Galway captain Andy Smith with team-mates Colm and Jason Flynn. Ray McManus/SPORTSFILE

'We need to do that again' - Fenway Hurling Classic hailed as great success

Galway won the AIG Fenway Hurling Classic last night.

GALWAY CELEBRATED LIKE they’d won the All-Ireland after they beat Dublin in Sunday’s AIG Fenway Hurling Classic in Boston.

The Tribesmen won on a 50-47 scoreline in Boston and afterwards they couldn’t hide their emotions.

“When Jason Flynn scored that last penalty I was in the backs looking down into the main stand in Fenway and to see the eruption of people would remind you of the first Sunday in September,” said Galway’s Aidan Harte.

“It was unbelievable and I’ll never forget it and it’s a memory I’ll cherish. You could see what it meant to us and if you thought the jumping around afterwards was for show, it wasn’t. It meant an awful lot to us to win that game.

“Any days you put on a Galway jersey and play a game it means a lot. We were brought out here on Friday morning and we really prepared for it.

“We said it in the dressing room before hand that we weren’t out here to take part in an exhibition match, we were here to win.”

Part of the post-match release could be put down to the pressure Galway were under following the players’ decision to oust Anthony Cunningham as manager.

“What happened at home has happened,” said Harte following the eleven a-side game at Fenway Park, one of America’s great cathedrals of sport.

“You could see what it meant to the fans and it meant twice as much to us.”

Boston Red Sox President Sam Kennedy was one of the 27,000-plus crowd at Fenway and he was bowled over by what he saw at the AIG sponsored event.

Dublin v Galway - AIG Fenway Hurling Classic Galway's John Hanbury leads the celebrations at the final whistle. Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE / SPORTSFILE

“I am so incredibly grateful to everyone who pulled together to stage what was a spectacular event,” said the head of one of the US’s most successful and popular sporting franchises.

“It’s so easy to say no to new and different things, but Boston once again proved why it is the best city in America – the passion and intensity was off the charts.

“We need to do that again – and soon.”

Dublin were clearly deflated to have lost having led by seven points at one stage in the third quarter.

But overall they were just delighted to have been asked to take part in the game, which the GAA and GPA see as a key promotional tool for hurling abroad.

“We’ve heard all the stories about Fenway going all the way back to de Valera and Babe Ruth,” said the Dubs’ Johnny McCaffrey, referencing Eamon de Valera’s 1919 fund-raising tour of Boston and the Red Sox’s most famous player.

“It’s historic and we were thrilled to be part of it. We’re really gutted to have lost the game, but seeing Fenway Park and the set-up was great. Conor Dooley had an x-ray straight away after his injury. Where would you get that?”

Dublin boss Ger Cunningham added: “Overall reaction is one of immense pride to have been asked to play in this exhibition.

“The atmosphere from the crowd and their involvement was brilliant, they really got into he game and the dressing room, for an exhibition game, was very disappointed.

“We wanted to win it and we’re disappointed with didn’t, but the overall feeling is one of pride for having been involved. Here we are at the end of November playing a game of hurling in Fenway Park; brilliant.”

Dublin v Galway - AIG Fenway Hurling Classic Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE / SPORTSFILE

The second quarter of the weekend game was livened up by a major bust-up which was referred to the Television Match Official, former Cork boss Donal O’Grady, and resulted in referee Alan Kelly sending three players to the sin bin.

Both sides played down the incident and praised the way it was handled.

“Handbags,” said McCaffrey. “There was a bit of a late pull and these things happen. We weren’t going to give an inch or walk away, but but there was no serious injury and that was all.

“The referee handled it well, he got in straight away, went to the TMO and took his time with the decision. It wasn’t easy for him because it’s a new game to him, but he handled it well.”

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