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  • Sport

Connemara, Clonfert and Dunmore links to the Dublin hurling team

Wednesday, 6th July, 2011 10:33am


THE SPECTACULAR rise of Dublin hurling, despite their Leinster Championship Final defeat by mighty Kilkenny last Sunday, has particular resonance for Galway. Anthony Daly's Dubs had lowered the Maroon and White colours with a resounding victory, 0-19 to 2-7

, in the Leinster semi-final at O'Connor Park, Tullamore on the evening of June 18th and it was fascinating to discover that Galway-born corner-back Niall Corcoran, originally from the Meelick-Eyrecourt club, is not our only link with the Dublin hurling team. [private]


I had known for many years that the versatile Conal Keaney, brilliant hurler and footballer with Dublin and his club Ballyboden St Enda's, was the son of a Co. Galway man, but I did not know until recently that the equally talented senior and U-21 hurling star Liam Rushe has a North Galway background.

First Conal Keaney: I met him at Parnell Park early in his Dublin hurling career and was later told by a friend of his family that his father was Sylvester Keaney, a Dublin-based Garda who was from Connemara. I then heard that Sylvester was a footballer in his younger days, a member of the club we now know as Cárna-Caiseal, and that in his school days at Scoil Phobail Mhic Dara, Cárna in the mid-1960s he represented Galway in the inter-county Vocational Schools' Senior Football Championship, playing at midfield alongside a young man who would go on to legendary status as a hurler with Castlegar and Galway, John Connolly, then a student at Moneenageisha V.S.

Niall Corcoran, from historic Clonfert, won an All-Ireland Minor Hurling Championship medal with Galway in the millennium year, 2000, playing at left full-back beside No. 3 Tony Óg Regan and Niall then represented his native county twice at U-21 level but wasn't retained in a Galway senior panel and several years later he opted for Dublin where he works full-time as Games Promotion Officer with the Kilmacud Crokes club. Niall's heart is still in Galway, though; in a recent website profile and interview he chose as his favourite players / heroes two great Galway men: Ollie Canning and the legendary 1980s left half-back Gerry McInerney.


NOW to Liam Rushe, Man of the Match against Galway last month. Paddy Coleman from Dunmore, one of the most knowledgeable GAA men I've ever known, tells me Liam's father Jim Rushe was born in Castle Street, Dunmore; his grandfather Desmond and great-grandfather Jim ("Swift") Rushe had lived there too. The latter Jim Rushe was born out the road in Quinaltagh, the little village that produced the famous J. J. Nestor, who is commemorated in the naming of the Connacht Senior Football Championship Cup.

J. J. Nestor was the great-grandfather of a well-known Dublin football goalkeeper, David Nestor of Kilmacud Crokes, who starred against Corofin in an All-Ireland Club Championship semi-final in Mullingar a few years ago. David's father Pat was born in Bridge Street, Dunmore. David's grandfather Frank was a brother of the great Galway forward of the 1930s, Brendan Nestor. Sadly, Frank died a young man in the early 1950s; his wife Nora (née Finnegan) lives in Galway, hale and hearty at 95 years of age.

Frank Fox, after whom the Galway S.F.C. Cup is named, was born in Sion Hill, Dunmore, beside the Mahon family home. Frank, sadly, died a young man; he was by all accounts a great footballer and athlete, and was on the Galway All-Ireland winning team of 1934, along with his clubmate Brendan Nestor.

A powerful midfielder for Dunmore MacHales in the 1940s, Tompsie Nestor was a nephew of J. J. and brother of MacHales club officers James and Ambrose; their sister Mary Agnes, who went to her eternal reward four years ago, married Paddy Coleman. Interestingly too, Tompsie Nestor was grandfather of the victorious Killererin captain last year, Declan Kelly, who had the honour of receiving the Frank Fox Cup.

It wasn't from the wind they all took their Gaelic football talent and love of sport.

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