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Brief History of Ballinasloe Hurling Club

 Transcribed and submitted by Damian Mac Con Uladh

Brief History of Ballinasloe Hurling Club

by ?

It would appear that hurling was never indigenous to Ballinasloe: by 1937 when a Junior Hurling team was entered by the Club for the first time, the Club already had been undefeated Senior Football champions in the period 1913 to 1930. Even then, it was largely through the efforts of Paddy Forde and Michael Lynch of Ahascragh that a team was organised, though men like Charlie Lynch and Michael Mac Aogαin (Egan) had introduced hurling in the Fair Green in the early thirties. With the arrival of Inky Flaherty, the step up to Senior grade was taken in 1940.

The team was drawn, mostly, from the staff of St. Brigid's Hospital (which explains the official Club name), and when Tommy Larkin, Harry Burke, Patsy Lynch, Owen Kearns, the Creavens, Staff Ruane and Paddy Manton joined, success was only a matter of time. A total of eight East titles in twelve years, with a three-in-a-row in 1945, '46 and '47, signalled that county honours could not be long delayed. The defeat of county champions, Ardrahan, by 4–3 to 3–5 in 1950 in a game rated as one of the greatest in Galway championships, made Ballinasloe hopeful of winning out. Objections and appeals lodged after this game prevented Ballinasloe from playing their next game vs. Castlegar for over three months. Inky Flaherty was convinced that they would have won had it not been for this delay and he blamed overtraining for their defeat.

Undaunted and even more determined, in 1951 they had an easy win over Tynagh by 6–4 to 2–2 in their first game. Tom Boyle had now joined the team from Roscommon, and in the semi-final, Ballinasloe again faced reigning champions, Castlegar, and again were victorious by 4– 9 to 2–10, with the scores coming from Sweeney and Burke, two goals each and the points from Larkin (7) and Flaherty (2). The final was played on home ground for Ballinasloe, where they beat Loughrea by 4–7 to 2–5 in a game described as "fast and entertaining". Tommy Larkin, who was most accurate off frees and who himself had 1–3 that day, felt that the vital score came in fact off a free which he took rather badly but which was grabbed by Sweeney and belted to the net. Two goals scored by Inkey off no less a back than Paddy Brogan in the last five minutes sealed the issue and brought their first and only senior title to Ballinasloe. (Click here for a photo of the 1951 team).

With Joe Sammon assisting them in 1952 it seemed that they were set to retain the title, but in a replay, Castlegar had sweet revenge for their defeat of a year earlier, winning by 4–11 to 4–6 win over Carrickshock in the Birr tournament and with home advantage Ballinasloe looked forward to the July 12th, the county final date. Then an injury to Mickey Burke forced Cashel to seek a postponement. Reluctant at first, Ballinasloe agreed to wait a week. The wait may have cost them a title as Cashel won by 3–2 to 1–5 but it established most cordial relations between the clubs, a relation that has been maintained to the present. A now familiar pattern for Ballinasloe was repeated, for in 1954 they were once more in the final, and once more they lost to Liam Mellows by 5–4 to 2–2.

Some compensation came their way in the Kenny Cup of 1955 with a 2–7 to 0–12 win over Castlegar. Meanwhile a good minor team was taking shape in the Club. Indeed 1955 was significant for them as they made it a double by winning the Minor Football as well, a distinction they share only with St. Augustine’s (Galway City) in 1961. (Click here for a photo of the 1955 Minor team).

Ballinasloe reached the County Final of 1964 which was the Sunday after Galway won the All-Ireland football title. Cyril Dunne and Sean Meade were members of that team. Ballinasloe were 2–1 to no score after ten minutes but were beaten in the end by six points by a very good Turloughmore team that won the County Championship six years in a row. Other members of the team included, P. J. Lawless, Brian Kelly, Patsy Lunch, Tom Purcell, Paddy Burns, and Pat Lally. (Click here for a photo of the 1964 team photo).

Ballinasloe hit a lean spell in the late 70s and dropped down to junior level. In 1985 the club started its revival by winning the Junior A Championship backboned with a team comprising of the Minton brothers, Michael & Kevin, in the half back line and the midfield partnership of the famous 1980 Garbally team, Stephen (Staff) Ruane and Ger Connolly. This team, under the coaching of John Molloy beat a very fancied Mattie Kenney led Abbey-Duniry in the final by 2–13 to 0–11. Seamus Shinnors gave a man of the match performance scoring 1–6 on the day. 1985 also started the revival of under age hurling in the town with the Under-16 team winning the Under-16 County Championship and then going on to take the Connacht title by beating Athleague in the final under the management of Fr. John Naughton. (Click here for the 1985 Under-16 team photo)

Over the next decade Ballinasloe gave great performances at intermediate level reaching the quarter-final and semi-final stages of the championship but unfortunately were unable to bridge the gap to senior level.

At underage the club has won several more championships (Minor Championship in 2000 and Under-21 Championship in 1994 and 2000) and with the strength of the underage development and coaching carried out within the club, it should not be long before Ballinasloe will be emulating their team of 50 years ago by winning its second Senior Hurling Championship.

See also: Ballinasloe Hurling Club photo gallery on this site.

Source: This was originally posted on the Ballinasloe Hurling Club website. This page is now defunct but is archived on the Internet Archive would like to hear from the author of the history in order to attribute it to him or her.


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