Sporting Year 2022

It has to be the year of the Shark, that’s John ‘Shark’ Hanlon from County Carlow. He bought a horse called Hewick. He didn’t pay dearly for it (not even a thousand euro ) and then won the Galway Plate last summer. He added another win at Sandown, and between the two he pocketed half a million euro. Not bad for a year’s work. But just last October he won the American Grand National at Fair Hills in New Jersey with a $160,000 dollar first prize. Now he is 33/1 to take the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March. D’ya think, maybe.

And now another great racing story, called ‘An audience with Ryan Tubridy and An Afternoon of Racing at Ballybrit’ also in October. No, me neither. As my dear lamented late mother might say, mind your own business.

Damien Browne made wonderful history with a row of 3,500 nautical miles over 2,688 hours when he was the first person to row from New York to Galway all on his owneo. The adventure was on his owneo because his partner and friend Fergus Farrell, also a fine scrummager and line-out man, fell ill and had to be lifted away to hospital after only 500 miles (that was just 13 days ). Browne’s journey took 112 days during which he lost about five stone! The journey took more than twice as long as Liz Truss’ tenure in the PM’s office. Ability West, Madra Dog Rescue, Galway Simon and the National Rehabilitation Hospital Foundation are to benefit from Damian’s huge efforts. Thoughtful. We must mention MacDara Hosty as he seemed to do everything except row the boat.

Padraic Joyce brought us on the trip of a lifetime, well a trip that kept us happy for this year anyway. We won the Connacht quarter-final (v Mayo ), the Connacht semi-final (v Leitrim ) and the Connacht final (v Roscommon ). Then to headquarters where we saw off the challenge of Armagh in the All Ireland quarter-final. It was the day of penalties remember, the challenge of Derry in the All Ireland semi-final and then the day of days the All-Ireland final with Kerry, the first with any opposition in a whole 21 years.

At last we honour the late Leonard McGrath probably the greatest ever GAA player to represent Galway. He played in the 1923 hurling final and the 1925 football final and won both, (don’t know if the football final was actually played, but we won anyway ). The Galway footballers beat the Galway hurlers at Oughterard Golf Club, and so are the first holders of the Leonard McGrath cup.

The other day, well Tuesday November 8, Sepp Blather gave us an insight. He said the choice of Qatar was a mistake, it’s too small a country, football and the World Cup are too big for that. And that was just two weeks before kickoff. Now there’s a man who knows what’s what!

Three Galway minor hurlers were selected on the All Ireland minor hurling team of the year. Goalkeeper Donagh Fahy (Ardrahan ), team captain and centre field man Rory Burke (Oranmore/Maree ) and corner forward Aaron Niland (Clarinbridge ). Well done lads.

A good year for Jade Goldbey who represented Ireland at the world karate championships in Denmark. She had a haul of a gold and three bronze medals. Her coach Claire Heart from back the Claddagh was well pleased too.

And lo and behold the hurling finalists Thomas’ and Loughrea couldn’t be separated at the first time of asking. They had met in the final of 2012 as well. They had to meet for the second time in this year’s final. As you would expect it went to the wire. St Thomas’ achieved their five in a row, but just by a lone solitary point, 1-15 to 0-17. St Thomas’ even won the wides, nine wides to eight wides.

With a handful of minutes remaining, we waited for the new champions to emerge, but it wasn’t to be, Conor Cooney flung over two long-range frees and Éanna Burke split the uprights in the last minute. It was that close. Powerful stuff.

The world is changing. Two West Board teams contested the county football final. Salthill/Knocknacarra and Moycullen, and they entertained us well. Moycullen were looking for their second title in three years. Salthill had it in the bag with the outcome as tight as could be, or so we thought. On or near the 56th minute mark Man of the Match Owen Gallagher let fly, oh, but it was high. When it returned to earth Peter Cooke, home from the United States, managed to control the vertical falling ball and forced it goalwards. Job done. 1-10 to 1-09, yet another solitary point dividing the combatants.

But Dunmore MacHales saw off the challenge of Kilconly in the intermediate football final and thus return to senior football where history ordains they belong. It was close 0-08 to 1-03. What relief after a wait of 17 years.

The intermediate camogie final was another tight affair with the historic Castlegar getting through in the tightest of margins with Salthill Knocknacarra 0-09 to 0-08. They saw off the challenge of St Dominic’s of Roscommon to take the Connacht title 2-10 to 3-04. Sadly they had no luck against James Stephens of Kilkenny in the final.

