The Galway County Boards which are part of the Gaelic Athletic Association, also more commonly referred to as the GAA, or the Galway GAA, is one of the 32 total GAA county boards that are in Ireland. They are solely responsible for all of the Gaelic games that happen in County Galway, as well as for the Galway inter-county teams too.
Being one of the very few ‘dual counties’ in all of Ireland, Galway competes in both Gaelic football, as well as hurling at a very similar level. What makes this particular situation very unusual, is that both of these two sports are actually run and managed by different county boards within Galway. While this may not necessarily be that big of a deal, it is however, very unusual, even for a dual country.
Galway GAA Governance
The Galway GAA has its jurisdiction over what is considered to be the more traditional county of Galway. They form one part of the entire provincial branch, Connacht GAA. Unlike some of the other countries within Ireland, the Gaelic games that take place in Galway were both run by two different county boards. You have Gaelic football, which is organized by the actual Galway football board, and then hurling, which is organized by the separate Galway hurling board. It is this particular separation that has resulted in each team having their very own county crest, as well as two different types of county jerseys, and even two different sponsors, one for each of the teams.
Now in theory, both of the boards would be overseen by one County Board, but they were autonomous when it came to terms of finance and even how the officers would come to be elected. Since they were essentially at a stalemate, in the year 2013, the boards would eventually be replaced by both a hurling and a football committee, with all of the officers of the respective committees no longer needing to be elected, but they would actually be appointed by the then County Board, which has since turned into the County Committee. The financial control would also be centralized, and everything else (which included the teams jerseys, crests, and even the sponsorships) would be amalgamated.
These two new committees in Galway would be required to takeover, for each of their respective codes, all of the organizing of the annual county club championship responsibility in both hurling and football for all the clubs that played in Galway. When it came to hurling, the new Hurling Committee would also take up organizing the Minors, u21, and even the Junior competitions. In football however, these different grades would primarily be organized by different regional committees, those committees being the North GPC and the West GPC. Any of the intercounty adult teams would than fall under the County Committee’s jurisdiction. As for the younger, underage club competitions (which would be considered u16 or younger), they would be organized depending upon their code, but would be organized by a separate committee, those committees being either Coiste Iomana na nOg or Coiste Peil na nOg. Any underage development teams or activities that included children aged under 11, would be under the auspices of a different committee, the Coaching and Games Committee.
Their Crest and Colors
The traditional colors of Galway include both white and maroon. In the earlier part of the GAA competitions, all of the Galway teams would wear the colors that belonged to the county champions in each of the sports. During 1936 though, the county would adopt the color of maroon to be its primary color. A crest would later be added to the jersey during the 1950s, each of the different sports having its very own, unique crest design. While both teams are more than likely going to be wearing white shorts with maroon socks, they have also worn kits that have been completely maroon in the past.
Until more recently, 2013 to be exact both the hurling and football boards of Galway would use their very own separate crests for all of their teams. Galway’s football crest would be a depiction of a Galway hooker, one of the more traditional fishing boats of Galway, and then a Gaelic football that would contain the motto of the county, ‘Ceart agus Coir’. The hurling crest on the other hand, would be based off of the coat of arms for Galway city, which would always be shown on the left side and contain Galway county’s original Irish name, Gaillimh, along with the initials CLG, which would be written right beneath it. CLG is short for Cumann Lutchleas Gael, which is also the Irish name of the GAA.
In 2013, both of the teams started to use the same crest and jerseys, ahead of the Football and Hurling National Leagues for that particular year. This new and improved crest was essentially the hurling crest, the most notable changes being that the angle of the traditional fishing boat was different, and the letters CLG were replaced with the letters GAA.
The very first sponsorship for any Galway team came in the form of Tommy Varden’s Catering service. This would be during the mid to later part of the 1980s, when sponsorship was not as open and accepted within the GAA at that particular point in time. It wasn’t until a couple years later in 1991, when regulations surrounding any type of sponsorship would begin to be eased. After Tommy Varden sponsored all of the footballers, it would then be followed by Supermac’s fast food chain who would offer to sponsor the hurlers in 1989, the first time that this would happen. In 2008, Tommy Varden would decide to end his 25-year partnership that he had with the Galway football organization, being quickly replaced as the main sponsor by Aer Arann. After they had officially entered into receivership though, Aer Arann would be forced to pull out of his sponsorship a couple years early, after having sponsored the team for the 2008 through 2010 seasons. Later in 2011, it would be announced that Cancer Care West would step up and sponsor the organization. What was significant about this particular sponsorship, is that it would be the very first time that any GAA team was displaying the name of a particular charity on their jerseys, as opposed to another corporate sponsor.
Beginning during the 2013 season and with a pre-planned five-year sponsorship agreement, both the football team and the hurling team are sponsored by the very same sponsor. Previously only being the sponsor of the hurlers, Supermac’s is now currently the main sponsor of both the hurlers and the footballers.
Gaelic Football Team Families
As with any sport in this day and age, you will have successive family members who follow in the previous generation’s footsteps. The very same is true when it comes to Gaelic football and its players. In fact, there are several different families that have seen successive members to play on Galway’s inter-county team. For example, Joe Duggan was a Galway footballer who played on teams that would lose three-in-a-row during the 1940s. His son, Jimmy Duggan, would also play on teams that would end up losing three finals matches within a four-year span between 1971 and 1974. Another great example is John ‘Tull’ Dunne, who won two Senior All-Irelands in the years of 1934 and 1938. Later, his son Cyril Dunne, would be part of the team that would win three-in-a-row from 1964 through 1966 Senior All-Irelands, which his father, John ‘Tull’ Dunne, would actually be managing. Michael Donnellan was a player who was on the 1925 team and hey won an All-Ireland on a technicality, that being that there was no All-Ireland back in 1925, and then again on the 1934 team who was able to win it without any doubts at all. His two sons, Pat Donnellan and John Donnellan were both on the three-in -a-row teams that played during the 1960s, and his grandson, Michael, would be the one to send the winning pass to Padraig Joyce, which would end up being for the breakthrough goal that would win the very first of two All-Irelands in the short span of four years, for that team in 1998.
When it comes to the Galway GAA, it has a very rich history that has been packed full of ups and downs. As with any organization, there is not necessarily a guidebook that tells you exactly how to get past the obstacles that may arise moving forwards. But with the hard work of the organization’s members and players, the GAA has been able to move past all of these obstacles, no matter what they have been. With a steady amount of interest in the organization and Gaelic football clubs, there is no knowing how far the organization can rise heading into the future. As long as the organization continues to take care of its footballers and its fans, they should have no problems continuing to expand and become more popular.