Club have Centenary Year success in Hurling & Football
A record sixteen teams between hurling and football were affiliated by the Club in various grades to contest Centenary Year County Championships and Competitions. With all Clubs in the County striving for centenary year honours every game in almost every grade was eagerly contested. Club teams recorded some memorable victories, reached the final stages of several championships and won County titles in hurling and football.
The Club was justifiably proud of the achievements of its players during 'Centenary Year' but even more so of the reputation which its players have earned for the Club by their high level of sportsmanship and sense of fair play. While at all times playing to win they displayed remarkable discipline in victory or defeat and were a credit to the Club.
It was stalemate at the end of the Athenry and Sarsfields first round championship game at Ballindereen with the final score 0-1 1 each. In the final analysis Athenry's fate rested with themselves as they had a golden opportunity on full time to snatch victory.
Against the wind in the opening half the A thenry defence, inspired by Gerry Dempsey, who judged the game to perfection and Pascal Healy, who had a great duel with Michael McGrath, were outstanding. At midfield Dermot Monaghan was the best player in that area winning valuable possession and linking up well with Gerry Holian. The return from the attack, however was poor in relation to the amount of possession Athenry enjoyed during the first half and at the interval they led by 0-7 to 0-5.
It looked as if Athenry would win at the start of the second half but Sarsfields raised their game considerably while Athenry forwards made little headway against a solid defence. A brilliant save by Mattie Gannon from a McGrath shot kept Athenry in the game and at the end they were very unlucky not to get the winning point having two excellent chances to score.
Team: Mattie Gannon, Luke Glynn, Billy Caulfield, Hugh Higgins, Gerry Waldron, Gerry Dempsey, Pascal Healy, Dermot Monaghan, Michael Waldron, Gerry Holian, Seamus Kearns P. J. Molloy. Sean Keane, Sean Kindregan, Pat Higgins Subs.: Mixie Donoghue and Joe Morrissey.
It took a last gasp point by Gort's Michael Cahill to save the County champions and All-Ireland Club Finalists from defeat against Athenry in their championship game at Loughrea. "They came in for a really testing hour from an underrated Athenry side, which showed true grit to come from behind no fewer than seven times and then short head their more fancied rivals as the game entered the closing stages' wrote J. B. Donoghue in the Connacht Tribune.
In the opening half Gort made all the early running but still could not establish a lead as each time they appeared to be getting control, back came Athenry to narrow or close the gap. A goal by P. J. Molloy from a penalty gave Athenry a 1-6 to 0-6 lead at halftime.
With Gort, pulling out all the stops and going three points up entering the final ten minutes Molloy again tried for a goal from a penalty. His shot was saved but Sean Keane was there to send the rebound to the net for his second goal. Keane's first, pulled Athenry back from a similar position and was one of the best scores of the game.
In a do-or-die finishing drive Athenry forced a free which Molloy pointed for the lead but Michael Cahill's point from long range saved Gort's blushes, and they were lucky to hold battling Athenry to a draw 1-1 5 to 3-9.
It was a thrilling hours hurling with plenty of fine and skill by both sides who were very determined to win. Several Athenry players were impressive at various stages in the game but Mattie Gannon, Billy Caulfield, Pat Higgins and Sean Keane excelled throughout. Gannon made a few top class saves and his fearlessness under pressure was a feature of his game. Billy Caulfield mastered two County men who kept changing in and out of the full forward position. Pat Higgins ran his opponent into the ground at midfield while an alert Sean Keane was the most dangerous of the forwards.
Team: Mattie Gannon, Luke Glynn, Billy Caulfield, Hugh Higgins, Michael Cahill, Gerry Dempsey, Pascal Healy, Dermot Monaghan, Pat Higgins, Gerry Holian, Joe Morrissey, P. J. Molloy.Subs: Sean Keane, Mixie Donoghue, Sean Kindregan.
