Brothers, Cousins, Fathers and Sons - How Family Helped Liam Mellows End A 47-Year Wait

Brothers, Cousins, Fathers and Sons - How Family Helped Liam Mellows End A 47-Year Wait

Yesterday, Galway's Liam Mellows secured their first County Hurling Senior Championship in 47 years. They shocked Gort 3-12 to 1-15 in a huge victory for the city club.

The Galway final is always played later in the year as there is no Connacht Championship. Therefore the game is scheduled closer to the All-Ireland Semi-Final than other county finals. Mellows had not featured in a final since they last won one in 1970 and did not have a single Galway hurler from the recent All-Ireland success on the panel.

Only one player from that September day played in the game, Gort's Aidan Harte. Mellows have a staunch team spirit which saw them overcome Cappataggle by a single point in the Semi-Final before creating yesterday's upset. In the quarter-final, they were six points down ten minutes into the second half yet rallied to force a replay.

It is easy to see where that spirit comes from, Mellows are a family club. Literally. They were propelled to victory by an exhibition in free-taking from full forward Adrian Morrissey, who landed 0-08. At full-back was his brother, Sean.

Ronan Elwood landed a fine score from centre-forward, while his cousin Conor came on at corner-forward. Another cousin, John, is on the panel and a member of the coaching team is Ronan's father, Paul.


In midfield was Kevin Lee, brother of former Galway hurler John, who is also in the squad but currently injured. There are two more sets of brothers on the panel, Luke and Ross Byrne and Brian and Colum Leen.

Of the starting 15, six went to primary and then secondary school together. Allies on and off the field.

Former Galway hurler and current GPA president David Collins played at wing-back for Liam Mellows. Collins spent 13 years hurling with his county only to retire last year. As a result, he missed out on an All-Ireland medal when Galway beat Waterford September past.

It has still been a great 2017 for Collins. He got to share yesterday's monumental success with his mother Mary, wife Sarah and sister Áine. His father Dermot was there too.

Team spirit is a difficult one to define and harder still to implant. We are regularly told the GAA is about community and Liam Mellows epitomizes that. They were an intermediate club as recently as 2004. In order to trust in competition, we need the stories of smaller, family-orientated clubs penetrating a monopoly like the one held over Galway hurling in recent years. City clubs have persistently failed to even reach county finals, a young Mellows team broke new ground yesterday.

Cheesy as it is, we need these stories in order to believe. No sporting contest is as restrained as the hurling championship is, the more underdog successes the better.

They take on Leinster Champions Cuala next. The Dublin champions won the Leinster provincial final yesterday, roared by their enthusiastic support or 'Cuala ultras.'

That won't phase Liam Mellows though, they have a brigade of their own.

SEE ALSO: "King Con" The Difference As Cuala Retain Leinster Hurling Crown

Maurice Brosnan

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