence Murray proved costly and resulted in a score at the other end for Kilkenny who were winners by 2-17 to 1-15.
Athenry County Minor Hurling Champions 1993
Galway Oireachtais Hurling Champions 1993
Front Row: (left to right) Brendan Dervan, Justin Campbell, Michael McGrath, Richard Burke, Joe Cooney, Brendan Keogh, Tom Monaghan. Back Row: (left to right) Michael Coleman, Gerry Keane, Dermot Fahy, Brian Feeney, Joe Rabbitte, Jimmy Burke, Eamonn Burke and Ray Duane.
Galway All-Ireland Senior Hurling Finalists 1993
Front Row: (left to right) Brendan Keogh, Gerry McInerney, Michael McGrath, Padraic Kelly, Joe Cooney, Murty Killilea. Back Row: (left to right) Michael McGrath, Tom Helebert, Paul Cooney, Richard Burke, Liam Burke, Michael Coleman, Joe Rabbitte, Sean Treacy and Pat Malone.
Joe Rabbitte, Galway is tackled by Pat Dwyer, Kilkenny in All-Ireland Hurling Final