The Salthill Knocknacarra girls won the county LGFA final when beating St Fursey’s 3-13 to 1-3. They subsequently overcame Ballyhaunis 2-10 to 1-06 and they beat St Mary’s Kiltoghert of Leitrim 3-08 to 1-10. They defeated Drumcliffe-Rosses Point of Sligo 2-17 to 1-11 to take the Connacht LGFA Junior final. Salthill Knocknacarra accounted for O’Dwyers of Dublin in the All Ireland semi-final and prevailed over Cork’s Naomh Abán by 1-7 to 0-4 to be crowned champions.

We congratulate the All Stars of 2022, Damien Comer, John Daly and Cillian McDaid in football. Congrats to Jack Glynn on being selected Young Footballer of the Year. And we are very pleased to salute Pádraic Mannion as our sole hurling All Star.

In the Beginning

New Year’s Day was wild and wet. The kind of day one might call a duvet day.

A record 23,281 were sick with Covid, things seem not to be getting any better.

John O’Mahony was announced as the Salthill football coach, a big surprise.

700 people took to the water for a swim in aid of Cope.

The Air Dome in Bekan was ready for a busy year and got it.

Brigadier General (retired ) Jack Kissane died on the January 5. One of the last of the 1956 All Ireland Champions. A most pleasant man and a class footballer.

King Henry’s Galway hurlers beat the All Ireland champions Limerick on Saturday February 12 in the league.

JP McManus recorded his 4,000th winner as an owner at Cheltenham on Saturday January 29 when Chantry House won the Cotswold Chase.

Ladies Choice

We too mourn the passing of Kate Moran, the Athenry camogie player from Monivea. We hope the Moran Family are coping with their huge loss.

Sarsfields are All Ireland champions with an outstanding win 3-12 to 4-5 over Oulart The Ballagh. Siobhán McGrath was the player of the final. She scored 1-7, of which 1-3 were from play. Four McGrath sisters were on the Sarsfields' team - Clodagh McGrath, Niamh McGrath, Orla McGrath and Siobhán McGrath. Of course you know the daddy the coach of Sarsfields, the freat and legendary Michael ‘the Hopper’ McGrath.

And the Galway County Camogie ladies came from six points behind to beat Cork by four points in the division one final of the National Camogie League in Croke Park just before Easter. This was the fifth consecutive defeat by Galway over Cork.

Heartiest congrats to Shauna Healy on winning her Camogie All Star, the only woman from Galway so honoured this year. She was selected at corner back for the fourth year in a row. And what about Lisa Cassidy, voted the Intermediate Player of the Year.

Niamh Fahey won her 100th cap for Ireland on Wednesday February 16. She joined an elite club that included Shay Given, John O’Shea, Steve Staunton, Robbie Keane, Áine O’Gorman and others. To mark her 100th appearance she captained Ireland against Poland in a tournament game in the town of Murcia on the east coast of Spain.

Niamh helped Galway to an All Ireland senior football title in 2004. She won the FAI cup with Galway in 2007, scoring the winning goal in the final. She has a Gaelic football All Star and has been named FAI Senior Player of the year on three occasions. She also won three English Super League titles, five FA Cups and three League Cups.

In her spare time she completed her pharmacology degree at the University of Hertfordshire and is now working on her Masters at Liverpool’s John Moores University. She’s also working on her UEfA B licence. Spare time, me hat! And of course you know who the brother is. All in all, not bad for a 34-years-old. She’s up to 105 caps at this stage.

Galway champions Salthill Knocknacarra camogie team won the Connacht Intermediate championship when beating Athleague on Sunday January 30. Emma Madden was the star turn. Played last year.

Sports psychologist Karen Weekes made it across the Atlantic ocean. She rowed solo and unaided in 80 days. The 54-years-old is only the 20th woman in the world to row an ocean solo. She had set out from Gran Canaria for her destination of Bridgetown Barbados.

Heartiest congrats to Kilkerrin-Clonberne on winning their first All Ireland football title, making amends for the loss in the final of 2019, the last final played. It was the first win by a Galway club since Galway Gaels in 1982. Forty year gap or thereabouts. And in the process stopped their opponents Mourneabbey achieving their three-in-a-row. Olivia Divilly was the top scorer and they were mindful enough to give Annette Clarke a run before the end. A truly wonderful start to the New Year and a wonderful finish to the year.

Kilkerrin-Clonberne had no trouble getting past Munster champions Ballymacabry by 2-10 to 0-02 in this year’s All Ireland semi-final. And so to meet the experienced Donaghmoyne who had beaten Kilmacud Crokes in their semi-final. Kilkerrin-Clonberne emerged back-to-back champions. Olivia Divilly led the way with five points to her credit.