Having secured commendable draws with Sarsfields and County champions Gort, Athenry faced Tommy Larkins in their next game at Castledaly. The side never produced the same enthusiasm or speed displayed in the Gort game, and were disappointingly defeated 2-9 to 1-10. Several reasons were given for the team's poor performance, the pending departure the next day of players for the U.S.A. did not help nor did an overconfident attitude following the performance against Gort.
A late rally, which yielded three goals and a point in the last three minutes, was not enough to overtake Kinvara's lead in the remaining game of the championship. Apart from the closing stages it was another poor display by Athenry with the defence being particularly at fault on several occasions. The final score was 1-1 8 to 4-6.
Club among eight oldest Clubs in Centenary Tournament
The Club accepted an invitation to participate in a special All-Ireland. Centenary Hurling Tournament organised by Dublin's Round Tower G.A.A. Club, involving eight of the oldest clubs in the Country. Played at Clondalkin the tournament turned out to be a very 'successful' event for Athenry.
An understrength team were convincing winners over St. Patrick's (Limerick) in the first game and had three points to spare at the end of a thrilling game against Kilkenny's Ttillaroan in the semi-final. Athenry looked like winning with a comfortable margin as the game entered the closing stages but referee Noel O'Donoghue awarded a penalty for a third man tackle which was sent to the Athenry net by Tullaron. In a hectic finish Athenry held on to win with Mattie Gannon outstanding in the goal. Gerry Rabbitte played very well when brought on with Pat Higgins, Joe Morrissey and P. J. Molloy also impressive.
Athenry surprised most of observers by qualifying for the final against 1983 Munster Club champions Moycarkey-Borris. In an exciting first half Athenry, with Pascal Healy at his best, held their own against a very strong Tipperary side. In the second half the woodwork saved the Tipp. side on two occasions in a repeat of what happened in the opening half when a rasping shot from P. J. Molloy hit the crossbar. At the end Athenry did riot have the physical strength to match their opponents but displayed an abundance of skill and speed. 'Moycarkey' were deserving winners of a most successful tournament. Well-known inter-county referee Athenryman Tony Jordan was one of the organisers of the tournament.
Team: Mattie Gannon, Gerry Waldron, Billy Caulfield, Hugh Higgins, Michael Higgins, Gerry Dempsey, Pascal Healy, Pat Higgins, Adrian Ruane, Mixie Donoghue, Joe Morrissey, P J Molloy, Sean Keane, Sean Kindregan, Michael Maloney. Subs: Peter Kelly, Gerry Rabbitte, Tom Page, Michael Burke.
The Club also took part in the Kilmacud Crokes All-Ireland Sevens for the first time. With very little experience at 7-a-side hurling the eventual finalists Buffers Alley- defeated them.
Minor Hurling Team very unlucky in County Final
Two goals by Sean McGovern against Abbey/Duniry in the first round of the minor hurling championship at Craughwell put Athenry on the road to a well earned win. The East Galway team were more than a match for Athenry in the opening half but with Gerry Rabbit at full back and Joe Morrissey at midfield dominating the exchanges Athenry gradually took control and won by 2-7 to 1-5.
Against Mullagh in the next round Athenry had an easier than expected victory. A brilliant goal by Niall Cullinane gave them a good lead and at the end they had five points to spare, the score 112 to 1-7. A powerful Castlegar side gave an understrength Athenry team a hammering in the next game at Carnmore, But Athenry were safely into the quarterfinals.
There was no doubt about the result of the quarterfinal against Portumna at Tynagh as Athenry gave a fine performance winning by 2-12 to 2-2. Noel Lally in the defence was unbeatable and Niall Cullinane scored 2-8 of his sides total.
In the County semi-final against Tynagh at Loughrea it was a different story. In a poor first half both teams were guilty of errors and missed good scoring chances. Aided by the breeze Athenry's hopes of reaching the County Final did not look good as they trailed by two points at the interval.
