Feel Good Factor

23 heartwarming moments from the GAA season in 2017

Mícheál Donoghue with his father, Colm Cooper’s club win and Dublin’s ladies football breakthrough.

1. Mícheál Donoghue with his father Miko and the Liam MacCarthy Cup

Hard to find a more emotive image from the GAA season. Mícheál Donoghue guided Galway to that long-awaited All-Ireland triumph in September but it was getting to present the prize to his father Miko – bus driver for the great Galway teams in the 80s – at the Ballinasloe Monday homecoming that resonated most.

2. Johnny Buckley brings young Dr Crokes fan Amy O’Connor down to lift the All-Ireland trophy with him

The Killarney club ended a 25-year wait for glory but amidst the euphoria Buckley thought to bring down the 10-year-old fan who has been battling illness to lift the Andy Merrigan Cup with him.

Johnny Buckley lifts the trophy with Amy O'Connor Tommy Dickson / INPHO Tommy Dickson / INPHO / INPHO

officialgaa / YouTube

3. Eoghan O’Gara and his daughter after All-Ireland final

Another Sam Maguire triumph for Dublin in September, another great moment of celebration for Eoghan O’Gara and his daughter Ella.

Eoghan O’Gara celebrates with his daughter Ella after the game James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

4. The Keady family share in Galway’s Liam MacCarthy Cup triumph

Current and former Galway players were in Croke Park with Margaret and Shannon Keady, the wife and daughter of the late All-Ireland winner Tony who passed away in August.

Margaret and Shannon Keady with Pete Finnerty James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

David Burke and Joe Canning with Margaret Keady James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

5. Roscommon pitch invasion after winning the Connacht title

The outsiders staged an ambush in Salthill against a fancied Galway side with goals from Cian Connolly and Brian Stack propelling them to a memorable triumph.

Enda Smith and Donal Smith celebrate with supporters in the crowd after the game Bryan Keane / INPHO Bryan Keane / INPHO / INPHO

6. Wexford pitch invasion after beating Kilkenny

Another famous provincial victory arrived in the Leinster semi-final with Wexford ending years of disappointment at the hands of Kilkenny as Davy Fitzgerald masterminded a three-point victory.

7. Dublin finally winning All-Ireland ladies senior title

Keep going has been the mantra of the Dublin ladies football side in recent times. They lost out by a point in the 2014 final, by two points in the 2015 decider and by a point again in the 2016 final with Cork the victors on all three occasions. In 2017 they got it right on final day as they swept past Mayo to achieve glory.

Dublin celebrate with The Brendan Martin Cup Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

8. The Cuala Ultras provided backing track for their hurling exploits

It was a brilliant year for the Cuala hurlers – All-Ireland champions in March, Dublin winners in October and Leinster kingpins in December. Their colourful and noisy band of young fans were with them all the way. / YouTube

Cuala fans celebrate a goal Oisin Keniry / INPHO Oisin Keniry / INPHO / INPHO

9. The Gooch finally winning an All-Ireland club title

It was the only honour that had eluded him and the lack of a national title with Dr Crokes had grated with the Kerry football great. But after a final loss and three semi-final reversals, Colm Cooper finally tasted glory with his Dr Crokes team-mates on St Patrick’s Day last.

10. Jason Flynn dedicating the All-Ireland win to this brother

The September win was a special moment for a Galway super sub. Jason Flynn picked off 0-2 as they became All-Ireland senior champions. In October 2008 his older brother Paul passed away and the 2017 victory saw Jason fulfill a promise he had made at that time.

“You hurl for the crest and you hurl for what’s inside the crest,” Jason told The42 after that game. 

“He (Paul) brought me everywhere, he was my idol. To see the smile on my family’s face and the tears of joy that came out of them, it’s a dream come true.”

Jason Flynn celebrates with the Liam McCarthy James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

11. Rathnew celebrate after toppling Dublin giants St Vincent’s

One of the best underdog wins of the year saw Wicklow’s Rathnew take down Dublin’s St Vincent’s at the opening stage of the Leinster championship. Rathnew were rank outsiders against a St Vincent’s side who had won three Leinster club crowns since 2013 but they prevailed by four points.

Rathnew players celebrate after winning Tommy Grealy / INPHO Tommy Grealy / INPHO / INPHO

12. Rena Buckley makes history on All-Ireland camogie final day

Another remarkable milestone for the Cork star. She made history in September by winning an 18th All-Ireland medal and also became the first person to captain their county to All-Ireland glory in both codes.

