Feel Good Factor

Family celebrations, summer shocks, club glories - 2016 heartwarming GAA moments

Finian Hanley, Noel McGrath, Annie Walsh, Slaughtneil and the Westmeath U21′s all feature.

1. Finian Hanley with his daughter after the Connacht final

The Galway defender gets to savour a first provincial title win in eight years with his five-month-old daughter Freya.

James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

2. Waterford’s Pauric Mahony is comforted after the defeat to Kilkenny

The Deise sharpshooter struck 0-23 over the course of the All-Ireland semi-final saga with Kilkenny. But he was denied a late chance to level it as his free was caught over the bar by goalkeeper Eoin Murphy. Waterford lost by two points in Semple Stadium with a devastated Mahony comforted afterwards by Jennifer Malone. Mahony didn’t forget that, later sending Malone a jersey and a framed photo.

Mahony RTÉ The Saturday Game Live RTÉ The Saturday Game Live

3. The McGrath brothers celebrate glory with Tipperary

A year to remember for Noel, John and Brian McGrath from Loughmore-Castleiney. Noel and John won All-Ireland senior medals with Tipperary, Brian captained the minors to win the All-Ireland, John won an All-Star and all three won a county senior football title with their club.

John McGrath, Brian McGrath and Noel McGrath celebrate The McGrath brothers celebrate the Munster final victories Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

Brian McGrath, Noel and John McGrath The joyous September homecoming at Semple Stadium James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

4. Briege Corkery celebrates victory with her dog Hernandez

In August, Cork clinched a place in another All-Ireland camogie final with an extra-time win over Wexford. One of the core elements of their team is Briege Corkery and she celebrated afterwards at Semple Stadium with her dog.

Briege Corkery Cathal Noonan / INPHO Cathal Noonan / INPHO / INPHO

5. Leinster Championship and First Communion

Mark Timmons won a Leinster opener with Laois and his daughter Kathlyn celebrated her First Holy Communion. A good Saturday for the family all round back in May.

Mark Timmons is congratulated by his daughter Kathleen Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

6. Keegan and Connolly in Croke Park

Two of the most high-profile footballers in the country have produced a series of memorable individual duels. When the season finally ended in October, the two embraced after Connolly was crowned an All-Ireland champion again with Dublin as Keegan and Mayo fell just short.

Lee Keegan shakes hands with Diarmuid Connolly Cathal Noonan / INPHO Cathal Noonan / INPHO / INPHO

7. The Tipperary footballers celebrate their win over Galway

Tipperary provided the novel storyline that lit up the summer’s football championship. The afternoon when they reached their first All-Ireland semi-final in 81 years against Galway was the highlight as they showcased their attacking flair to win by nine points.

The memorable post-match scenes saw Tipperary’s small, loyal band of followers soak in the moment of victory with the players in the Hogan Stand.

Family celebrations, summer shocks, club glories - 2016 heartwarming GAA moments
1 / 6
  • inpho_01088510

    Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO
  • Peter Acheson, Conor Sweeney and his father Michael Sweeney celebrate after the game

    Source: Tommy Grealy/INPHO
  • Brian Fox celebrates

    Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO
  • Philip Austin and Kevin O'Halloran celebrate at the final whistle

    Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO
  • Martin Dunne celebrates

    Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO
  • Tipperary fans celebrate after the game

    Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

8. Family celebrations for Tyrone’s Ulster final win

Mickey Harte and his grandson Michael celebrate the victory over Donegal that delivered provincial silverware for the Red Hands in July.

Lorraine O'Sullivan / INPHO Lorraine O'Sullivan / INPHO / INPHO

9. GAA Club Heroics 1 – Slaughtneil (Derry)

Clubs the length and breadth of their country had an autumn and winter to savour after local triumphs. But no one could top the achievements of Slaughtneil – the tiny Derry community that won county and Ulster senior titles in Gaelic football, hurling and camogie.

10. GAA Club Heroics 1 – Ballyea (Clare)

Another club achievement that drew praise from several quarters was that of Ballyea, first-time Clare and Munster senior hurling winners in 2016. Their household name Tony Kelly shared the provincial celebrations in Thurles with his father Donal.

Tony Kelly celebrates with his father Donal James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

11. Ann Downey helps end Kilkenny’s All-Ireland camogie drought

One of the most recognisable names in camogie, Ann Downey won 12 All-Ireland senior medals as a player with Kilkenny. More recently Kilkenny suffered hard times but in September, Downey was the manager as they ended a 22-year wait for an All-Ireland senior camogie crown.

Ann Downey celebrates after the game Tommy Dickson / INPHO Tommy Dickson / INPHO / INPHO

12. Andy Moran with his daughter Charlotte in Croke Park

After the pain of an All-Ireland defeat, the Mayo forward has a young fan for company.

Andy Moran with his daughter Charlotte Cathal Noonan / INPHO Cathal Noonan / INPHO / INPHO

13. Denis Bastick with his son Aidan in Croke Park

It was a great family moment for Denis Bastick as he savoured another All-Ireland final win with a young Dub.

Denis Bastick sons Aidan in the Sam Maguire after the game James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

14. Shock of the summer 1: Westmeath against Kilkenny

The home side were 14/1 outsiders back in May for the Bord Gáis Energy Leinster U21 hurling tie in Mullingar. But Westmeath belied that position and the rich tradition they faced in Kilkenny to claim a famous 1-11 to 0-12 victory.