It looked even worse when Tynagh increased their lead to six points with just over ten minutes remaining. However, Athenry inspired by their great hearted captain Joe Morrissey battled on against the odds. A goal by young John Rynne shook Tynagh and points by Morrissey and Michael Maloney reduced the lead to a minimum. Realising their difficulties Tynagh rallied and increased their lead again to two points. In a tremendously exciting finish Declan Higgins connected on a cross from Kevin Coyne and sent the ball to the back of the net to give Athenry a one point lead. Joe Morrissey made it two points but Tynagh from the puck out launched an all out attack. Eddie Fox denied them what looked a certain goal by a great save. With time almost up Tynagh sent the resulting '65'over the bar and Athenry held on for a well deserved victory.
Several Athenry players played well particularly in the final quarter. Eddie Fox's save near the end, Joe Morrissey's first time hurling and the determination of centre back Anthony Jennings were the highlights of the game.
Team: Eddie Fox, Noel Lally, Gerry Rabbitte, Barry Kearns, John Hardiman, Anthony Jennings, Tommy Lane, Joe Morrissey (Capt.), Kevin Coyne, Niall Cullinane, Tony Ruane, Francis Flaherty, Pau1 Coffey. Sub: John Rynne.
Through to the final Athenry, for the first time ever, faced neighbours Turloughmore in a County Final. With impressive wins over Loughrea and Castlegar the 'Turlough' side were made red hot favourites while Athenry were given the no-hopers tag. Played before the County Senior and Intermediate Finals at Pearse Stadium the game that 'everyone' expected to be a one sided affair turned out to be the match-of-the-day.
Breakthrough at Under 14 Hurling raises spirit
Moycullen, Castlegar and Killimordaly, in other words the best in the game.
They easily accounted for Turloughmore and Sarsfields in the opening games before defeating Killimor in a great game at New Inn. Two gaols down after five minutes Athenry showed their class by fighting back to take the lead with splendid goals and then take control of the game in the closing stages. The final score of 4-5 to 4-0 shows the closeness of the contest with Killimor never giving up until the final whistle. Moycullen were Athenry's next victims with a scoreline of 312 to 1-3.
In the quarterfinal Castlegar provided the opposition in what many people considered to be the 'County Final'. It certainly lived up to expectations and all the excitement and thrills of juvenile hurling were in rich abundance. The game was full of superb hurling with a strong Castlegar side very difficult to crack. But with the Athenry defence also difficult to overcome the forwards got a sufficient supply of the bail. A goal by John Conway in the second half gave Athenry a commanding lead which they held until the end, the final score 2-2 to 0-2.
Athenry had the easiest of wins over Killimordaly in the County semi-final and qualified to meet Abbey/Duniry in the final with a 5-12 to nil victory.
There were moments of hurling magic in an absorbing County Final at Loughrea. At the end Athenry had just done enough to hold off an Abbey/Duniry come back in a hectic final-quarter. In those tense final minutes players on both teams treated the large crowd to some heroic efforts.
Having won the toss Athenry played with a fairly strong wind in the first half with Cathal Moran opening the scoring with two fine points. John Nolan added two more before Joe Rabbitte made the score five points to nil. With the prospect of facing the wind in the second period Athenry needed a goal. Terence Gannon had a good chance before the break but his shot went over the bar to give Atherny a six points to nil advantage.
The second half was always exciting and played at a hectic pace from start to finish. Gannon got another opportunity to shoot for a goal and was on target with a powerful shot for his twelfth goal in the championship. Two goals for Abbey/Duniry scored by Kevin Devine and P. J. Madden put them back into the game and set the scene for a rousing finish. Another point cut Athenry's lead to two points. As the game hung on a balance two players, who were outstanding throughout, distinguished themselves-Paul Hardiman for Athenry and P. J. Madden for Abbey/Duniry. Hardiman thundered up the field and sent over a magnificent point to give his side a three-point advantage as the seconds ticked away. With his side desperately needing a goal Madden beat the Athenry defence and hit a powerful shot that went inches above the bar just before referee Michael Haverty sounded the final whistle.
