The Early Years.
Football in some shape or form was played in the parish of Abbeyknockmoy and Monivea probably from the turn of the century but one of the earliest indications of a settled teams comes from pre-troubles era of 1919 with a side captained by Pat Tully from Cooloo, Moylough. As far as can be established that 1919 team was as follows: Willie King (Feagh); Tom Rabbitte (Abbey Road), Thomas Mulry (Feagh), Johnny Burke(Feagh); Peter Forde (Old Road), James Daly (Derreen), Stephen Moran (Feagh); Paddy Fahy (Derreen), Pat Tully (Cooloo) capt.; Peter Warren (Chapel Road), ‘Power’ Warren (Chapel Road), Patrick McWalter (Liss), Bernie Potter (Abbey Road), Patrick Potter (Abbey Road), Patrick Nolan (The Mill).
Back in 1985 the late Tommy Mullin from Feagh — reputedly one of the finest players of his era — recalled how the ‘troubles’ had ended that team’s involvement in the sport and it wasn’t until about 1927 that some reorganisation took place. The resurrection of the club in the mid 1920s involved a lot of hard work from the late Bartley Synnott (the local publican known affectionately as ‘Big Bartley’, who was also quite an able boxer). He had just returned to Abbey after a spell in the capital with the Dublin Metropolitan Police. Others involved in that new committee were Patrick Nolan (chairman), Paddy O’Donohoe (local publican and father of Sean), while a John O’Donohoe (a first cousin of Paddy’s) was elected as secretary. Apparently Abbey were defeated in the 1927 junior championship by Cortoon but one of their major ‘near things’ occurred in 1932 in a gold medal tournament reputedly sponsored by a ‘Yank from Kilconnell’ involving Abbey, Kilconnell, Corofin, Ahascragh and Ballinasloe.
This was a chance for Abbey to rub shoulders with some of the ‘big boys’ of the Galway club scene and on their way to the final they had impressive victories over Ahascragh and Kilconnell to set up a final meeting with Corofin played at Lally’s Field, Abbey Road (close to Nicholson’s House). Abbey had the disadvantage of having already played the semi-final that day (Corofin got a bye into the final) but fortified by a number of imports of senior players like Tommy Hughes, Martin Mannion, Bill Birrell and Paddy Hannon they really put it up to Corofin and going into the closing minutes led by two points. Alas misfortune struck when a Corofin shot ricocheted off Frank Collins and flew between the posts for the goal which gave the Corofin lads victory. Tommy Mullin recalled that Corofin players came up to them after the game and said that they had the makings of a great side — indeed some of them were asked to play with Corofin and Tuam but to their credit they remained loyal to Abbey. However there were observers of the game at the time who reckoned that a move to a bigger club could have given some of the Abbey players a good chance of making the county side.
The first 1927 side after the rejuvenation of the club was: Eddie Ryder (Clogherboy); Frank Collins (Feagh), Bartley Synnott (Abbey Road), Michael Flaherty (Ballina), John Flaherty (Abbert), Patrick Moran (Abbey Road), Darby Coady (Cloonavadogue), Josie Curran (Garragh), Tommy Mullin (Feagh), Denis Farragher (Abbey Road), Bernie Fahy (Abbey Road), Michael O’Donnell (Feagh), Tommy Moran (Abbey Road), Tom Sullivan (Barna), Peter Quinn (Brierfield), Patrick Williams (Feagh).
Again in 1935, Abbeyknockmoy actually competed in the senior championship where they were beaten in Corofin by the home side in a match remembered for a massive thunderstorm which occurred just before half-time. The team that lined out that day was: E. Ryder; M. Flaherty, T. Mullin, F. Collins; J. Flaherty, P. Quinn, P. Moran; J. Curran, B. Synnott; D. Farragher, B. Mullin, M. O’Donnell; M. Mullin, T. Curran, P. Williams.
A common mode of transport in those days for the team was one of Paddy Farrell’s ‘mill lorries’ with a charge of a shilling or two to cover the cost.
The hungry 40s and 50s.
