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Hurling champ Joe's dreaming of Galway win -- and new song

IT'S an iconic song ingrained in GAA folklore, but Joe McDonagh wants 'The West's Awake' put to bed.

The Galway hurler, who delighted the nation when he sang to Croke Park after his county won the 1980 All-Ireland final, says it is time for new memories.

The former GAA president is counting on Galway to succeed against Kilkenny in tomorrow's All-Ireland senior hurling final replay.

"I'd love to see another fairytale moment on Sunday or back in Galway on Monday night," he said.

"I'm sure there's a good singer in the current crop of players. Whether it's 'Galway Girl' or a Galway version of 'Jimmy's Winning Matches', it would be great to see it happen."

In 1980, Joe took the microphone from Galway captain Joe Connolly and sang 'The West's Awake' from the Hogan Stand while President Patrick Hillery, Taoiseach Charles Haughey and Bishop of Galway Eamon Casey looked on.

"It happened so spontaneously," he said. "We won the Fitzgibbon Cup with UCG up in Maynooth in 1977 and after the match the boys wanted 'The West's Awake', so that was the first airing of it.

"Then on that day in 1980 it was our manager, Cyril Farrell, who asked me to sing. Actually, he ordered me to do it!

"I was kind of conscious of where I was, but I was so used to taking orders from Cyril that I wasn't going to refuse him with the shouting he was doing.

"As soon as Joe Connolly finished his speech Cyril told me, 'Get up there and sing the song'.

"It was all very spontaneous, but it was a wonderful moment because it was so long since Galway had won an All-Ireland.

"We were after waking up after a lot of slumber."

The roars of "Gaillimh Abu!" from the 150 children at Kilcolgan Educate Together National School echoed all the way to Kilkenny yesterday.

Principal Fionnula Ni Chaoimh said all the pupils from junior infants to sixth class were hurling-mad.

"They bring the hurleys with them every day and they'll all be cheering on their heroes on Sunday," she said.

In Galway city, Dylan's cafe has already sold 1,000 maroon and white cupcakes, and they'll be giving away even more on Monday if the tribesmen win.

A marquee by the docks is the place to be for those not travelling to Dublin.

As part of the Oyster and Seafood Festival, the game will be shown on three big screens and entry is free to everyone in a Galway jersey.

Irish Independent