Our first Final meeting - Galway v Kilkenny in 1975
By the Man with the Cap
Galway have met the Cats plenty of times in senior championship hurling but it took until 1975 when we met for the first time in the All-Ireland Final.
Galway hurling had been in a lull during the 1960's after reaching 3 unsuccessful All-Ireland finals in the 50's. Things were now begining to take shape and this 1975 Final was our first in 17 years. Our recent form had shown much promise, with the winning earlier in the year of the NHL, beating championship favourites Kilkenny, Tipperary and Cork in the process. On top of that we managed to contest, again unsuccessfully, two minor finals in '72 and '73 (lost both to Kilkenny), while we claimed our first ever U21 title in 1972 beating Dublin by 2-9 to 1-10. A new era of Galway Hurling was here.
Kilkenny were on the otherhand much more successful. They had contested 5 of the previous 6 Senior Finals, winnng All-Ireland Senior in '69 (v Cork), in 72 (v Cork and in '74 (v Limerick). They had also won two recent minor titiles in '72, '73, while had claimed the All-ireland U21 title the previous year in 1974. In fact they had already beaten Galway by 3-13 to 2-9 in the 1975 U21 semi-final and were also contesting the Minor final of 1975.
In that '75 Championship, Galway beat Westmeath in the quarter-finals by 6-14 to 1-8, and followed that up with a superb win over Cork in the semi-final by 4-15 to 2-19. Kilkenny had beaten Dublin in their Leinster semi-final by 3-16 to 1-7, and then beat Wexford in the Leinster final by 2-20 to 2-14. (To all you young readers out there, there was no back-door back then and so Kilkenny were straight through to the All-Ireland final).
Leading up to the final the whole county were in great expectation and hopes were high. Supporters were travelling to Dublin by all modes of transport. What was interesting headlines was a group of supporters from Athenry and surrounding areas who had chartered a flight with Aer Arann for Sunday morning! Seemingly they had done it also for the All-Ireland semi-final in order to get back in time for a local festival!
Of also interest was the "All-In Radio Train" departing Ceannt Station at 10:15am. Fare was £8.50 including morning coffee and 4 course lunch, with high tea on the journey home. Music, commentary and interviews were broadcasted throughout the travel. And, guess what, the official Galway party of 64 players and officals were also on it that Sunday morning!
Another sign of the times was that there was early morning masses at 7am and 7.45am in St. Patrick's Church beside the railway station!
Galway were well tipped to win this Final. They were unbeaten up to this point in 1975, and had a team with good balance and six scoring forwards. The formbook said Galway, our hearts said Galway, but Kilkenny werent listening and they said something else.1975 All-Ireland Hurling Final
KILKENNY 2-22...........GALWAY 2-10
To sum this up......Not a good day for Galway hurling. This was our worst display of the year while Kilkenny put in a vintage display and totally outclassed the westerners. I remember everything was geared to a Galway win, even from the beggining as our side ran onto the pitch to huge shouts, while Kilkenny barely got a whimper. But with so many Galway hurlers having an off-day, this result was envitable from an early stage.
Playing with the wind in the first half, Galway found themselves 0-9 to 1-3 down at the interval. But the reality was that we were well behind. Early in the second half Kilkenny scored an early 1-3 to put this game to bed, and although Galway did reply with 1-1 and were only 4 points behind with 25 mins left on the clock, there was never any doubt in this match.Galway:
Michael Conneely (Sarsfields), Niall McInerney (Liam Mellows), Joe Clarke (Mullagh), Padraic Lally Ballinasloe), Joe McDonagh (Ballindereen), Sean Silke (Meelick-Eyrecourt), Iggy Clarke (Mullagh), Sean Murphy (Carnmore), John Connolly (Castlegar) Capt, Gerry Coone (Mullagh), Frank Burke (Turloughmore) , P.J. Molloy (Athenry), Marty Barrett (Padraig Pearses), P.J. Qualter (Turloughmore), Padraig Fahy (Carnmore).
Subs: Michael Connolly for Barrett, Ted Murphy for Lally, Seamus Grealish for Murphy, Michael Hannify, Peadar Ryan, Vincent Mullins, Tom Murphy, L. Bohan, J. Faul.Kilkenny:
Noel Skehan, Fran Larkin, N. Orr, Brian Cody, L. Lawlor, Pat Henderson, T. McCormack, Larry O'Brien, Frank Cummins, M. Crotty, P. Delaney, Billy Fitzpatrick (Capt), Mick Brennan, Kieran Purcell, Eddie Keher.Note:
There was a clean sweep of titles for Kilkenny in that year - they beat Cork in both the Minor and U21 finals. Galway's next appearance was in the 1979 final, again to Kilkenny. Kilkenny's next appearance was also in 1979, in which they again defeated Galway. Brighter days were just around the corner for Galway!
1975 Hurling All-stars
N. Skehan (Kilkenny), N. Mclnerney (Galway), P. Hartigan (Limerick), B. Cody (Kilkenny), T. O'Connor (Tipperary), S. Silke (Galway), I. Clarke (Galway), L. O'Brien (Kilkenny), G. McCarthy (Cork), M. Quigley (Wexford), J. McKenna (Limerick), E. Grimes (Limerick), M. Brennan (Kilkenny), K. Purcell (Kilkenny), E. Keher (Kilkenny).