Tommy Mullin played his last match for Abbey in 1943 in one of the great traditions of that era — a match against the clerical students of Moyne Park. Over the years there were many big ‘challenges’ between the students and the local team.
There is anecdotal evidence that when the club was reformed in the 1920s the local PP banned local dances as a means of fund raising forcing the club to move outside the parish for the functions. However, from handed-down stories and indeed the absence of records it seems as if the period from the 1940s through to the 1960s was a very slack period in terms of the organisation of Gaelic football in the parish and there was an apparent appeal from the altar
during this period for some of the locals to stop leaning off the walls and to instead channel their energies towards helping the local football team.
There was no unity — at different stages there were teams in Brierfield, Monivea, Crumlin and Abbey — with some local people recalling that rivalry within the parish was more intense than against outside clubs. Still though the seed of interest was retained. Two of the main men who kept the game in Abbey and Monivea during the post war-50s period were the late Jimmy
Cleary, Abbey Road, who revived a football team in Abbeyknockmoy and the late John Joe Cooke, Monivea, a man who put his heart and soul into football — and a man also with the vision and personality to unite people.
According to Michael O’Donohoe’s historical summary of Gaelic games in the parish in the Abbeyknockmoy book ‘A Year to Remember’ the following team lined out for Monivea at some stage, probably in the late 1940s. Monivea team: John Joe Cooke, Mattie Dolan, Jack McGrath, Mick McGrath, Pakie Moran, M. J. Concarr, John Smith, Seamus King, John Joe Cooke (Pat), Paddy Conaty, Josie Martin, Jim Cooke, John Murphy, Mattie Fahy, Bill Loughnane.
Back in the late 1940s, Brierfield were also organised with Tom Ryan and Jack Cunniffe setting up minor football and hurling teams. Tom Ryan had played minor football in 1946 with the likes of Sean Purcell, Frank Stockwell and Jack Mangan. Paddy Hoare also played minor football for Galway in 1947 and 1948 winning a Connacht championship medal in 1948. Some other Brierfield players of the time were: Paddy Cunniffe, Martin Cunniffe, Mick Geraghty, Mickey Hoare, Bob Dolan, Mattie Walsh, Ted Scarry and Jack Ryan.
Apparently Abbey junior footballers did reasonably well in 1948 being beaten by the eventual county champions Athenry. That Abbey panel of players was as follows: Pake Roarke, Mattie Walsh, Jimmy Murphy, Mick Cleary, Jimmy Blake, Mickey Collins, Mick Blake, Bill Cunumm (Cunningham), Willie Fahy, Bill Loughlin, Tom Ryan, Jimmy Cleary, Bro. Adrian Sweeney, Gerry Burke, Johnny Collins, Mick O’Donnell, Jarlath Fahy, Dick Fahy, Tom Finn, Frank Burke, Padraig Woods, Bob Loughlin, Pete Burke, Jimmy Duffy, Paddy Langan.
With the passing of time and the revival of Galway’s football fortunes with the three-in-row success of the sixties the interest in football began to revive. The St. Finbarr’s (Athenry and Monivea-Abbey combined) victory over Killererin in 1970 was sign of things to come but in the early part of the decade the different sides of the parish came together and the seeds were sown for the club as it is now known in its present shape and form.
The breakthrough decade.
Leaving nostalgia and sentiment aside the year Monivea-Abbey made their first major breakthrough was in 1975 when they won the junior title beating Clonbur in the December 14th final at Pearse Stadium by 3-4 to 0-8, a victory which gave the club senior status for the first time. Men like the late John Joe Cooke, Tommy Williams, Bobby Mullins, Jarlath Coleman and Willie Potter were putting in a big effort to mention but a few with Jarlath Coleman particularly hot on getting things properly organised.
There was a junior championship victory over Caherlistrane in 1974 but just when things seemed to be coming around the next round of the championship was fixed for Tuam Stadium in the mid-summer of that year. Unfortunately the match clashed almost directly with the World Cup soccer final of that year (West Germany beat Holland 2-1) and with a big interest in soccer in
Abbey at the time, some of the squad didn’t turn up for the Headford. The outcome was a depleted team but, despite a reasonably good display, Headford won the match - it seemed as if
the days of hit-and-miss were back again. In an article in the Tuam Herald prior to the 1985 county final Jarlath Coleman recalled that day: “It is still a nightmare to think about. The Football Board fixed the game to clash directly with the World Cup final in Munich. “There was always a great interest in soccer in our area and when the day dawned half our team stayed at home and watched the World Cup instead. We scraped together the bare 15 but there was no hope of winning.”