Athenry had survived to win their first County under 14 title and represent Galway at Feile na nGael in Wexford. 'When the pressure was on the Athenry players produced their best hurling" according to the Connacht Tribune 'The iron resilience of Brendan Keogh against such a splendid opportunist as P. J. Madden, the leadership of team Captain Brian Feeney at full back, Paul Hardiman's commanding display down the centre and the hard grafting John Nolan and Joe Rabbitte at midfield helped Athenry hold onto that precious lead.
In the half forward line Cathal Moran gave an impeccable performance and was always dangerous when in possession. Beside him Neil Clarke and Richard Caulfield worked very hard while Terence Gannon was a most effective full forward. John Conway and Patrick Hession were unselfish corner forwards. '
Team: Ronan Collins, Gerard Coyne, Brian Feeney, Brendan Morrissey (Capt.), Brendan Madden, Paul Hardiman, Brendan Keogh, Joe Rabbitte, John Nolan, Cathal Moran, Neil Clarke, Richard Caulfield, Patrick Hession, Terence Gannon, John Conway.
After the game Paul O'Donnell, Secretary of Coiste Iomana, presented the County under 14 cup to team Captain Brian Feeney.
Athenry represented Galway at Feile na Gael in Wexford where they were hosted by St. Enda's G.A.A. Club, Gorey. In the opening game they were convincing winners over a hard battling Gorey who kept up the pressure until the final whistle. Lismore of Waterford held on at the end of a cracking game at Monamolin in the next round for a one-goal victory.
Junior Football Team win East Galway Title
The Clubs junior footballers had impressive wins over St. Patrick's and St. Thomas's in the South/East League before defeating Kinvara narrowly in an uninspired performance at Clarinbridge. A three months delay before their next outing against Ardrahan may be one of the reasons why they again failed to play near their best and lost a game they were well capable of winning. Still they had secured sufficient points to qualify for the semi-finals and recorded an easier than expected win over Kilgerril at Bullaiin.
Sarsfields also qualified for the final that was played at Duggan Park, Ballinasloe. With a place in the county championship semi-final at stake as well as the Jack Whelan Memorial Cup Athenry were very keen to win and made no mistake. Against the wind in the opening half they gave their opponents and spectators an exhibition of constructive direct football that yielded excellent scores. A splendidly worked goal by Seamus Kearns gave a clear indication of their ability to score and points by Pearse Coffey Mixie Donoghue and John Horgan put them on their way to a comprehensive victory. At half time they had a nine point lead and were fairly in control of the proceedings.
In the second half Kearns added another goal and sent two long range points over to increase Athenry's lead which continued to increase. It was no longer a contest when he and Billy Caulfield combined for Athenry's third goal and his side went on to win 3-13 to 0-3.
It was a very impressive team performance by Athenry, Mattie Gannon was supreme in the goal making a few excellent saves, Michael Cahill, Tommy Fahy and Basil Holian were the pick of the backs with Joe Morrissey and team Captain Dermot Monaghan in control at midfield. All of the forwards played well with the scoring power of Seamus Kearns, P. J. Molloy, Luke Glynn and Pat Higgins very effective.
Team: Mattie Gannon, Michael Cahill, Francis Joyce, Tommy Fahy, Pascal Healy, Joe Morrissey, Dermot Monaghan (Capt.), Pearse Coffey, P.J.Molloy, Luke Glynn, Mixie Donoghue, Seamus Kearns, John Horgan. Subs: Pat Higgins, Billy Caulfield and Keith Nevin.
After the game the Chairman of the South/East G.P.C. Larry Larkin presented the cup to Athenry Captain Dermot Monaghan.
Through to the County Semi-Final Athenry's hopes of championship honours ended at Pearse Stadium in a heartbreaking defeat. Fielding without Pascal Healy and John Horgan Athenry started badly as Oughterard opened up a five point lead. But Athenry battled back and in the closing stages reduced the lead to one point. They missed several good scoring chances and persisted in trying for goals instead of points.
