Rabbitte hails Portumna’s quality

Castlegar were the pioneers, the first team from Galway to win an All-Ireland senior club hurling title, 34 years ago.

Rabbitte hails Portumna’s quality

Sarsfields were the first real force, All-Ireland winners in 1993 and 1994 and the first side to complete a Galway three in a row (Kiltormer had won in 1992).

Then came Athenry, three-time All-Ireland champions in five years and now Portumna, who on Monday contest their fifth final since 2006, and have also picked up a trio of All-Ireland crowns. Just how good are Portumna, though, and where do they stand in the echelon within Galway?

Joe Rabbitte has eight Galway senior medals, started his club career with Athenry when Sars were the dominant force and was still hurling when Portumna won a first title, in 2003, so is in perfect position to assess them. “Portumna are the top team in the country over the last 10 years so there’s no question of their quality.

I wouldn’t remember the Castlegar team but I’d have very high regard for the Sarsfields team, every one of them was a colossus. What separated Sarsfields was how small the parish is, the whole team came from just a few houses and you had all those Cooneys (six brothers). The Castlegar team was a bit like that too, all the Connollys (seven brothers) and Portumna did have all the Cannings when they started off; Seamus, Frankie, Dave, Ivan, Ollie — Joe wasn’t there the first year. I think you need that at club level, hurling families.

“Club hurling is strong in Galway because the clubs are so united in themselves, and that’s what it’s all about, camaraderie, club spirit. That tells when you go outside the county. It’s a closer bond than anything you’ll have with the county!.”

So can Portumna win Monday and go one ahead of Athenry in the All-Ireland roll of honour?

“Mount Leinster Rangers have come from nowhere, won a very good championship in Leinster and beat the 2012 champions in the All-Ireland semi-final, but Portumna have the experience and that could be crucial in Croke Park.”

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