At the subsequent AGM in the old Abbey Hall Jarlath Coleman made an impassion speech about the revival of football and spirit in the club — he was elected captain of the team with Martin Cunniffe appointed as manager and Willie Potter as selector.The rest as the saying goes was history. Monivea, as they were known at the time, powered their way to the junior series (at the time there was no intermediate, junior was the next status to senior) with victories over Kilkerrin-Clonberne, St. Brendan’s, Caltra, Ballinderreen (in Carnmore with former GAA President Joe McDonagh having a star match) and against Clonbur in the county final at Pearse Stadium.
The ‘75 county final was reckoned to be one of the highest quality deciders for many years with Clonbur having names like Stephen Kinneavey, Barry Sullivan, Stephen Joyce and John Joe Holleran among their ranks. Monivea goals though from Martin Crowe, Stephen Ruane and Frank Mulry proved decisive — Monivea had arrived on the Galway club football scene.
The report on the match in the Connacht Tribune edition of December 19th, by one John Cunningham (current editor of the paper) contained the following passage: of making a big impression in the senior grade with a very impressive display over a Cortoon team which rarely looked capable of unsettling their opponents winning form. Although playing against a stiff breeze in the first half, Monivea got a grip right from the start and goals by Tommy Treacy and Stephen Ruane helped them into a 2-0 to 0-4 interval lead. But Cortoon will be regretting the two penalty chances they missed in that half, the first of which was sent wide and the second saved by Monivea ‘keeper Frank Farragher. With the wind at their backs in the second half Monivea turned in a display of powerful football with Bernie Coleman and Michael Mullins in top form at midfield, laying on a plentiful supply of ball to the forwards who chalked up another 2-7 to put
the issue beyond doubt.
“Monivea on Sunday last at Pearse Stadium not alone won their first ever county title at any level but with no little help from Clonbur, helped to rehabilitate the name of junior football. But the North Board side on Sunday — nine of them are under-21 — played such fabulous football for 50 of the 60 minutes that in the years to come they must make every senior team in
the county fear them . . .
“For those who missed the game, were missing one of the best club encounters in years and I say that as one who has been bored to distraction at many of them and one who had all the established prejudices against junior football. Monivea, who only started playing together about two years ago, brought off some of the best attacking moves I have seen outside of county football at its best and played with a total commitment which had some of the spectators wincing.”
The Monivea team on that days was: Frank Farragher; Gabriel Divilly, Arthur Donoghue, Tom Devaney; Tom Divilly, Jarlath Coleman, John Flaherty; Bernie Coleman, Michael Mullins; Tommy Treacy, Bill Mullins, Stephen Ruane; Frank Mulry, Martin Crowe, Gerry Flaherty.
Monivea, after earning senior status in December 1975, played their first ever senior match in ‘The Wood’ Monivea on Sunday, March 28th, 1976. The following is the match report which appeared in The Herald of the following week written by Michael Lyster.
"Monivea crush Cortoon"
Monivea 4-7 Cortoon 1-5
Monivea made history on Sunday when they won their first competitive senior football game by beating Cortoon in the county league in what was also the first ever senior game to be played in Monivea. Last year’s junior champions proved a side capable
Tom Flaherty was always reliable at full back for the winners and he got good support from Tom Divilly, Jarlath Coleman and John Flaherty while best of the forwards were Stephen Ruane, Liam Mullins and Tommy Treacy. Monivea-Abbey scorers: L. Mullins 1-2, T. Treacy 1-1, S. Ruane 1-1, G. Flaherty 1-0, J. Coleman, M. Crowe and M. Mullins 0-1 each.
