Joe Connolly All-Ireland Legends Tour

  • 8th September 2012
  • 12.00
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On the eve of the 2012 GAA Hurling All-Ireland Championship Final between Galway and Kilkenny, join Galway hurling legend Joe Connolly on a unique guided tour of Croke Park Stadium.

Joe Connolly captained Galway to the All-Ireland hurling title in 1980, a year that will forever be synonymous with Galway hurling.  He played hurling with his local club Castlegar and was a member of the Galway senior inter-county team from 1976 until 1984.  After being on the losing side against Kilkenny in the 1979 All-Ireland Final, Connolly was appointed captain of the team the following year.  Galway once again reached the championship decider, with Limerick providing the opposition.  It was to be Galway’s day and the county’s first All-Ireland title since 1923.  The celebrations surpassed anything ever seen in Croke Park. It took Connolly ten minutes to reach the rostrum in the Hogan Stand to collect the Liam MacCarthy Cup.  Oncer there, he delivered one of the most famous acceptance speeches of all-time.

Delivered through his native Irish, Connolly was clearly overcome with emotion.

 "People of Galway, after fifty-seven years the All-Ireland title is back in Galway...It’s wonderful to be from Galway on a day like today. There are people back in Galway with wonder in their hearts, but also we must remember (Galway) people in England, in America, and round the world and maybe they are crying at this moment…People of Galway, we love you!"

The final phrase is an echo of Pope John Paul II’s address to the young people of Ireland the previous year. The celebrations didn’t just end with Connolly’s speech as Joe McDonagh seized the microphone and lead the crown in a version of the West’s Awake. Connolly rounded of the year by collecting a coveted All-Star award, as well as being named as the Texaco Hurler of the Year.
 

Although Galway again reached the All-Ireland final in 1981, they were defeated by Offaly and the following few years proved difficult as Galway were knocked out of the championship at the All-Ireland semi-final stages in 1982 and 1983. Connolly retired from inter-county hurling following a serious knee injury in 1984.

As well as his All-Ireland title in 1980, Connolly enjoyed All-Ireland club success with Castlegar the same year.  Also in 1980, he captained Connacht to a Railway Cup title and won a second interprovincial medal in 1982.  

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