Galway featured in the first All-Ireland hurling final in 1887 when they were beaten by Tipperary. Their first victory in a final came in 1924 when they won the 1923 decider. They played that day in blue and gold colours. They were known on other occasions to tog out in black and amber jerseys. In the 1930s the GAA decided that each county should adopt its own colours, and as UCG had won the Sigerson that year, and their captain was on the County senior team, it was decided that Galway would play from then on in maroon and white, the colours of UCG.
In the 1950s they added crests to the jerseys. The football crest featured a Galway hooker, a football and the words ‘Ceart agus Cóir’, the hurling crest was based on the coat of arms of the city with the word ‘Gaillimh’ and the initials ‘CLG’ which stood for Cumann Luthcleas Gael. In 2013, both codes adopted the same crest which was based on the hurling image with the initials GAA introduced instead of CLG.
On May 21, 1950, St Jarlath’s Park, now commonly known as Tuam Stadium, opened. It had a capacity for 26,000 people which is now reduced to 6,700. It is hard to believe that Tuam, where hurling is referred to as ‘small ball’, would host an All-Ireland hurling semifinal, but it did, in 1950. Galway were beaten by Tipperary on the day.
Our photograph (courtesy of Michael O’Donohue ) shows the team (and some of the mentors ) that lined out in that game. Back row, left to right: Donal Flynn, Ned Walsh, Johnny Molloy, Joe Salmon, ‘Inky’ Flaherty, Colm Corless, Frank Flynn, Hubert Gordon, John Killeen, and Mick Sylver. Front row; Jack Whelan, Mickey Burke, Miko McInerney, Willy Fahy, Seán Duggan, Tom Moroney, Josie Gallagher, Tadg Kelly, and Kieran McNamee.
Galway hurlers appeared in so many finals where they almost won that it was inevitable that a rumour developed about a ‘curse’ on the team. The legend was that some Galway players left a Mass early in order to make it to Croke Park on time and this so incensed the priest that he supposedly put a curse on them that they would never win the All-Ireland. Joe Connolly’s 1980 team blew that bit of folklore out of the water, and the teams of 1987 and 1988 absolutely buried it. It is our fervent wish that the 2017 team will continue to bury the piseóg on Sunday and carry the McCarthy over the Shannon again, so let’s give them all the support we can as their 16th man.
Our sincere thanks to Michael O’Donohue for today’s photograph.