The later years
1985 was a big year for the club when for the first time in our history we reached the county senior final against Annaghdown, drawing with them the first day at 0-6 each before eventually going down 1-8 to 1-6 in the replay.
Like so many others it was probably the one that got away with Monivea-Abbey having a lot of chances in the drawn match to win — the second day out we went 1-7 to 0-0 behind but still came within a whisker of winning, only being beaten on a 1-8 to 1-6 scoreline. Between both games Mattie Coleman was ruled out through injury — a major blow for the replay. The Monivea-Abbey team which drew with Annaghdown was: Francis Farragher; Padraic Killarney, Gabriel Divilly, Seamus Cooke; Pat Potter, Martin King, Gerry Daly; Michael Collins, Mattie Coleman; Declan Kelly, Paddy Mannion, Tommy Devane; Matt Ruane, Michael Mullins, Tom Lane. Subs.: John Burke and Tommy Treacy. Replay Team: Francis Farragher; Padraic Killarney, Gabriel Divilly, Seamus Cooke; Gerry Daly, Martin King, Pat Potter; Michael Collins, Paddy Mannion; Matt Ruane, Liam Mullins, Declan Kelly; Tommy Devane, Tom Divilly, Tom Lane. Subs.: Michael Mullins and John Burke.
It wasn’t all doom and gloom however in 1985 with Francis Roche’s junior A side took the county title, defeating Spiddal in the final to round off what had been a very busy year for the club. Junior A team: Seamus McWalter; Tommy Coleman, Jody Flaherty, Nicky Daly; Tom Keane, David Blake, Padraic King; Kevin Flaherty, Malachy Mannion; Francis Roche, Liam Mullins, Gerry Flaherty; Ger Warren, Johnny Blade, Christy Mannion.Subs.: Barney Costello, Sean Joyce, Michael Keane, John Dunne.
Fourteen years after winning senior status, Monivea-Abbey first success in the premier grade came in early 1989 when they defeated Corofin in the 1988 county league final at Tuam Stadium after a great game. Once again Tommy Devane proved to be Monivea-Abbey’s scoring ace, notching 1-7 out of Monivea-Abbey’s 1-9 total. Final Score: Monivea-Abbey 1-9 - Corofin 2-5. Monivea-Abbey: Gerry Moore; Padraic King, Martin King, Pat Potter; Gerry Daly, John Burke, Denis Lally; Michael Collins, Francis McWalter; Francis Roche, Tommy Devane, Tomas Mannion; Gerry Warren, Paddy Mannion, Mattie Coleman. Sub.: Sean Joyce.
Monivea-Abbey made an explosive start to their 1992 championship campaign in Dunmore when inspired by a cracker of an early goal from Gerry Warren they went on to pull off a shock victory over a fancied Corofin side.Under the stewardship of Francis Roche, Donal McCormack, Donal Kelly and Joe Burke (trainer), Monivea-Abbey had to come from behind before eventually disposing of St. Brendan’s in the second round at Tuam Stadium which set up a
county semi-final tie against old rivals Killererin. In a dour clash at Athenry, Monivea-Abbey looked to be headed for defeat until rescued by a late-late Tommy Devane point which set up a replay in Tuam Stadium. That was another tight and tough contest before Frank Roche’s side made it through (0-6 to 0-4) to a county final showdown against Tuam Stars on September 27th,
Tuam came into the match as hot favourites but a highly motivated Monivea-Abbey side set the tone for the match with two first half Richard McNicholas goals — the Stars never recovered and Gerry Daly went on as captain to receive the Frank Fox trophy from Football Board Chairman Pat Egan.
His opening words to the crowd that Sunday evening was that ‘the famine is over’ in a moment which captured the progress of the club from its early years through decades of frustration before the good work started over 20 years previously paid dividend. Monivea-Abbey team v. Tuam Stars. 1992 County Final: Gerry Moore; Gary Blake, Martin King, Denis Lally; Gerry Daly, Francis McWalter, Mattie Coleman; Paddy Mannion, Gerry Warren; Tommy Devane, Peter Maher, Kenneth Curley; Tomas Mannion, Padraic King, Richard McNicholas.Subs., Michael Collins, Brian Mulry.