CORINTHIANS DO THE IMPOSSIBLE that was the Monday morning headline on May the 6th,1985. This of course was resulting from winning the Harp-Garryowen Centenary All Ireland Club Championship in Thomond Park. Corinthians qualified as Connaught champions by beating Athlone RFC the previous week. Bangor qualified as Ulster champions and dismissed Leinster champions Old Wesley in the first semifinal. Corinthians were up against Cork Constitution in the second semi. This proved to be a tough enough assignment but an early touchdown by hooker Joey Malborough and an excellent convert by the then club President Ciaran Smyth settled the nerves of the westerners. Scrumhalf Tommy Conneely secured another try in the second half to stretch their lead. The Munster side got a consolation try at the death, but all to no avail as the Galway side progressed to the final against Bangor on the following day.
There was much jubilation after their fine win with excellent travelling supporters and also from the neutral Limerick folk. As Harp and Garryowen were hosting the event there was a sit down function in a Limerick Hotel that night. This was a top class affair as the players of the four Provinces and their allacadoos dined with their sponsors. My abiding memory of the occasion was Eoin “Donners” O’ Donnellan giving a rendering of Waltzing Matilda. After the function a disco was held in Garrowen club house so Corinthian’s President Dr Greg Little and his sub committee had a pow wow as regards same. Sanity prevailed and the players were allowed to go and enjoy the disco and have some beverages. The Northerners were commandeered to stay in their accommodation.
As there were no mobiles at the time the bush telegraph got into gear spreading the news to Galway ensuring that more supporters would arrive in Thomond Park for the final. This did the trick with wives, kids, girlfriends and parents arriving to give the Ard na Cregg outfit support.
No more than Corinthians the Bangor side were up for the contest boasting some Ulster players the likes of locks Whittle/Lougheed/Morrow and Todd their captain. Corinthians had injury problems on the day with Declan Greaney, Henry O’Toole and captain Jarlath O’ Connell, but the substitutes made their mark, especially Donners. The westerners really came of age that day as Noel “Fly” Mannion ruled the roost making a name for himself for further glory in an Irish jersey.
For the record, Iggy Madden scored the first try. Fly scored the second as Smythy converted same from the touchline. Bangor were not allowed to play that day scoring only one penalty. It was a remarkable display by Corinthians winning 10 points to 3 points.
Garryowen president Dr Morgan Costello presented the trophy to captain Jarlath O’Connell much to the joy of his fellow players and travelling supporters. This was a fantastic boost for the Galway outfit especially with the grounds and clubhouse in Cloonacauneen nearing completion for the following season.
The All Ireland Champions were given a civic reception by the Mayor Mary Byrne who lauded them on their wonderful achievement.
Corinthian Panel: H O’Toole, F O’Flynn, JJ Gorham, J O’Connell (capt), L Mulcahy, C Smyth, T Conneely, J O’Dea, J Marlborough, P McGrath, P Halloran, K Browne, P Walsh, I Madden, N Mannion, E O’Donnellan, F Brady.T McDonagh.K Flaherty.P McGovern.A Kennedy.C Gallagher.Head Coach;D McDermott.