Late innocuous free cost Under 21 Hurling side place in Final
Against County champions Kiltormer in the first round of the County under 21 championship Athenry had to come from behind to force a draw in the closing stages. In the next game against Loughrea at Ballindereen Athenry lined out with fourteen players at the start of the game, as some players had not arrived on time. Despite their difficulties Athenry were far superior and had a runaway win.
Five months later the remaining game in the group against Tynagh was played at Ballinasloe and on this occasion Athenry suffered a heavy defeat going down by eleven points. The team did not play nearly as well as in previous games and the long delay almost caused Athenry's exit from the championship. But they were equal with Kiltormer on points and into a play-off with the East Galway side.
Played before a Galway v Tipperary National League game at Duggan Park, Ballinasloe, Athenry played with confidence and style from start to finish and were convincing winners by 4-14 to 2-6. It was an impressive team display with all six forwards scoring and midfielder Joe Morrissey in splendid form. Kiltormer were never in the game in the opening half and goals by Sean Keane and Morrissey put Athenry well ahead and at the interval, the score was Athenry 2-8, Kiltormer 0-1.
Kiltormer tried hard at the start of the second period but the Athenry defence proved equal to the task with Hugh Higgins and Billy Caulfield outstanding. Two goals by Seamus Kearns and Michael Waldron ended the game as a contest even though Kiltormer did manage two late goals.
Through to the county quarterfinal, Athenry were again drawn against Tynagh in a repeat of their group game.
Defeated by eleven points five weeks earlier Athenry knew that victory would not be achieved without a considerable improvement. Training was stepped up and plans made to counter Tynagh's danger men who were very difficult to handle in the previous game.
The large Athenry crowd that turned up for the game at Bulaun's new pitch were not to be disappointed. Tynagh opened with a flourish and were five points ahead after fifteen minutes but Athenry gradually took control with Joe Morrissey sending over splendid points including one from a sideline cut. Seani Keane and Sean Kindregan also had points and at halftime Athenry led by 0-10 to 1-5.
The Athenry defence was outstanding in the second half holding Tynagh to two points while the midfield pair of Joe Morrissey and Pat Higgins were unbeatable. Three points by Morrissey and one each front Pat Higgins and Gerry Rabbitte kept Athenry well ahead and they were deserving winners by 0-15 to 1-7.
Team: Peter Kelly, Hugh Higgins, Billy Caulfield, Paul Caulfield, Michael Higgins, Gerry Waldron, Pat Kavanagh, Joe Morrissey, Gerry Rabbitte, Sean Kindregan, Pat Higgins, Niall Cullinane, Sean Keane, Seamus Kearns, Michael Waldron, Sub: Michael Maloney.
A late Turloughmore goal denied Athenry a place in the County Under 21 Final in a thrill-a-minute semi-final at Ballindereern. The Connacht Tribune stated "This thrilling and tremendous encounter between two well drilled sides was dominated by Athenry until the final quarter." It all went wrong for Athenry in the closing stages, first Hugh Higgins received a facial injury but bravely battled on, then a 'freak' goal put Turloughmore back into a game they appeared to be losing. Further misfortune struck when the referee ordered Billy Caulfield off for a minor offence and in the dying seconds he gave Turloughmore an innocuous free that ended up in the Athenry net for a 3-7 to 2-8 victory.
Joe Morrissey inspired Minor B Football side win County Title
In minor football Athenry were nominated to represent the South/East Board in the football championship. They made no mistake in the opening game against Oranmore/Maree at Claregalway winning by 2-11 to 1-2. A request for a postponement of the County Semi-Final was refused and as a result Athenry fielded without five regular players against Kilconly. Played at Corofin this game turned out to be a real thriller as Athenry made the early running and led by three points at halftime. Kilconly improved considerably in the second period Athenry lead was cut to one point but with Noel Lally and Keith Nevin outstanding in their defence they held the lead until ten minutes from the end. A goal for Kilconly that put them two points ahead looked like a match winner but Athenry came storming back. With Joe Morrissey out fielding everybody at midfield they narrowed the gap to one point and almost on the stroke of time Keith Nevin sent over a free to level the scores after Morrissey was fouled. Athenry had survived a stiff test of character with a final score of 2-7 each.