13. Diarmuid O’Sullivan and Maurice Shanahan after All Ireland semi final

The Rock and the Shan – Cork’s Diarmuid O’Sullivan reached the end of the 2017 championship road as he congratulated Waterford’s Maurice Shanahan at booking a place in the September showpiece.

14. Westmeath players celebrating intermediate camogie title

It was a first visit to Croke Park to remember for Westmeath camogie as they won their maiden All-Ireland premier junior crown. Niamh Horan, Sarah King and Denise McGrath savoured that winning feeling.

Niamh Horan, Sarah King and Denise McGrath celebrate winning Gary Carr / INPHO Gary Carr / INPHO / INPHO

15. Cora Staunton consoles Brid Stack after August’s All-Ireland semi-final

The Mayo attacking great with the Cork defensive champion after Mayo brought Cork’s run of glory since 2010 to an end.

Cora Staunton consoles Brid Stack of Cork at the end of the game Donall Farmer / INPHO Donall Farmer / INPHO / INPHO

16. Sean Cavanagh bows out against Dublin

One of the most celebrated careers in the GAA drew to a close in late August when Sean Cavanagh played his last game for Tyrone. Even amidst victory, Dublin’s players sought to salute the Tyrone great.

Paul Flynn with Sean Cavanagh Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

Philip McMahon with Sean Cavanagh

17. Slaughtneil’s days of club glory

It was impressive when Slaughtneil managed to win Ulster senior football, hurling and camogie titles in 2016. Retaining all three of those provincial crowns in 2017 was an astonishing achievement. They have plenty All-Ireland adventures to look forward to next spring.

18. Damian Cahalane with his father Niall after Cork’s win over Tipperary 

The Cork hurlers enjoyed a memorable Munster hurling campaign. Full-back Damian Cahalane became central to their success and encapsulated the side’s improvement.

Damian Cahalane celebrates Cathal Noonan / INPHO Cathal Noonan / INPHO / INPHO

19. Bernard Power goes mad after Corofin’s Connacht final win

Claiming provincial senior titles is nothing new for Galway’s Corofin. November’s win over Castlebar Mitchels represented their third victory in Connacht in four years but judging by their goalkeeper Bernard Power’s reaction, they’re not tired of that rate of success just yet.

pjimage (3) INPHO INPHO

20. Mark McHugh and baby son Noah after the Donegal county final

Kilcar ended a 24-year wait for a senior title in Donegal this year. It was a sweet victory after a barren spell and came just twelve months after an agonising one-point defeat to Glenswilly in the decider. Mark McHugh was crowned man-of-the-match and got to savour the win with his baby son Noah.

21. Lee Keegan lands an All-Ireland title at last

The 2016 Footballer of the Year has secured plenty awards recognising his individual excellence yet All-Ireland success has eluded him with Mayo. But this year he managed to claim that honour on the club stage as Westport were crowned intermediate champions after a thrilling final last February.

Lee Keegan and his team mates celebrate with the cup Tommy Grealy / INPHO Tommy Grealy / INPHO / INPHO

22. After injury setbacks, Richie Power lands an All-Ireland club title

Forced to retire from inter-county hurling at the age of 29 due to injury, it was a grave disappointment at seeing Richie Power’s career cut short. He did have the consolation of plenty All-Ireland glories with Kilkenny to reflect on but his triumph in 2017 is one he will savour.

Power supplied a return of 0-6 as Carrickshock landed the All-Ireland intermediate title last February at Croke Park. It was a club comeback that was heartening to see.

23. The late Niall Donohue is remembered after Galway’s All-Ireland final win

In the aftermath of their September glory the key figures did not forget Niall Donohue, the Galway hurler who took his own life in 2013. Captain David Burke rightly drew praise for mentioning the Kilbeacanty man in his speech while Donohue’s cousin Conor Whelan raised a flag in memory along with Joe Canning and team kit man James ‘Tex’ Callaghan.

Joe Canning, Conor Whelan and Tex Callaghan with a flag in memory of Niall Donohue James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

What GAA moment stood out for you in 2017? Let us know.

The42 has just published its first book, Behind The Lines, a collection of some of the year’s best sports stories. Pick up your copy in Eason’s, or order it here today (€10):

Quiz: Do you know what county these 2017 Gaelic football club winners are from?

‘There was tears in the eyes, it was highly emotional stuff’ – Galway’s All-Ireland breakthrough

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