The Galway senior football team played in four All-Ireland finals in a row from 1963 to 1966. They lost the first one to Dublin but achieved a magnificent three in a row in 1964, 1965, and 1966. They were not the only Galway team to do so as the New York Galway senior hurling team managed a similar treble, winning the New York Championship in 1964, ‘65, and ’66.
The GAA has a long history in the US. The first organised football and hurling club in New York was set up in 1857. The number of clubs grew and competition became intense. At one point there were 40 GAA clubs in New York. The New York Senior Hurling Championships between affiliated clubs was and is administered by NY GAA, and the final is played in Gaelic Park in the Bronx for the much prized Michael Flannery Cup. Most of the clubs were based on the counties of Ireland and there was a time when every county in Ireland was represented by a hurling team. Other clubs had names like Conamara Gaels.
Galway have a very good history in this competition, winning the first one in 1915, and they were victorious again in 1940, 1942, 1946, 1951, 1964-66, 1973, 1977, 1982-84, 1968, 1989, and they are the current 2014 champions.
Our photograph today shows the Galway senior squad who were the New York champions in 1964. They are, back row, left to right: Mike Mahon, manager (Kinvara ); Joe Burke (Abbey ); Mattie Maloney (Athenry ); Paddy Egan (Castlegar ); Paddy Donoghue (Ballinakill ); John Maher (Loughrea ); John Joe Egan (Castlegar ); Jimmy Donoghue (Ballinakill ); Ken Croke (Moycullen ); Mike Conway (Ballinakill ); Frank Connolly (Craughwell ); Mattie O’Toole, mentor (Moycullen ); and John Forde, trainer (Gort ).
In front are Mike Cody (mentor ); Bernie Rohan (Newcastle ); Mike Curtin (Kinvara ); Larry Kelly (Ballinasloe ); PJ Curtin (Kinvara ); Brendan Hynes, captain (Gurteen ); Jimmy Kelly (Loughrea ); Martin Dempsey (Turloughmore ); Mike Bermingham (Dublin ); Frank Connors (Ballinakill ); Pat Keary (Loughrea ); and Jim Ryan (Ballygar ).
They beat Cork in the 1964 final and many of these players would have featured in the following two finals. The 1965 final was postponed because of objections so two finals were played in 1966, and Galway beat Offaly in both. Paddy Egan captained one of the later teams. A number of these players would have made the county team at home had they not been forced to emigrate.
This Saturday, the Galway County Board is organising a jubilee banquet in the Salthill Hotel in honour of Galway’s two three-in-a-row teams. It will be a unique GAA occasion. Details can be had from the County Board’s website or by calling 091 862500.
Our thanks to Frank Connors and Josie Harte for their help on this article.
On Monday next, December 8, the Galway Archaeological and Historical Society is hosting a lecture by Dr Joe Mannion in the Harbour Hotel at 8pm. The title of the talk is ‘The O’Kellys of Hy Many 1541-1601; English expansion in a Gaelic Lordship’ and all are welcome.