Back to full strength for the replay there was no stopping Athenry after Joe Morrissey again opened up at midfield. His long probing kicks gave Athenry forwards plenty of chances and they availed of them. Even St. Jarlath's stars Joe Newell and Gerry Burke could not stop a very determined Athenry side who won by 2-10 to l-6.
The County Final against Caltra at Tuam Stadium did not live up to expectations in the opening half, as tile tension of the occasion appeared to affect both sides. It was not until the final quarter that Athenry got moving and, when they did, there was just no stopping them. With Caltra leading by three points and still dominating the game it did not look too good for Athenry. But a point by Keith Nevin started their comeback rally and, when Kevin Coyne reduced the lead to one point with a splendid point from play, the result was certainly in doubt.
Athenry brought on Joe Tighe and Gerry Hansberry in the full forward line and immediately they made their presence felt. Francis Holian put Athenry ahead with a super goal with Keith Nevin adding a point from a free to give his side a three points lead. It was now Caltra's turn to put on the pressure but the Athenry backs proved equal to the task and cleared their lines well. Joe Morrissey increased Athenry's lead with a massive point from a '45' just before referee Dennis Ryder blew for full time. The final score was Athenry 1-4 Caltra 0-3.
When Athenry got moving in the closing stages several players were impressive, but during the hour defenders Joe Coyne, Noel Lally and Keith Nevin were seldom beaten. County minor Joe Morrissey was, a tower of strength at midfield with forwards Niall Cullinane, Kevin Coyne and Barry Kearns, until injured, also impressive. The three subs. Paul Coffey, Joe Tighe and Gerry Hansberry played vital roles in Athenry's victory.
Team: Stephen Burke, Joe Coyne, Keith Nevin, Noel Lally, Gerry Rabbitte, Gerry McLoughlin, Adrian Devally, Joe Morrissey, Francis Holian, Frank Coyne, Niall Cullinane, Kevin Coyne, Barry Kearns, John Hardiman, Michael Maloney. Subs: Paul Coffey, Joe Tighe and Gerry Hansberry.
Junior Footballers win special Centenary Competition
The Clubs junior footballers with impressive wins over Fr. Griffins, Na Piarsiagh and Williamstown qualified for the County Junior Centenary Competition Final against County champions Caherlistrane. Played at Corofin on 2nd December the Athenry side after early uncertainty settled down and took control when Pat Higgins sent the ball to the net midway through the first half.
At the interval they led by two points and in the second period kept up the pressure on Caherlistrane who came back into the game with points but another goal by Pat Higgins after a well worked move gave his side a comfortable lead. Points by P.J. Molloy and Dermot Monaghan increased that lead to six points and Athenry went on to secure a well deserved surprise victory over the champions.
The full back line of Michael Cahill, Frank Joyce and young Keith Nevin gave nothing away with Tommy Fahy the pick of a hardworking half line. John Horgan when moved to partner Joe Morrissey at midfield helped his side take control of that area. In the forwards Pat Higgins and P.J. Molloy took their scores well with the hardworking Luke Glynn, Mixie Donoghue and Seamus Kearns always dangerous.
Team: Mattie Gannon, Frank Joyce, Keith Nevin, Tommy Fahy, Pascal Healy, Pearse Coffey, Dermot Monaghan, Joe Morrissey (Capt.), Pat Higgins, P. J. Molloy, Luke Glynn, John Horgan, Seamus Kearns, Mixie Donoghue.
West Board G.P.C. Secretary Sean Lawless presented the Centenary Trophy to Athenry Captain Dermot Monaghan after the game.