And more success for the women in the first month of this new year. University of Galway Mystics won the National Cup in the National Basketball Arena with Courtney Cecere taking the MVP award. She scored 15 points and Hazel Finn had 14 points.

Rachael Blackmore won the Irish Champion Hurdle on Honeysuckle at Leopardstown on Sunday February 6. Honeysuckle recorded her unbeaten run to 14 races. And Rachael Blackmore made it to Cheltenham, and herself and Honeysuckle won the Champion Hurdle for a second time in two years on the Tuesday. And then she won the Gold Cup on A Plus Tard on Friday. Add in the Grand National (that’s last years ), and she appears to be the first female to win everything. She brought Honeysuckle to victory in the Champion Hurdle at Punchestown in late April and her 16th win on the trot.

We were so disappointed to note that the Galway WFC called it quits after a decade of action and excitement. So many women got more than just a glimpse of the good times with the acquisition of under-age caps and much more.

Shauna Fox has certainly enjoyed her soccer experience with her cup and league double with Shels. Good on you Shauna from Castlelawn on the Headford Road.

Spare a thought for Stephen Moran - so much effort and sometimes things don’t just work out. Still, he has been recognised by the FAI and honoured appropriately. Now the focus will be on the new manager Phil Trill. We wish him well.

Leona Maguire won the LPGA Drive On Championship in Fort Myers on Saturday February 5, the first Irish player to win on the LPGA Tour.

Maggie Farrelly is from Cavan, and she is the first female to take charge of a men’s National Football League game and that was on Sunday February 20. The match was between Leitrim and London and played in the Beken. She even issued a yellow card to London player James Hynes. Auld rubbish you say. No way could be useful in a sports quiz down the Huntsman.

But the Sports Star of the Year goes to World Champion Katie O’Brien. Katie is the World Champion in the PR2 single sculls won in the Czech Republic in September. The daughter of Aileen O’Brien, whose dad was capped for the Connacht Junior Rugby team (a tidy outhalf ). And daughter of Iain O’Brien, the ubiquitous rugby enthusiast extraordinaire. And the sister of Seán O’Brien, the Connacht wing forward forced into early retirement after quite a few caps. Seán is a former captain of the Irish Junior World Cup team. Should mention Frank O’Brien and the late Peggy Carty. And before that, Stephen Carty, ah twas in the genes.

Sharks manager New York Ireland Sports player Dublin Galway United States Captain Super League football Easter London coach Stephen Moran Poland Spain Denmark King goalkeeper Derry Rugby Niamh McGrath National Camogie League Katie Kerry Cillian McDaid team captain Conor Cooney Sen the World Cup Qatar soccer Michael Clodagh McGrath Atlantic Ocean Prime Minister UEFA New Year's Day James Stephens Peter Cooke John Daly New Jersey Huntsman Henry West Board National Basketball Arena National Football League Brigadier General Leopardstown Damian Frank Damien Comer Owen Gallagher Leitrim Czech Republic Thomas Punchestown Oughterard Golf Club University of Hertfordshire Annette Clarke Shauna Fox Galway Simon Phil Trill Padraic Joyce Olivia Divilly Barbados Closed End Funds Robbie Keane Peggy Carty Iain Murcia GAA Player Siobhn McGrath Diversified Chemicals Emma Madden Shauna Healy Shark attacks in Australia Sports Psychologist Jack Glynn Orla McGrath Lisa Cassidy Jack Kissane Mannion Anna Burke Karen Weekes Steve Staunton Damien Browne Niamh Fahey Rory Burke COPE the Grand National Tubridy Leonard McGrath Fergus Farrell Hazel Finn Aileen Naomh Rachael Blackmore east coast of Spain Maggie Farrelly karate Leona Maguire Dunmore MacHales Courtney Cecere Aaron Niland Air Dome Clonberne Kilkerrin-Clonberne Kilmacud Crokes Chantry House Kate Moran National Rehabilitation Hospital Foundation JP McManus Donagh Fahy Intermediate Player Rachel Zietz Fair Hills English Super League Shay Given Bridgetown Stephen Carty James Hynes University of Galway Mystics class footballer Liverpools John Moores University selected Young Footballer Jade Goldbey Salthill football coach Hosty Athenry camogie player Claire Heart Fort Myers Sepp Blather Aaron Niland (Clarinbridge) Donagh Fahy (Ardrahan)

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