The first ever Junior Hurling Championship Final saw Turloughmore - Sarsfields emerge as victors in the year 1907. That great team which included great hurling legends like Walter Murphy and Pat Greaney was captained by Augustine O’Brien of Monard. The county Junior title came again to the Parish of Lackagh in 1943 with a victory by Coolarne and in 1949 and 1954 when St. Vincents captured the coveted title.
In recent years Turloughmore’s performance in the Junior championship left a lot to be desired and on many occasions found it difficult to scrape 15 players to field a team. The appointment at last year’s Annual General Meeting of former County Minor Kevin Holland, who had given sterling service to Turloughmore Club as a player in defence and in attack and was a member of the 1985 victorious Turloughmore Senior team, as team manager of this year’s Junior team paved the way for future success. Kevin was joined on the selection panel by Jimmy McGrath, who has also given sterling service to junior, as a player and mentor for several years. The Holland McGrath duo took a detailed look at the club’s performances in recent years and decided on a panel of youth with a little experience added in. All players were contacted, many of whom had done little hurling since leaving school because of the failure of the club to participate in the Under-21 Championship in recent years. The Turloughmore management team received a tremendous response from the players and they set their aim on winning the Junior Championship.
Drawn in a group with Ardrahan and Athenry, Turloughmore played their first game against Ardrahan in Athenry. Leading comfortably at half time Ardrahan fought back bravely in the second half but Turloughmore held on to win and earn two valuable points from their first outing. Turloughmore played Athenry in Castlegar and were humiliated by a strong Athenry team who outclassed and out-hurled the young Turlough lads in almost every section of the field. Ardrhan lost to Athenry which saw Turloughmore qualify for the quarter-final stages of the Championship for the first time in several years.
Turloughmore played Spiddal in the quarter-final game at Carnmore. They were leading comfortably at half time despite having lost Timmy Joyce midway through the first half with a serious shoulder injury. A great second half performance by Spiddal saw them come back on level terms with Turloughmore, with eight minutes remaining. Turloughmore then introduced two of the clubs minor team - with the introduction of Damien Madden who moved into centre back and Francis Forde who moved in at corner forward. These switches proved inspirational for Turloughmore and it was County minor star Forde who broke through to score two great points with Turloughmore playing against the strong breeze to see Turloughmore reach the county semifinal.
The county semi-final was also played at Carnmore with Turloughmores opponents Rahoon-Newcastle. The city side were fancied to take the Junior Championship this year. The County Minor Final was complete so Turloughmore had a full complement of players. Damien Madden started at midfield joining his brother Paul. Francis Forde was introduced to the game early in the first half when injury forced his brother John off the field. The accuracy of Forde from frees proved vital in this game and two great goals by Francis Duffy paved the way for victory. With five minutes remaining Turloughmore held on to a slender two point lead and once again it was young Francis Forde who broke through for two important points to seal victory and Turloughmore Juniors had qualified for their first County Final since 1984.
Turloughmore’s opponents in the County Final were Athenry, and Turloughmore agreed to travel to Kenny Park, Athenry. Turloughmore were determined to get revenge on the Athenry team who had so easily and comprehensively defeated them in Castlegar in the earlier rounds. There was an air of hope in the club that Turloughmore could take Athenry by surprise. The game was played in very wet and misty conditions and with both teams missing many scoring opportunities, Athenry held on to a slender one point lead with the score reading Athenry 0-4, Turloughmore 0-3 and 12 minutes remaining. The game then took a dramatic change, Young Francis Forde blocked an Athenry line ball and flicked on to Timmy Joyce who sent a high probing ball in towards the goal. Substitute full forward, veteran Gerry Holland reached high to catch the ball and headed towards the goal. He was pulled down in the small square and Turloughmore were awarded a penalty. Young Francis Forde stepped up and hammered the ball to the net to give Turloughmore a two point lead. From the puck-out Timmy Joyce won possession and flicked to John Burke who added a great point. Another point from play by Francis Duffy was followed by two from Francis Forde, the first from a line ball and the second from a “65”.
Turloughmore went on to record a historic victory of 1-7 to 0-5 for Athenry. Turloughmore had bridged a 37 year gap and there were historic links with the past. Captaining Turloughmore in their historic 1991 success was Michael O’Brien of Monard who was a grandnephew of the victorious 1907 Turloughmore-Sarsfields team captain, Augustine O’Brien. The memories of the past Junior victories of ‘43, ‘49 and ‘54 were recalled as the present team members had joined in the annals of Turloughmore Junior Hurling History with names of McGraths, Shaughnessys, Morris, Feeneys, Egans, Gill, Fahy and Doyle but most discussion centred on the super-subs of 1954 and 1991. In 1954 the introduction of the late Willie (Reilly) Morris led to St. Vincents great victory and now 37 years later the introduction of super substitute Francis Forde inspired Turloughmore to their fifth County Junior title.