Sport Hurling

Thursday 18 September 2014

THE MEN WHO CHANGED THE FACE OF GALWAY HURLING

Published 07/09/2005 | 00:11

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GOALKEEPER Michael Conneely (Sarsfields) Aged 30 (in 1980) 'Big Mike' made his Galway debut in 1974 when he attended a game as a spectator but got called in when the two first choice goalkeepers cried off. Gave an excellent performance in the 1980 final and later managed Sarsfields to two All-Ireland club titles.

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Self-employed in the financial services sector.

RIGHT FULL-BACK Conor Hayes

(Kiltormer) - Aged 22

Currently the Galway manager, he spent the summer of 1980 in Amsterdam after injuring his thumb but responded to an SOS call from Cyril Farrell following the semi-final win over Offaly. "No point having him picking tulips in Amsterdam or whatever he was up to," said Farrell. Captained Galway to double All-Ireland success in 1987-88.

A Consulting Engineer.

FULL-BACK Niall McInerney

(Liam Mellowes) - Aged 30

Sadly, Niall died last year at the age of 54. A native of Clare with whom he played at senior level, he moved to Galway in the early 1970s. Hugely popular throughout the county, Niall was a teacher by profession. His joust with current Limerick manager Joe McKenna was one of the highlights of the 1980 final.

LEFT FULL-BACK Jimmy Cooney

(Sarsfields) - Aged 24

One of the famous Cooney hurling clan, Jimmy was a tight, tigerish corner-back who brought a great sense of determination to his game. Younger brother Joe later went on to be one of the best forwards of his generation. Jimmy had an excellent final in 1980 and took up refereeing when his playing days finished.

A farmer in his native Bullaun.

RIGHT HALF-BACK Sylvie Linnane

(Gort) - Aged 23

The fiery Gort man developed a cult following in his long and distinguished career in which he won three All-Ireland senior medals, two as a corner-back in 1987-88. Never flinched a challenge but was also very skilful, even if he never quite got the credit that it deserved.

Works as an excavation contractor.

CENTRE-BACK Seán Silke

(Meelick-Eyrecourt) - Aged 29

Currently a Galway selector, he brought a great sense of elegance and intelligence to his play. Played a major part in Galway's League breakthrough in 1975 and was even more influential in their All-Ireland win five years later.

Human resources manager

LEFT HALF-BACK Seamus Coen

(Mullagh) - Aged 22

With Iggy Clarke out with a shoulder injury, it looked like a choice between Joe McDonagh and Castlegar's Gerry Glynn but the management opted to bring Coen out from corner-back, a move that was vindicated on final day. Coen is a current Galway selector.

Runs light engineering company.

MIDFIELD Michael Connolly

(Castlegar) - Aged 27

One of three brothers on the team, Michael was a hard-working, reliable midfielder who went about his game quietly and efficiently. 1980 was a great year for the Connollys as six of them also featured on the Castlegar team that won the All-Ireland club title.

A building contractor.

MIDFIELD Steve Mahon

(Kilbeacanty) - Aged 22

A strong, imposing figure, he stood the test of time, winning another All-Ireland medal in 1987 while he was injured for the successful 1988 campaign.

A blocklayer.

RIGHT HALF-FORWARD Frank Burke

(Turloughmore) - Aged 28

An All-Ireland U-21 medal winner in 1972, he developed into an excellent senior player, lining out No 10 and 11 for many years. Noted for his goal-scoring exploits, he also brought a strong physical presence to his game.

Retired from school-teaching and is now involved in video and publishing enterprises.

CENTRE HALF-FORWARD Joe Connolly

(Castlegar) - Aged 24

"We appointed him captain because he had great leadership qualities. Besides, he was neither one of the old or the new set and would be a unifying force," recalls Cyril Farrell. It was an inspired choice as Connolly made an excellent captain while his winning speech on All-Ireland day is still remembered.

Former project manager for Pearse Stadium, he has returned to work in the private sector.

LEFT HALF-FORWARD PJ Molloy

(Athenry) - Aged 28

Scored a crucial goal against Limerick in the 1980 final. His enduring nature enabled him to win a second All-Ireland medal as a sub in 1987. Later managed Athenry to All-Ireland club glory.

Works in the local Co-op.

RIGHT FULL-FORWARD Bernie Forde

(Ardrahan) - Aged 23

Captained Galway to success in the 1978 All-Ireland U-21 final and made a crucial contribution to the county's senior success in 1980, scoring an early goal against Limerick in the final.

A Department of Agriculture official.

FULL-FORWARD John Connolly

(Castlegar) - Aged 32

A father-figure to the team, he had won an All-Star award in the first year of the scheme in 1971. The High King of Castlegar brought a truly regal presence, first as a midfielder and later as a full-forward. He had all the natural attributes to make an exceptional hurler but despite his successes he always retained a great modesty.

A building contractor.

LEFT FULL-FORWARD Noel Lane

(Ballindereen) - Aged 24

Like Conor Hayes, Sylvie Linnane, Steve Mahon and PJ Molloy, he was still around when Galway won the 1987 All-Ireland title when he scored a crucial late goal as a sub against Kilkenny, a feat he repeated the following year against Tipperary. Managed Galway in their last All-Ireland final appearance in 2001.

Works with Coillte, the State forestry service.

Subs: Michael King (Padraig Pearses), Joe McDonagh (Ballindereen), Gerry Glynn (Castlegar), Finbarr Gantley (Beagh), John Ryan (Killimordaly) R.I.P, Padraig Connolly (Castlegar), Michael Mulkerrins (Sarsfields).

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