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Cup winning team back together after 50 years – as last link is located!

It was remarkable enough that 14 of the original line-out to win a Connacht Schools Senior Cup over half a century ago were able to get back together for a reunion – but even more remarkable when the final part of the jigsaw came back from the dead!

Because a year on from their first reunion, the Garbally College XV that won that senior cup in March 1971 gathered again last week – having found that their one missing link wasn’t dead after all.

The old friends enjoyed a reunion of the 14 players who were still alive in March 2023 – the exception being Michael Byrne, one of the second rows on the team originally from Dunmore, who reportedly had died in an accident shortly after leaving Garbally.

But when photos of the re-union were published in the Connacht Tribune, Tony Hamilton from Leenaun – who was the same year as most of the team in 1972 – contacted this newspaper to indicate that he had seen Michael Byrne while on holidays in Ireland some years back.

And further investigations followed…to find that Michael Byrne was in fact alive and well and living in France.

Shortly after that first reunion, in April 2023, Michael was traced to his residence in the Pyrenees in France; he learned of the re union – and was amused to hear of his demise!

But to prove the rumours had been exaggerated, he said he would love to attend a full re-union if that could be organised in 2024.


Back together… Garbally College’s 1971 Connacht Senior Cup winners at their reunion (back – from left) Bart Doherty, Hugh Walshe, Michael Byrnes, John Murray, Liam Kenny, PJ Kindregan, Niall Hogan, Andy Fenton, with (front) Derry Fitzgerald, Vincent Cleary, Iggy Clarke, Pat Ridge, Rev. John Kirby (Manager), Sean Clarke, Johnny Farrell, Paul  Riddell. Pic: Gerry Stronge

Get the full story with more photos in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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