Athenry's Pat Higgins and Galway captain Anthony Cunningham celebrate the county's first All-Ireland Minor Hurling victory.
There was an air of optimism at the start of the year as the achievements of the Clubs underage teams had aroused considerable interest. The County championships were eagerly awaited, but for most of the Club's teams had little luck, particularly in three championships defeats by one point.
It was obvious that major changes would have to be made if the senior team was to avoid relegation and as a result the youngest senior team in the County was fielded. Even though they did not reach the knockout stages they proved that with a little experience they would be a force.
Seven of the previous years successful under 21 side were selected on the team to play Kinvara in the first game of the championship. Athenry started well with P. J. Molloy sending over a point and after fifteen minutes they led by six points. At the interval Kinvara were five points in arrears.M
The second half was always exciting as Kinvara came back to level the scores, with Athenry going ahead again only to be pulled back in the final minutes by splendid points from Kinvara. The final score of 2-10 to 1-10 gave Kinvara a narrow and somewhat lucky win.
In a high scoring game of widely fluctuating fortunes Athenry lost to Loughrea by the narrowest of Margins 6-5 to 2-16 in the next round. Athenry who scored eighteen times to Loughrea's eleven were voicing their disappointment with the referee who disallowed two Athenry 'goals', particularly one near the end that would surely have given them victory. Not to mention his decision not to give Mixie Donoghue a free in the final seconds when he appeared to be fouled on at least three occasions in front of the goal.
These incidents apart, Athenry's failure in defence would more accurately reflect the causes of their defeat. Gerry Holian was at his brilliant best sending over four splendid points, closely followed by P. J. Molloy who scored a goal and eight points. Athenry were very unlucky to make their exit from the championship but still had a very important engagement with near neighbours and keenest of rivals, Killimordaly.
On the eve of the Loughrea game Pascal Healy lined out with the County team against Clare at Castledaly at the opening of St. Thomas' new ground. Galway were convincing winners but the game was marred somewhat by an unfortunate knee injury to Healy. Hospitalised for over a week with a severe cut on his knee his potential loss to the Club and County teams for the remainder of the year was feared. But Healy battled with the injury and declared himself fit four weeks later for the Killimordaly game.
He lined out at full back in what turned out to be a thrilling contest. "A point makes difference in twelve goal thriller- was the caption in the Connacht Tribune. Killimordaly forged ahead assisted by a stiff breeze in the first half and at the interval led by twelve points. in a rousing second half Athenry battled back into contention mainly due to an energetic Mixie Donoghue who scored four goals. Five minutes from time substitute Pat Higgins slammed in a goal that gave Athenry the lead for the first time in the game. Killimordaly regained the lead with a gaol but Donoghue put Athenry back in front with his fourth goal. With less than a minute to go Michael Haverty levelled the score with a point from a '65'. A quick puck out was caught at midfield by Dermot Monaghan, who with the second last stroke of the game scored the all-important point. It was a remarkable win but of little use to Athenry because they were out of championship contention. The final score read Athenry 7-7 Killimordaly 5-12.
Team: Billy Caulfield, Vincent Kelly, Pascal Healy, Michael Cahill, Gerry Waldron Gerry Dempsey ,Luke Glynn, Dermot Monaghan, Adrian Ruane, Seamus Kearns, Gerry Holian, Mixie Donoghue, Sean Keane, P. J. Molloy, Michael Waldron, Subs: Joe Morrissey and Pat Higgins.
In the remaining game against Mullagh, Athenry started badly and did not take their scores. The East Galway side improved as the game progressed and at the end were convincing winners.
The Clubs under 21 hurlers easily accounted for Beagh, Gort and Ardrahan in their opening games of the championship. Their next opponents were Kiltormer, a side which had several members of County teams including senior players Ollie Kilkenny and Aidan Staunton, under 21's Brendan Dervan and Joe Rodgers and minors Pakie Dervan and Declan Jennings. Played at St. Brendan's Park, Loughrea this game was one of the best contests of the year with Athenry winning by 2-8 to 1-6.
It was Athenry who dictated the play from start to finish with every player on the field playing flat out. Billy Caulfield gave his best ever display between the posts, as did Vincent Kelly at full back. Pascal Healy outplayed Staunton while Sean Keane at centerfield was unbeatable. In the forwards Seamus Kearns got the better of his tussle with Ollie Kilkenny and got vital scores. Joe Morrissey and Pat Higgins each had a goal with Higgins coming near the end to clinch a splendid victory.
Athenry were through to the quarterfinal against Sarsfields at Duggan Park, Ballinasloe, and a game, which was not played until three months later. Again this Athenry team gave a fine display but were caught by a late goal and a point that gave Sarsfields victory by 1-8to 1-7. Athenry had no luck-they led by three points with as many minutes remaining when Sarsfields sneaked a goal to level the scores. Michael McGrath added a point almost on full time and Athenry just did not have time to come back. Still they had some fine performers particularly in defence.
The minor hurling team accounted for Abbey/ Duniry in their opening game winning by one point but lost to the eventual finalists Tynagh. Pat Higgins and Joe Morrissey were outstanding for Athenry against Tynagh but defensive blunders in the second half-proved very costly after the sides had ended the first half level.
