Not since 1977 had any Galway county champions successfully defended their title, but Sarsfields were again installed as firm favourites. With Athenry, according to John McIntyre, their single biggest threat. In the open-draw final Athenry powered their way to a comphrensive 2-15 to 1-7 victory over Meelick/Eyrecourt at Killimor. But, in their opening game in the county championship they did nothing to enchance their reputation depite a 1-10 to 1-3 victory over St. Thomas'. Although in front from the start they struggled to breach a well organised Thomas' defence that dominated throughout. It was only in the final quarter that they managed to stetch their lead to comfortable proportations. Having led by 1-2 to 0-2 at the interval and satisfied to make a winning start a major improvement was needed if they were to reach the quarter-finals. Only the full back line of Michael Cahill, Billy Caulfield and the emerging Brian Feeney, man-of-the-match Gerry Keane, Pascal Healy, Cathal Moran and Declan Higgins measured up on this occasion.
Against Tynagh, in their next game, it was a useless exercise to try to acccess Athenry who ran riot over a poor side winning by 5-18 to 2-5 at Ballindereen. Victory over Gort by 3-16 to 2-5 in their next game was not as impressive as the score seems to imply. Given the eventtual winning margin it was incredible that they trailed for most of the first half. Two goals by Dermot Monaghan and Joe Rabbitte just before the break settled their side who were rarely troubled in the second period.
Athenry's widely predicted advance to the quarter-finals stayed on course against Abbeyknockmoy in a torrid game at Ballindereen. "The scene was set for an absorbing battle in the first ten minutes of action which failed to produce a score, but exploded into a tumult of action with bodies flying from bone shaking tackles and at least five hurleys disinergrating in mid-air ash battles" wrote Francis Farragher in the Connacht Tribune. Abbeyknockmoy's early season mediocrity and Athenry's sprint start of their campaign left the '88 winners with nothing to loose. They hit Athenry hard from the start but to their credit it was an onslaught that a new look young Athenry side withstood. An unfortunate end to the match that involved a free-for-all involving a dozen players was regretable. With time up and Athenry 1-11 to 1-8 ahead a row , that could have resulted in a serious injury to a young Athenry player, where hurleys were used indiscrimnately brought little credit to those who provoked the incident. Referee Morgan Darcy restored order in a game where Cathal Moran and Pat Higgins were the Athenry heroes in another solid team performence.
Two early goals by Gay Lyons for Meelick/Eyrecourt in the county quarter-final proved invaluable as the east Galway side recorded a surprise 2-9 to 0-13 victory over Athenry. In one of the biggest upsets of the year Athenry had no answer to a Brendan Lynskey inspired side with the county player lining out in the unusual right half back position causing a sorts of problems. Their lightning start shocked Athenry who found themselves 2-3 to 0-1 in arrears after only ten minutes. Though they were hanging on grimly at the end of the game there was no doubting the merit of Meelick/Eyrecourt's win.
For Athenry it was a day of sheer frustration. Often shut out of affairs at midfield they were not on their game early on but improved as the game progressed. Even the introduction of P.J. Molloy could not rescue Athenry and though the winners scoring rate dropped alarmingly they held out for a place in the last four.
Team: Mattie Gannon, Eddie Fox, Billy Caulfield, Brian Feeney, Pascal Healy, Paul Hardiman, Tommy Morrissey, Gerry Keane, John Hardiman, Cathal Moran, Pat Higgins, Declan Higgins, Dermot Monaghan, Joe Rabbitte, Brendan Morrissey.
A goal in the final minute put Killimordaly ahead in the county under 14 final at Loughrea and they held on to win their nineth title. A young Athenry side were unable to convert their scoring chances and lost by 1-3 to 2-1.
Team: E Morrissey, Michael Treacy, M Brady, Richard Brady, Brian Higgins, David Howley, John Feeney, Darragh Burke, Emmet Caulfield, Eddie Brady, Kevin Quirke, Liam Hoyne, Michael Loughnane, Hugh Nolan and Eugene Cloonan.
A draw in the county junior (B) final against Moycullen was a fair result and in the replay Athenry captured the title with a deserved 1-5 to 0-3 victory. Played at Turloughmore and even though wind assisted, on a cold December day, it was Moycullen that made the most promising start. Athnery's tally of nine wides didn't help but points by John Hardiman, Tommy Morrissey and two from P. J. Molloy coupled with a well taken goal by Michael Higgins in the 13th minute established a lead of 1-4 to 0-1 at the interval.
This proved more than enough and they held on the lift the cup though they too only managed to score one point by P. J Molloy against the elements. Mattie Gannon at full back in the first half and between the posts in the second had a fine outing with excellant support from team captain Pearse Coffey, Brendan Burke, Brian Feeney, John Hardiman, Pascal Healy, Luke Glynn and P. J. Molloy.
Team: Willie Killeen, Peter Kelly, Mattie Gannon, Pearse Coffey, Brendan Burke, Brian Feeney, Eddie Fox, Tommy Morrissey, John Hardiman, Dermot Monaghan, Pat Higgins, Pascal Healy, Luke Glynn, P. J. Molloy, Michael Higgins. Sub: Keith Nevin.
In the Oireachtais Hurling Final before an attendence of 5,000 a Galway side, that included Pat Higgins, defeated their arch rivals and All-Ireland Champions Tipperary by 1-19 to 0-8 at Ennis. Tommy Morrissey played against Derry in the National Hurling League and alongside Tony Keady on the Galway junior side that lost the All-Ireland semi-final to Tipperary by 2-10 to 3-5 at Limerick. In a cracking minor semi-final Galway, trained by P.J. Molloy lost narrowly to Kilkenny by 2-10 to 1-12 at Tullamore.
Galway seniors were convincing winners over Offaly by 1-16 to 2-7 in their semi-final. But defeat in an epic final to Cork by 5-15 to 2-21 marked the return to the bad old days for Galway hurling. It was as if the 1987-88 victories never happened and the defeat was as sickening as the '81 disaster against Offaly.
The county under 21 side also made a tame exit losing to Kilkenny by 2-16 1-13 at Limerick Gaelic Grounds. In fairness the Galway defence, which included Brian Feeney and Brendan Keogh, were under constant pressure and performed well. Gerry Keane hit two points from midfield while Joe Rabbitte scored three and was by far Galway's best forward.
|County Junior B Football Champions 1990
Front Row: (left to right) Brendan Burke, Peter Kelly, Keith Nevin, P J Molloy, Luke Glynn, John Hardiman, Martin Hansberry, Mattie Gannon, John Comiskey. Back Row: (left to right) Paddy Forde, Stephen Canavan, Pat Hoyne, Tommy Morrissey, Pat Hansberry, Willie Killeen, Brian Feeney, Tommy Fahy, Eddie Fox, Jack Mahon, Dermot Monaghan, Pascal Healy, Pearse Coffey, Pat Higgins, Bobby Gardner, Michael Higgins, Michael Hansberry and Michael Quinn.