In 1947 the Railway Cup crossed the Shannon for the first time. The team were all from Galway. They had beaten Leinster in the semi-final by a score of 2 – 6 to 2 – 5. The man of the match in that game was Paddy Gantley. He gave another memorable display on Easter Sunday when he lined out against Munster in the final. His name used to appear on match programmes as ‘P. Gardiner’ because he was a priest, and not supposed to play hurling.
Connacht beat Munster in the final by a score of 2 – 5 to 1 – 1. Those in our photograph are, back row, left to right: Rev M Walsh, chairman, Galway County Board; Jack Whelan, secretary, County Board; Paddy Forde; Donal Flynn; Paddy Gantley; Pádraic Diviney; Tommy Lyons; Paddy Barrett from Loughrea; Paddy Jordan; Seán Duggan; S Kennedy, who worked in Corbetts; Hubert Gordon; and Mick Sylver.
In the centre row are Tadhg Kelly; Bernie Power; MJ ‘Inky’ Flaherty; John Killeen; Willy Fahy; and John Callinan. Seated in front are Stephen Gallagher; James Killeen; Jim Brophy; and Josie Gallagher.
Later on that year, on July 27 in Birr, Galway were ‘robbed’ by Kilkenny in the All-Ireland semi-final. When time was almost up, Galway were leading by two points, and looked to be on their way to the final. Jimmy Langton pointed for Kilkenny and Seán Duggan’s puck-out was expected to be the last stroke of the game. However, the referee allowed the play to continue and when Galway were ‘pulled’, Terry Leahy equalised from the free. When the ball was pucked out again, the whistle went and the crowd swarmed onto the pitch thinking it was the final whistle. To their horror, the referee waved them back and awarded a free to Kilkenny, which Jimmy Langton pointed. The ref believed the game was a draw and only discovered later that Galway had lost. Man of the match again was Paddy Gantley.
This photograph is one of the many in a new book just published entitled A History of Ardrahan GAA, 1884 – 2010 compiled and edited by Michael Howley and Tom Greene. The book is almost 600 pages long, thoroughly researched, profusely illustrated, full of local lore and legend, history, teams, characters, and different club events. There is a good section on camogie, and there are many photographs of county teams at various levels which included Ardrahan players. It was obviously a labour of love put together over several years. A wonderful achievement, available in good booksellers, a must for Galway hurling fans.
Another fine publication which came our way recently is A History of the GAA in Meelick, Eyrecourt and Clonfert, 1884 – 2007 by Christy Kearns. This volume is on a par with the Ardrahan book, but is sadly out of print now, a remarkable contribution to the social history of the area as well as the GAA history.