Team: Michael Doherty, Peter Kelly, Gerry Rabbitte, Stephen Canavan, Kevin Coyne, Michael Maloney, Anthony Jennings, Joe Morrissey, Niall Cullinane, Pat Higgins, Dermot Monaghan, Tony Ruane, Joe Higgins, Sean Kindregan, John Flaherty, Subs: Francis Flaherty and John Hardiman.
Though not included in the team at the start against Tipperary in the All-Ireland Minor semi-final at Croke Park, Pat Higgins came on early in the second half as Galway and Tipperary played a thrilling draw, 3-10 each. In the replay he was on from the start, played a splendid game and was involved in most of Galway's scores with "Cyril Farrell's 'team" winning a bruising battle 1-7 to 0-8. In their third final in-a-row Galway went on to win the County's first minor title, defeating Dublin by 0-10 to 0-7. After eleven previous appearances in finals without success Galway had finally ended a hoodoo. For Pat Higgins it was a day of anguish and joy-concussed during the first half in a goalmouth tussle he had to be replaced at halftime. However the Athenry lad had played his part in a historic win. The victorious team were given a tremendous reception when they returned to Galway on the Plagued by injury Pascal Healy returned to the Galway under 21 team for the All-Ireland Final against Tipperary and was picked at centrefield. The Athenryman "gave an exhibition of style, craft and commitment' and this earned him man-of-the-match in the Irish Press as Galway defeated Tipp. by 0-12 to 1-6 and won they're third All-Ireland Under 21 crown.
The Club's minor footballers were deserving winners of the East/South Final against Loughrea at Castledaly. In the first half Athenry aided by the breeze were in control after a forty-yard shot by Stephen Canavan went all the way to the net. Loughrea battled back into contention and only trailed by two points at the interval.
Now it was Loughrea's turn to press, aided by the elements it was not long before they narrowed the gap. But the Athenry defence responded well with Gerry Rabbitte, Keith Nevin and Joe Coyne being particularly impressive. A goal by Pat Higgins clinched victory for Athenry in the closing stages.
Garry Kelly had a sound game at corner back for Athenry who were also well served by Adrian Devally and Joe Higgins, MJoe Morrissey was a tower of strength when moved to centre back in the second half. With Anthony Jennings, Stephen Canavan and Pat Higgins being the best of the forwards. The final score was 2-7 to 0-7.
Team: Stephen Burke, Joe Coyne, Gerry Rabbitte, Garry Kelly, Keith Nevin, Sean Kindregan, Adrian Devally, (Capt.), Joe Morrissey, Joe Higgins, Anthony Jennings, Stephen Canavan, Tony Ruane, Kevin Coyne, Pat Higgins, Oillie Loughnane. Subs: Michael Doherty, Peter Kelly and John Hardiman
After the game Tommy Kelly, Secretary of the Board presented the cup to Athenry Captain Sean Kindregan. In the County Quarter-Final Athenry lost to Oranmore/Maree by one goal at Pearse Stadium a game which was played on one of the worst days of the year.
After a lapse of two years the senior camogie team won back the County title defeating Oranmore in the County Final.
Showing great determination and skill they qualified for the All-Ireland Club Final with an impressive seven point win over Portglenone.
The Noel Keogh Memorial Trophy, presented annually since 1980 to the outstanding juvenile player of the year, was awarded to Gerry Keane. The previous winners were Joe Morrissey (1980), Barry Kearns (1981) and Kevin Coyne (1982).
Feile na Coiribe Under 15 Hurling Champions 1983
Front Row: (left to right) Cormac Cullinane, Liam Higgins, Neil Clarke, Cathal Moran, Brendan Madden, Middle Row: (left to right) Joe Rabbitte, Paul Hardiman, John Nolan, Padraic Smyth, Brendan Keogh, Gerard Coyne, Brendan Morrissey, Eamonn Keogh, Back Row: (left to right) Michael Hansberry, Tommy Morrissey,Brian Feeney, John Rynne, Joe Maloney, Gerard Keane, Kevin Holian, Terry Nolan and Peter Kelly.
Newcastle National School Winners of Galway Primary Schools League
Front Row: (left to right): John Redmond, Terence Gannon, Jimmy Nolan, Ronan Collins, Cathal Moran, Brendan Keogh. Back Row: (left to right): Jim Feeney, Kerrill Ruane, Brian Feeney, Joe Rabbitte, John Nolan, Finbarr Sheridan and John Curran.
Galway All-Ireland Minor Hurling Champions 1983
Front Row: (left to right) Pat Higgins, Gerry Mcinerney, Pat Malone, Anthony Cunningham, Martin Killeen, Padraic Brehony, Joe Cooney, Back Row: (left to right) Declan Jennings, Sean Keane, Tom Monaghan, John Cummins, Tom Maloney, Pakie Dervan, J.J. Broderick and Sean Treacy.
Galway All-Ireland Under 21 Hurling Champions 1983
Front Row: (left to right) Michael Coleman, Gerry Burke, John Murphy, Tommy Coen, Michael McGrath, Peter Casserly, Albert Moylan. Back Row: (left to right) Brendan Dervan, Pascal Healy, Aidan Staunton, Ollie Kilkenny, Martin Donoghue, Michael Costello, Tony Keady and Peter Finnerty.