An eight point winning margin over Ardrahan in the first round of the County Senior Hurling Championship was just the start Athenry needed. Played in poor weather conditions at Kenny Park, the game produced some thrilling and exciting hurling. Athenry were first to score when their star of the game Gabriel Coffey sent over a free from sixty yards. J. J. Kelly put Athenry further ahead before his side was awarded a 21-yard free. Coffey tried for a goal but P.J. Mahony saved it. The rebound however came to Sean Redmond who sent it to the net. Athenry added further points and at the interval led 1-5 to 0-1.
A goal by Gabriel Coffey early in the second half from a twenty five-yard shot put Athenry further ahead and despite the best efforts of Michael Howley, Michael Bond and Johnny Mahony for Ardrahan they held on for a comfortable win.
Team: Mark Donnellan, Gerry Kelly, Anthony Freaney, Noel Kelly, Paddy Gannon, John Donnellan, Willie Cummins, Luke Glynn, Gerry Holian, Gabriel Coffey, Ray Glynn, Sean Redmond, P J Molloy, J.J. Kelly, Jim Jordan
In an incident laden game at Duggan Park Athenry were well defeated by Killimordaly 3-12 to 3-0. Two players from each side were sent off late in the first half. A similar incident early in the second half also helped spoil what promised to be a good game. Killimordaly's point scoring ability proved decisive while Athenry failed to raise even one white flag and were knocked out of the cup. Abbeyknockmoy had a surprise win over Athenry in the North Board Minor Final at Mountbellew winning by 4-6 to 3-5 while the Club's under 16 team went down to Turloughmore after a good win over Ahascragh in the first round of the championship.
The under 21 hurlers retained their North Board title, defeating Abbeyknockmoy by 4-10 to 3-6 in the semi-final and Turloughmore in the final at Tuam by 2-13 to 1-8. Athenry came from behind after being three points down at the interval against 'Turlough' to capture their sixth North Board under 21 title. Michael Morrissey who scored Athenry's two goals was in fine form and Sean Hynes, P.J. Molloy, Michael Donnellan and Gerry Holian also causing problems for the Turloughmore defence.
Team: Kevin Healy, Martin Caulfield, Chiristy Morrissey, Tony Kelly, Albert Glynn, Stephen Murphy, Basil Holian, Leo Coffey, Gerry Holian, P.J. Molloy (Capt.), Sean Hynes, Gerry Dempsey, Michael Morrissey, Des Lynch, Michael Donnellan.
In a thrilling County semi-final against East Board champions Loughrea, Athenry appeared to be fighting a losing battle with six minutes left and trailing by three points. But points by Michael Morrissey and Gerry Holian from play and one from a free by P.J. Molloy levelled the scores seconds before fulltime. The final score 2-6 each.
Athenry were deserving one-point winners in the replay. They went out to play hard uncompromising hurling and once they got going victory was on the cards. They wasted no time in their quest for success and foraged well for the ball and took any knocks ensuing. Michael Donnellan slammed in a goal for Athenry during a closely contested first half and at the break the scores were level at 1-4 each. In an exciting second half Loughrea took the lead but Athenry with P.J. Molloy, Sean Hynes, Gerry Holian and Michael Donnellan at their best were too strong and held on to their one point lead in a hectic finish.
Loughrea lodged an objection which was not heard by the County Board until the following January. After ruling part of the objection out of order the Board then ruled in favour of Athenry. As a result the County Final was not fixed until March. Played at Kinvara Athenry were well beaten by Oranmore/Maree 5-17 to 1-6 and the long delay between the semi-final and final certainly did not help Athenry's chances.
Galway's minor hurling team qualified for the All-Ireland Final with a 3-14 to 3-10 win over Tipperary in the All-Ireland semi-final at Ennis. Gerry Holian played at midfield and in the final against Kilkenny gave Galway supporters plenty to cheer about when he decided to take over around centerfield. He electrified the crowd with a series of solo sprints that left Kilkennymen floundering helplessly in his wake. Unfortunately for him and Galway a late Kilkenny goal gave them a one-point victory margin 4-5 to 3-7.
Newly ordained Fr. Willie Cummins
The Club contributed to the Frank Corr Testimonial Fund launched by the Antrim County Board to provide some tangible help for his wife and family. Frank, who was brutally murdered, for no apparent reason other than his religion, had spent a Sunday just before his death escorting members of the County hurling team from Monaghan to Ballycastle for a National League game. Understanding Galway's apprehension about travelling at the time through Northern Ireland, it was surely one of life's tragic ironies that he should die because he did not fear for his own safety.
On a happier note the Club at their Annual General Meeting passed a warm vote of congratulations to Willie Cummins on his ordination to the Priesthood. A proposal at the Clubs Annual General Meeting to change the name of the Club to "Raheen Gaels' caused a lengthy discussion. The hall appeared to be divided on the proposal and many collars had to be loosened by delegates in their quest for a compromise. Frank Kilkelly queried the validity of the proposal and in a witty comment asked "What 'Gaels' live down there anyway?"
The meeting appeared to be heading for an abrupt end when it was decided to evacuate the hall to allow those supporting the proposal to discuss it between themselves. After a brief period the meeting was recalled and the proposal withdrawn.
At their first attempt Athenry won the County Junior Camogie title with a 2-4 to 0-1 victory over Mervue in the final at Ballindereen. The result was in doubt up to the closing stages when goals by Josephine Coen and Greta O'Brien gave Athenry a clear lead and they held on to win a well-deserved crown. Athenry's best were Ann Donoghue, Lucy O'Brien and Marian Kindregan.
Galway All-Ireland Minor Hurling Finalists 1973
Front Row: (left to right) Fred Power, Tom Murphy, Sylvie Linnane, Jackie Dervan, Brian Kelly, Eamonn Dooley, Michael Hanniffy, Back Row: (left to right) Gerry Burke, Gerry Holian, John Donoghue, Gerry Maher, Frank Larkin, Hugh Siike, Gerry Lohan and Gerry Murphy.