Clarinbridge county hurling champions
Droichead An Chlairín won their first county senior title back in 2001, and nine years later they were back on the winner’s podium again, after overcoming Loughrea in a tense replay in a thronged Kenny Park.
It was not easy, but driven on by the likes of team captain Paul Callanan, David Forde, Jamie Cannon, Barry Daly, Eoin Forde, Alan and Mark Kerins, they prevailed.
They are worthy county champions and the early months of 2011 will see whether they can add a national title to their trophy cabinet.
Goal of the year
It is impossible to look past David Kelly’s (Sligo ) stunning effort against Galway in Pearse stadium in the first round of the championship last summer.
His direct marker Alan Burke, got slipped by him on the turn, and Kelly hared past him showing tremendous pace before planting a rocket into the corner of Adrian Faherty’s net.
Galway came back to snatch a late draw with a fine goal effort by Eoin Concannon, but they lost the replay, with the Tubbercurry man again raising a crucial green flag.
Killererin collect the Frank Fox cup
The 2010 football champions took the scenic route to success and drew with both Moycullen and Mountbellew-Moylough before defeating Corofin in the county final. Some of their younger players had very fine seasons and Daniel Mannion and Micheál Boyle regularly caught the eye for their impressive contributions.
Team captain Declan Kelly led by example from corner back all season and delivered a splendid victory speech after the county final.
Alas, due to a freakish last minute goal against St.Bridgids in normal time, he did not get an opportunity to make another one, after the provincial final.
Managers of the year
Micheál Donoghue was Clarinbridge’s captain when they won the county title back in 2001, and he has worked the oracle as their manager in 2010 too.
He has a good back room team in Tom Helebert, Donal Walsh and Noel Burke and they will believe that their job is not complete yet either. The club has some unfinished business.
Many Galway clubs have gone on from county success and won All-Ireland club titles in the past few decades and that will be their objective now.
We wish them well.
Being a player manager is never easy and Tommie Joyce handled his dual mandate very well when leading Killererin to their first senior title since 2007.
He will focus on the Galway minors in 2011 and hopefully he will also have the winning touch in that role.
Honourable mention must go to Seamus Burke too, who led St. James into the senior ranks for 2011 and to the Connacht Intermediate championship later in the year.
Disappointing year for county footballers
When Galway are beaten by Sligo and Wexford (at home ), in the championship, it is difficult to gloss things up.
Sligo are a hungry and eager team and they are not an easy team for anyone to defeat, but it is still not nice to see them expecting to, and being able to beat the maroon and white.
They should have beaten Galway the first day and we can have no complaints about the defeat in the replay either. The less said about the Wexford defeat, the better.
All these one point losses are a definite worry though and it will be interesting to see whether Tomás Ó Flatharta is the man to turn things around.
Gerry Fahy’s minors looked like they were going to reach the All-Ireland final, but a late flurry of Cork scores left them on the canvass.
On the positive side of things, lads like Peadar Ó Gríofa, James Shaughnessy, Fiontán Ó Curraoin, Shane Maughan, Conor Rabbitte and Niall Walsh look like they could go on to become fine players in the future, if they get the proper coaching and show the commitment and determination required to make it at inter-county level.
However the fact that Galway have only won one Connacht minor title (2007 ) in the past five years is not good.
Hurlers collect league title but will wonder – what if?
The county hurlers annexed the league title and the Walsh Cup, and they will feel that they made progress in 2010.
However it cannot have been easy for them watching Tipperary going on to collect the Liam McCarthy cup as they will feel that they could have beaten them in the championship. What difference would Ollie Canning have made if he did not have to off injured in the last few minutes of that game?
Sport is very unpredictable and if Galway had defeated Tipp, who is to say where they would have or wouldn’t have wound up.
It is probably fanciful to say they would have gone on and beaten Waterford and Kilkenny, but with the wind at their backs, no-one can say with certainty that they would not have either.
Point of the year:
A former Galway hurling team mate of Clarinbridge’s Mark Kerins described him to me during the year as; “A terrific hurler, a mighty player for both his club and county, and a man to have with you when the chips are down”.
Kerins proved that with his sublime point in the replayed county final in Athenry. With the game in the balance in extra-time he scored a stunning point to leave no-one in attendance with any doubt about where the cup was headed.
Galway senior Camogie team lose All-Ireland final
After Noel Finn’s team beat Cork by a single point in the All-Ireland semi-final, hopes were high that this was going to be Galway’s year, and that the O’Duffy Cup was coming back West of the Shannon for the first time since 1996.
However those hopes were dashed when Wexford won the senior final relatively easily.
There was some consolation in the fact that the county minors won the All-Ireland final beating Clare on a score-line of 2-12 to 2-08.
Joe Kernan out, Tomás Ó Flatharta in
Few will forget the fanfare that greeted Joe Kernan’s arrival as Galway manager. He was introduced to the crowd in Tuam Stadium at the county final in 2009, in a manner more associated with top flight soccer than GAA.
Less than twelve months later he was gone as Galway manager, with only one championship win under his belt, against New York, and there was plenty of chitchat about the manner of his leaving.
The county board have again gone for an outside man and former Westmeath manager Tomás Ó Flatharta will walk the whitewash in 2011.
It is a time of transition for Galway football and hopes are not too elevated for the coming season.
Division One of the league will be very tough and avoiding relegation will not be easy. Managers are judged on championship success and a Connacht title should always be a genuine target for Galway.
However Roscommon, Sligo and Mayo will not see themselves in any way inferior to the current Galway squad