A history of camogie in Galway

As in hurling in 1887, Galway took part in the first All-Ireland senior camogie final in 1932 which was played in Galway Sportsground.

In the only All-Ireland senior camogie final to be played outside Dublin, with the late Stephen Jordan TD of Athenry as referee, Dublin defeated Galway in windy and wet conditions by 3-2 to 0-2. Galway went on to participate in the All Ireland senior final in 1933, '37, '39, '40, '46, '60, '62, and '93 without success.

Although University College Galway (UCG ) captured eight Inter-Varsity Ashbourne titles, success had eluded the county until Presentation Convent, Oranmore, brought the All Ireland Colleges title to Connacht for the first time in 1972. Later that year, the Galway junior camogie team were the first Connacht side to win an All-Ireland title, captained by Nono McHugh and coached by legendary Galway hurler Jimmy Duggan.

In 1977, Galway took the All-Ireland minor title, and since then Galway teams have captured every national camogie title. And in 1996, Galway made the ultimate breakthrough when they captured the All-Ireland senior championship for the first time that the Sean O’Duffy Cup came to the province of Connacht.

That day in 1996 will be cherished for many years. Mullagh’s Imelda Hobbins became the first Connacht player to lift the O’Duffy Cup in Croke Park after Galway had defeated Cork by 4-8 to 1-15. Galway scored 3-1 in a seven minute spell in the second half to turn a three point deficit into a six point lead. Among Galway’s stars on that unforgettable day were two goal heroine Denise Gilligan, goalkeeper Louise Curry, Pamela Nevin, Sharon Glynn, and Dympna Maher who crowned an outstanding display with a superb 43rd minute goal. These players and others including Olive Costello, Ann and Olivia Broderick, Carmel Hannon, Martina Harkin, Carmel Allen, and Gretta Maher were to become household names.

And then after a 17-year wait and five final losses, Galway emerged champions again for the second time in 2013 after defeating Kilkenny 1-9 to 0-7. Ailish O’Reilly’s first half goal put Tony Ward’s team in control with Niamh McGrath and Noreen Coen converting important scores. Top players for Galway included Therese Manton, Sarah Dervan, Heather Cooney, Sinead Cahalan, Lorraine Ryan, McGrath, O’Reilly, and Coen. Also included were great stalwarts like Brenda Hanney and Ann Marie Hayes plus one of Galway’s finest, Therese Maher, who ended a glorious 17 year career with that elusive medal her talents deserved.

Camogie had been played in Galway since the early 1900s, and UCG won the third Ashbourne title in 1917. The setting up of Galway County Board in the 1920s set the foundation for greater things and in 1928, Galway participated in the Tailteann Games. Galway was the first county in the province to become actively involved at national level in the growing Camogie Association.

Over the years Galway produced many top class players, with Peg Morris who captained the first Galway team of 1932 becoming a legend of her own time. Peg Lahiffe, Nora Conroy, Una O'Riordan, Della Kearney, Nora O'Connell, Monica Duggan, Celia Mulholland, Bridie Murray, Chris Conway, Frankie Coen-Fox, Kathleen Higgins, Veronica (Ronnie ) Heneghan, Emer Walsh, Eileen Naughton, Sheila Tonrey, and Kay Quinn were just a small number of players who gave sterling service to Galway teams and never won an All-Ireland medal.

Since then many players have captured numerous All Ireland honours with Galway continuing to dominate at college, club, and county level. Galway clubs Oranmore, Athenry, Mullagh, Pearses, and Killimor have captured All-Ireland senior club honours while Castlegar were crowned All-Ireland intermediate club champions. And at underage level, the under 16 crown was won as recently as 2010, the minors achieved glory in 2010 and 2012, and the intermediates secured the Jack McGrath Cup as recently as 2013.

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