Our First Under 21 Title
Congratulations to Frank Burke and Gerry Holland who were recently honoured along with the entire 1972 Galway U21 Team which captured the first ever All Ireland U21 title for Galway. The celebration took place at Báireoirí na Gaillimhe's first Annual Social in the Loughrea Hotel.
Galway 2-9; Dublin 1-10
Galway claimed its first ever All-Ireland U21 title in 1972. To put this great achievement into prospective, we had only ever won 1 All-Ireland senior title and that was in 1923, almost 50 years previously. We had never won any Minor All-Ireland title or U21 for that fact. We were after coming out of a miserable unsuccessful era playing in Munster. Galway hurling seriously needed a lift.
Heading into this game there was a bit of excitement around the county that this bunch of hurlers were a bit special and could actually do it. They had defeated a Tipperary side in the semi-final with some brillant hurling. Munster had provided 7 of the 8 previous All-Ireland U21 winners (Cork's 5 and Tipp's 2), so it was no small achivement to defeat the winners from down south.
It was even reported before this final that there was more training for our U21's than was for our senior hurlers before their All-Ireland semi to Kilkenny!
The opposition in the final, Dublin, were also flying at the time and broke Wexford's quest for a four in a row of Leinster titles.
And so, on to Limerick and the game itself on Sunday 10th September 1972. There was a large Galway contingent there, and once the car was parked, the tea and sandwiches were had, we headed for the stadium and joined the excitement.
The game was fast and furious. Galway got off to a bright start when Gerry Holland pointed a free. This was added shortly after by an Andy Fenton goal after some good work by Frank Burke. Gerry Holland added another goal in the 11th minute, before Dublin's Brian Sweeney soloed through and sent the ball to the back of Eamon Campbells net. Before half time Galay added two more points, one of them a superb effort from Marty Barrett.
So at half-time the scores read Galway 2-3, Dublin 1-0. Although we had a six point lead, and played some great hurling, we all feared that with the wind with the Dubs in the second half, that we might be left to rue a total of 13 first half wides.
After 10 minutes in the second half the scores read Galway 2-5 to Dublins 1-7. Game on. The Dub's attacks came fast and hard, but it was well matched by the great defending of the Galway backs where Iggy Clarke, Frank Donoghue, Luke Glynn and the most impressive Tony Brehony broke the spirit of many of their opponents endeavours. Galway did manage to throw over 3 unanswered points, and then Dublin replied with a few of their own. Our forwards were being most efficent and took whatever few opportunities came their way.
The game was on a knife-edge with 3 minutes to go when Dublin were awarded a 21 yard free, and they only 3 points down. But the ball was shot over the bar. At this stage, very few of us were actually sitting down, and there was plenty more excitement when Gerry Holland pointed from our puck-out. P.J. Holden did bring it back again to a two point game with a late long range free, to leave all the Galway supporters most anxious. We knew a 2 point lead can be a dangerous thing, especially playing against a stiff wind, and time running out.
And there was still time for more drama, as a late Dublin attack saw the ball roll a foot wide of the far corner of an unprotectetd goal.
But when S. O'Grady, the Limerick ref, blew the final whistle, he sent a whole county wild with celebrations.
One could only feel for the Dublin side after the game, as they well matched our victors efforts. But there was a passion and spirit in the Galway play in the second half that saw us over the line. Also, a turning point in this game was the introduction before half-time of P.J. Molloy. His wizardry and slick moving were a telling difference in the second half, and was unlucky not to score a spectacular goal towards the end. He was ably assisted up front by Gerry Holland, while all other forwards worked hard to keep the pressure on the Dublin defence. Midfielder Gerry Glynn also had a great game, and he was ably assisted by Frank Burke. Overall, every player gave it all in the second half when the backs were to the wall, and the Dubs with the wind.
As a footnote, a massive function was held the following Friday in the Castlecolgan Country Club Hotel. Earlier in the evening a "road trip" was done starting early in the evening and a cavalcade of cars toured the county visiting and stopping briefly at over 10 parishes from which the players came from.
It truely was a great occasion for Galway hurling. Back then we didnt win a lot so this victory was more than celebrated. One memory is the lights of cars flashing and the beeping as what seemed like hundreds of cars made its way around the country roads. A victory to remember!
Eamon Campbell (Kiltormer), Luke Glynn (Athenry), Gerry Kelly (Athenry), Liam Shields (Ballindereen), Iggy Clarke (Mullagh), Frank Donoghue (Tommie Larkins), Tony Brehony (Tommie Larkins), Gerry Glynn 0-1 (Castlegar), Frank Burke (Turloughmore), Michael Coen (Ballindereen), Andy Fenton 1-0 (Kiltormer), Michael Donohue (Craughwell), Marty Barrett 0-1 (Ballymacward), Tom Donoghue (Killimordaly), Gerry Holland 1-4 (Turloughmore).
Subs: PJ Molloy 0-3 (Athenry) for Coen, J. Duggan for Barrett, Joe McDonagh (Ballindereen).
M. Holden, M. Leonard, N. Quinn, V. Lamb, C. Ryan, J. Brennan, E. Rheinisch, P.J. Holden 0-2, M. Greally, P. Lee 0-2, V. Holden, J. Kealy 0-3, C. Hennebery, B. Sweeney 1-0, J. Whelan 0-2.
Subs: G. O'Connell 0-1 for Greally, B. Donovan for Lee.
By: The Man with the Cap.
Back row, from left: Michael Donoghue, Luke Glynn, Frank Donoghue, Tony Brehony, Tom Donoghue, Mixie Donoghue Frank Burke, Peter Larkin, Iggy Clarke, Gerry Holland, Jimmy Duggan, Martin Fahy (son of selector Tom Fahy). Front row: Mike Kelly, Andy Fenton, Eamonn Campbell, Michael Duignan, Special Guest, Frank Fahy, Hurling Board, Michael Kelly, Hurling Board, Donie Campbell, Michael Silke, Kieran Lucas, Gerry Glynn.
Galway All-Ireland Under 21 Hurling Champions 1972?
Front Row: (left to right) Luke Glynn, Liam Shiel (RIP), Ned Campbell, Michael Coen, Iggy Clarke (captain), Tom Donoghoe, Tony Brehony and Marty Barrett. Back Row: (left to right) Gerry Kelly, Gerry Glynn, Gerry Holland, Frank Donoghue, Andy Fenton, Michael Donoghue and Frank Burke.