98’s — Under-16 Street League champions, 1968

In 1893, a Bohermore hurling club was affiliated to the County Board. There was a strong nationalist tradition in the area and so the club evolved into Bohermore 98’s in honour of the centenary of the 1798 rebellion. The guiding lights of the club were Jim Tonery, Paddy ‘Ham’ Ruffle, and John Crowe. The club forfeited a County Championship in 1903 when one of their players was sent off. The team protested at the injustice of the decision and walked off the pitch. Their clubhouse was in Bohermore on a site that was later occupied by “Monto’s Shop” and is today covered with townhouses.

They also played football. Their catchment area was Bohermore, Prospect Hill, College Road, Eyre Square, and Woodquay. There was great rivalry between city teams and also between their supporters. During a 1920s game in the Swamp against Fr Tom Burke’s, the Bohermore full forward scored a point. His celebrations were short lived as he was smacked in the face with a herring, which was wielded by a Claddagh woman who probably believed that this was revenge for her son being ‘levelled’ a little earlier. As time went on it was becoming more and more difficult for the club to field teams.

So in the 1950s when the GAA started the Streets Leagues, it was natural that a team largely based in Bohermore should be called 98’s. There was intense competition between the teams in these leagues. The 98’s boys were mostly trained in the Plots under the guidance of Mattie Burke, and like all the other teams, they played with great enthusiasm and excitement. Great crowds turned out to watch many of the games which included a lot of memorable moments. Indeed, these leagues helped develop many great friendships between teammates and rivals alike.

1968 was a great year for 98’s as they were unbeaten at under-16 level in both codes and were crowned the Galway City Hurling and Football League Champions. Our photograph shows those victorious sportsmen. They are, back row, from the left: Kenneth O’Halloran, Michael O’Connor, Tom O’Neill, Mike Devaney, Seán Bann, Danny Cody, Ger Thornton, Pa Connell, Miko Nolan, Bernard Creaven, Mike McDonagh, Rickie Fahy, and Pat Hughes.

In front are Willie Henry, Joe Conroy, Mike Farragher, John Cloonan, Jimmy Lawless, Joe Keating, Johnny Fallon, Peter Flaherty, and Pat Molloy. This was the club’s last success but they went out in a blaze of glory as the club disbanded shortly afterwards. They are not forgotten though, and to celebrate the 50th anniversary of this great team, many of the survivors are meeting in Tonery’s 98’s bar in Bohermore at 8pm on this Saturday evening. All ex-members of the club are invited, as indeed are those who may have played against them. It promises to be an entertaining evening of fun, nostalgia and tall stories, and may the herrings be in the form of spoken words and repartee rather than the fishy type.

Our thanks to Willie Henry for his help with the above.

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