Innocent days when we felt we’d always be beating Kerry

Johnny Geraghty ushered in a new era in terms of goalkeeping in the GAA with his agility and spectacular dives a feature of the three-in-row era.
Johnny Geraghty ushered in a new era in terms of goalkeeping in the GAA with his agility and spectacular dives a feature of the three-in-row era.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

There was a time, believe it or not, when Galway would normally beat Kerry in the All-Ireland championship but alas it’s from a bygone era, that for me evokes, childhood memories of times when my first sighting of a maroon jersey was in glorious black and white.

Galway’s emergence as a football power through the early and mid-1960s largely coincided with the start-up of the national television service in 1961, and what a revolution it set off in terms of being able to watch your sporting idols on what tended to be hugely moody, sometimes unreliable and always ugly looking Bush, Pye or Philips black and white TV sets.

The innate difficulty though, through the mid-60s, when as national school kids we all believed that Galway would win the All-Ireland every year, was in getting access to a house that had a television set, but where there’s a will there’s a way, and by the Summer of 1963, most of us in the area knew of ‘safe houses’ where we’d get in and be welcomed for the matches.

Before Galway’s three glory years of 1964, ’65 and ’66, there was a bit of trauma to be endured in the run-up to the three-in-a-row. Galway had gone on a good championship run in 1963, and my first memory of the black-and-white TV days, was of one ‘Pateen’ Donnellan punching the ball to the Kerry net in the All-Ireland semi-final of that year.

On a late September Sunday we had crowded into the house of a somewhat reclusive but welcoming bachelor in full expectation that Galway would surely beat the Dubs in the final. Our host though, given his somewhat shy nature, must have been slightly traumatised on that Sunday afternoon as humans of all ages sat on chairs, bits of stools and the floor. Nothing mattered though only to see the match and as long as the television held out and Galway won, we’d all be happy.

That day, only two out of three wishes worked out. We saw the match okay and the television did hold out but Galway were denied victory by a goal from Gerry Davey, and during the following week, I listened intently to conversations between my father and neighbours as to how Galway had been ‘robbed’. (Does anything ever really change?).

The kernel of their complaint was that Gerry Davey was in the Galway square when he fisted the ball to the net and there was talk of the Wicklow referee – a man by the name of Eamon Moules – having ‘connections’ with the big Dublin full forward John Timmons. And as young lads we cursed those rotters who had denied us an All-Ireland title back in the Autumn of ’63.

There was very little television to be viewed over the Winter as the long trip back to the ‘television house’ during the dark nights would be strictly out of bounds for any six or seven-year-old.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.