Delvin Westmeath's Alan Cox and Darragh Clinton celebrate after their victory over Kilkenny. Delvin GAA Delvin GAA

15. Shock of the summer 2: Longford against Monaghan

The expectations surrounding the Longford footballers were low as they headed to the home of the reigning Ulster champions for this qualifier tie. They fell behind to Monaghan yet came back to claim an improbable three-point victory.

Presseye / Andrew Paton/INPHO Presseye / Andrew Paton/INPHO / Andrew Paton/INPHO

16. Sean Cavanagh shares Ulster final glory with his daughters

The long-serving Tyrone player won his fifth Ulster senior medal in July. But this one was particularly sweet as he was captain, the provider of some classy and thunderous long-range points, and was helping his county end a six-year wait for that title. His daughters Clara and Eva got to join him in the stand in Clones afterwards.

Sean Cavanagh with his daughters Clara and Eva Presseye / Andrew Paton/INPHO Presseye / Andrew Paton/INPHO / Andrew Paton/INPHO

17. Pauric Maher remembers a late Thurles Sarsfields hurling selector

Thurles Sarsfields completed a Tipperary senior three-in-a-row in October. Captain Paraic Maher dedicated the win to Lieutenant Colonel Jack Griffin – a Thurles Sarsfields trainer and selector who died tragically last year – and brought Griffin’s three young daughters Laragh, Isabelle and Emma up the Semple Stadium steps to lift the Dan Breen Cup on the team’s behalf.

Thurles Sarsfields captain Padraic Maher raises the senior trophy with Laragh, Isabelle and Emma Griffin Morgan Treacy / INPHO Morgan Treacy / INPHO / INPHO

18. Aisling Holton is joined as she lifts the All-Ireland trophy

Kildare captain Aisling Holton brought a fan up the steps of Croke Park in September, Jennifer Malone from Clane sharing in the All-Ireland intermediate ladies football celebrations.


19. The first Limerick team to win the All-Ireland senior club hurling title

Croke Park has not been a happy hunting ground in recent years for Limerick hurling at county and club level. Na Piarsaigh were the fifth Limerick side to reach the All-Ireland showpiece last St Patrick’s Day and became the first to bring the trophy home with them. Club man Willie Mulcahy toasted the victory with the Na Piarsaigh players after their comprehensive and historic success.

Willie Mulcahy celebrates after the game surrounded by the players Lorraine O'Sullivan / INPHO Lorraine O'Sullivan / INPHO / INPHO

20. Conal Keaney wins an All-Ireland medal in Croke Park

It was with the Dublin footballers that Conal Keaney first established himself at senior level. In the early stages of the 2011 season, he switched to the Dublin hurlers and just missed out on the run of Dublin All-Ireland football victories. With the hurlers, the closest Keaney came to an All-Ireland triumph in Croke Park was when they lost out in the 2013 semi-final to Cork. But last March he got his day in the sun at GAA headquarters, as his Ballyboden St-Enda’s club became All-Ireland kingpins.

Conal Keaney and Michael Darragh Macauley celebrate after  the game Lorraine O'Sullivan / INPHO Lorraine O'Sullivan / INPHO / INPHO

21. Time to embrace after an All-Ireland semi-final

Dublin’s Sorcha Furlong consoles Mayo’s Aileen Gilroy after their August clash at Kingspan Breffni Park.

Sorcha Furlong consoles Aileen Gilroy at the end of the game Lorraine O'Sullivan / INPHO Lorraine O'Sullivan / INPHO / INPHO

22. Kilkenny’s Ger Aylward lifts an All-Ireland trophy on crutches

In 2015 Ger Alyward was the breakthrough player in the Kilkenny forward line. He wound up the season as an All-Ireland champion and an All-Star winner. 2016 was a more sobering experience as Aylward was struck down in late January, tearing his cruciate in the All-Ireland junior club hurling semi-final. When Glenmore won the All-Ireland final in February in Croke Park, his team-mates did not forget Aylward as he was brought up the steps of the Hogan Stand to help lift the trophy.

Philip Roche and Ger Aylward lift the cup Donall Farmer / INPHO Donall Farmer / INPHO / INPHO

23. Cork’s Annie Walsh celebrates another All-Ireland win

All-Ireland final days of glory are nothing new to Annie Walsh and the Cork senior ladies footballers. They remain afternoons to savour though with the latest one arriving in September with a 1-7 to 1-6 win over Dublin. Walsh’s nephews Colm Walsh and Ryan Mackey were there to cheer her on.

Annie Walsh celebrates with her nephews Colm Walsh and Ryan Mackey and the trophy Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

24. The final stand of a Kerry football great

In October Marc Ó Sé brought the curtain down on his own storied career after 16 seasons as a Kerry senior footballer. It also ended a remarkable run with Kerry for the family, starting with the exploits of his late uncle Páidí before brothers Darragh and Tomás also shone in Kingdom colours. Ó Sé’s last appearance in Croke Park as a Kerry footballer was in that epic August collision with Dublin. He was embraced by fellow veteran Aidan O’Mahony after a game that marked his 88th championship appearance for Kerry.

Marc Ó Sé and Aidan O’Mahony at the final whistle James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

25. Brian Hogan becomes a Kilkenny champion

A third county senior hurling title for the long-serving Brian Hogan with O’Loughlin Gaels. This one had a deep meaning with his son Jack there to share in the success.

James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

What GAA moment stood out for you in 2016? Let us know.

The42 is on Instagram! Tap the button below on your phone to follow us!

Your Voice
Readers Comments
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.