Hurlers are Magic around the Fields of Athenry – Christmas 1998

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Athenry G.A.A. club are on the crest of a wave with the senior hurling team having won the county championship for the third time in five years.  The senior hurling team lived up to their favourites tag from the beginning of the year and after drawing the county final they made no mistake in the replay against a spirited Abbey-Duniry outfit.  The underage structure initiated many years ago by Tom Cloonan and Sean McGovern is now reaping its rewards as Athenry fielded five adult teams in different championships in 1998.  Players like Paul Hardiman, Gerry Keane, Pat Higgins, Paschal Healy and John Hardiman are now proud holders of four county senior championship medals as well as an All-Ireland club medal.  The Athenry team had a comprehensive victory in the Connacht club final and now proceed to meet the champions from Munster in February.

Athenry Intermediate hurlers created history by being the first club to win the senior and intermediate championship in the same year.  Athenry gave a wonderful display of hurling skill, stamina, speed and courage to overcome a gallant Craughwell team on a scoreline of 17 points to 2 goals and 9 points at Ballinasloe.  The experience of captain Declan Higgins, John Hardiman, Dermot Monaghan, Michael Cahill and Pat Hession combined with the determination of minors David and Shane Donohue, Derek Carroll and Kevin McCarthy and the eagerness of Emmet Caulfield, Aidan Cahill, Richie Brady, Diarmuid Bums, Darragh Burke and John Conway ensured Athenry were going to take home the Mick Silver trophy.  Declan Higgins carried on a proud family tradition of captaining Athenry teams while John Hardiman was voted “Man of the Match” by Galway Bay FM. The scorers in the final were David Donohue 9 points, Diarmuid Burns 3 points, Emmet Caulfield 2 points, Darragh Burke, John Hardiman and Shane Donohue with 1 point each.  This victory crowned a most successful year for team manager Pat Nally and selectors Luke Glynn, Mattie Gannon, Jackie O’Shea, Martin T. Kelly and Sean Hynes who now have their sites set on a much greater prize in club hurling in the new year.  Good luck to all concerned.

Athenry also fielded 3 junior hurling teams.  The junior “A” team reached the semi-final while the junior “B” and junior “C” teams gave a good account of themselves but failed to qualify for the knockout stages- of the championship.  Well done to manager Paddy Gannon, trainer Gerry McNamara and selectors Padraic Ryan and James Lundon.  A major disappointment was the failure of the minor team at the semi-final stage where they were beaten by Mullagh.  The U-21 team have played one game so far.

In juvenile circles it was a quiet year by Athenry standards.  The highlight of the year though was the winning of the 13 a-side hurling schools championship for the first time ever by Athenry Boy’s N.S. In the final they beat their long time rivals Loughrea to record a magnificent victory.  Well done to trainer Tom Cloonan and all the team.  The U- 1 5 team won the Brian Daly tournament in Killimordaly for the third year in a row beating Sarsfields in the final.  The U-10 and U-12 teams are showing great promise for the years ahead.

Ground Purchase: Athenry G.A.A. club purchased land at Carnaun for extra playing pitches to accommodate all the teams.  This is a major undertaking by the Athenry club and a draw was launched recently to help offset the cost involved.  A draw for a car and many other worthwhile prizes will take place at the clubs annual social in January.  Tickets for same are £20 and are available from all club members. This is an excellent draw and all members and supporters are earnestly requested to support it.

Sponsorship: St. Mary’s G.A.A. club are grateful to Paddy and Olive Coffey for their generous sponsorship of all teams during 1998.  The work of the lotto committee is also appreciated to help finance the club.  The annual Christy Kelly memorial 7 a-side tournament which was won by Athenry in August was sponsored by Melia Construction.

Special Awards in 1998: Athenry club nominated P.J. Molloy to contest the Athenry Person of the Year Award which was organised by the Chamber of Commerce.  P.J. was selected from four very worthy candidates as the winner for his outstanding contribution to sport over a long period in the parish of Athenry.  The Athenry club also held a special function for P.J.  Molloy in 1998 to honour and recognise his many achievements in sport for Athenry and Galway.  The function which was held in Dobbyn and Coffey’s bar and restaurant was attended by many celebrities which included Michael Ó’Mhuirearthaigh and many former inter-county players who played with and against P.J. The junior and minor football teams of 1948 and the junior hurling team of 1957 who won their respective championships were guests of honour at a special function held in Dobbyn and Coffey’s.  Well done to Mike Quinn who initiated and organised this function.  Noreen Hanley was also selected for the club person of the year at the annual social in 1998.

Bereavements: Sincere sympathy to the family of Jim Ruane who was a member of the club executive committee for many years and his brother John-Joe who was honorary vice-president of the club also Sean Dempsey a former hurler who died during the year.

The Athenry club would also like to wish a speedy recovery to loyal supporters Carmel Farragher, John Connolly, Tom McNamara and Mattie Toole who are recovering from recent illness also Billy Caufield who played with the Intermediate team earlier in the year and was unable to play in the final due to illness.

Congratulations to former great Sean Keane and his wife Anne on the birth of their beautiful twin daughters Niamh and Emer who were born during the year.

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About this record

Written by Mixie Donohue

Published here 19 Apr 2023 and originally published Christmas 1998

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