1980 GALWAY WIN IN YEAR OF BREAKTHROUGHS:

An open draw was introduced in Leinster in 1980 and Offaly came through.

Kilkenny and Wexford met in the semi-final. Anything other than a thriller between these two sides would have been out of the question in these times. It didn’t look quite like that at half time, though, when Kilkenny led by 3 – 9 to 0 – 8. After ten minutes of the second half they had increased their lead to twelve points and it wasn’t looking good for Wexford. After they had converted a penalty, however, the Purple and Gold surged into life and with seven minutes to go they had reduced the gap to a single point. But Kilkenny weren’t prepared to let the game slip and they finished off with a goal and a point to win by 4 – 16 to 3 – 14.

In the other semi-final, played as a curtain raiser on the same day, Offaly looked unimpressive in beating Dublin by 0 – 18 to 0 – 10.

Because Kilkenny were such red hot favourites, less than 10,000 spectators turned out for the final. Those who failed to show missed history in the making. Offaly were on fire from the start and went into a six-point lead after only eight minutes. Offaly continued to have the best of the play but three goals by Kilkenny gave them a flattering half time lead of 3 – 6 to 1 – 10. In the second period, the lead bobbed to and fro but, with four minutes to go, Offaly led by four points. Then, Matt Ruth scored his third goal to leave Kilkenny one point behind. They tried hard to get the equaliser but failed, and Offaly won their first Leinster title by 3 – 17 to 5 – 10.

Although a close encounter, the All-Ireland semi-final was a poor game. Offaly were hungry and so too were Galway but it was the latter’s experience that told on the day. For some years they had been serious contenders and had competed in two finals. As it turned out, Galway won by two points but their victory margin would have been far greater if their forwards hadn’t been so wasteful in shooting 17 wides. Final score: Galway 4 – 9, Offaly 3 – 10.

 

Cork were looking good for a sixth successive Munster title after easily defeating Tipperary by 2 – 17 to 1 – 12 in the semi-final. After an impressive win over Waterford, Clare went down to Limerick in the other semi-final. Having thrashed Limerick by nine points in the replayed League final, Cork were firm favourites to win the decider. Limerick, however, showed tremendous determination and played a superb game of hurling to upset a somewhat tired Cork side, winning by 2 – 14 to 2 – 10.

Limerick’s form in the League and Munster championship made them favourites in this unique All-Ireland final. It was Galway, though, playing against the breeze, that got off to the best start with two early goals.

At half time they led by five points. Galway maintained the advantage after the break but, late in the second half, Limerick fought back and cut the gap to two points. A wonderful performance by goalkeeper, Mike Conneely kept them at bay and Galway ended up victorious with a score of 2 – 15 to 3 – 9. The celebrations in Croke Park for Galway’s first All-Ireland title since their lone win of 1923 were the most enthusiastic ever seen. It was a great day for hurling.