AIB Looks Back At 2006’s All-Ireland Senior Hurling Club Championship Final Between Portumna And Newtownshandrum

With the AIB GAA All-Ireland Club Hurling and Football Championship Finals fast approaching, Episode 11 of the AIB GAA Club Chronicles revisits one of the fiercest All-Ireland Club Finals in recent years with a look back at the clash of Portumna and Newtownshadrum. 

Live today, Episode 11 delves into the 2006 decider which saw Galway champions Portumna take on Newtownshandrum of Cork. The Portumna forward-line featured Galway prodigy Joe Canning who had blazed their route to the final, while Newtownshandrum counted Rebel stars Ben and Jerry O’Connor amongst their ranks.

There was plenty on the line for both sides on that day in March in GAA HQ. While the North Cork outfit had claimed All-Ireland success two years previous, the Western side were eager to make their mark at the national stage for the first time. Eugene McEntee remarks how it was a dream of his, since a young age, to climb the steps of the Hogan Stand and lift the Tommy Moore cup for his club, while former Galway captain Ollie Canning notes that his side had ‘a lot to prove’ to the GAA public.

Newtownshandrum, on the other hand, were keen to make it two All-Ireland titles in three years. The rural club, known for punching above their weight, had maximised their “small club” potential and knew they were a match for any side. Wing-forward Donal Mulachy concedes that his club had beaten teams that were better than the small rural club from the north of Cork, and that they would not fear any team who stood in their way that year.

The fifth instalment of Season Two, the 11th episode in the overall series is now available to view, here

Proud to continue its sponsorship of the AIB GAA Club Championships for a 29th consecutive year, AIB has again teamed up with The Sports Chronicle to honour some of the most legendary moments from the Club Championship. Launched last year, the AIB GAA Club Chronicles recounts the stories of some of the most iconic games over the last three decades as told by some of the main protagonists, for the fans.

The second season of the AIB GAA Club Chronicles, which will be released across AIB GAA’s social channels, brings to life the highs and lows of these epic games through the unique perspective of those involved on the day. Each episode covers the stories of two rival teams who went head-to-head in a match that left them with memories of one of the best wins or toughest losses of their careers.

A leader at the back for his side, McEntee reveals how he and his teammates mentally prepared themselves for both the game and occasion, “You look up at the stands, and take a deep breath.” The Galway men appreciating the occasion, then switching their entire focus to the next 60 minutes with one aim of leaving the field victorious.

Brendan Mulcahy, full back on the day and brother of Brendan, noted how overwhelming the experience on Croke Park on All-Ireland Club Finals Day was. After one-point victories in both the Munster Club Hurling Final and the All-Ireland semi-final, Newtownshandrum were eager to start strongly with no mistakes in the first five minutes.

The two teams had sized each other up in a challenge game during the season, in which the Newtownshandrum defenders got a first glimpse at Galway teenage sensation Joe Canning. They had hoped to keep the electric forward on a tighter leash this time round. However, it was the opposite that occurred, with Canning netting for Portumna two minutes in before the Galway men grabbed another three-pointer with just six minutes gone.

While this initially shellshocked the men from the Rebel County, Newtownshadrum rallied and came back in to the game through scores from the O’Connor brothers and rising star Cathal Naughton. A goal from the aforementioned Jerry O’Connor at the stroke of half time gave Newtownshadrum a massive boost.

It was clear that Portumna had to raise their game to another level in order to stem the tide. While Newtownshandrum came out strong as predicted in the second half, man of the match on the day Joe Canning stood up to be counted, shooting numerous frees under immense pressure. “If you’re going to win finals, you need a free taker,” comments Eugene McEntee, and Portumna certainly had one in the 17-year old Canning who fired over six dead balls on the day.

This composed display from Canning, matched with an assured defensive performance from the more experienced players on the panel, got the Galway side over the line to win their debut All-Ireland Championship on a scoreline of 2-08 to 1-06. Portumna went on to win back to back titles in 2008 and 2009 after their 2006 victory and were crowned champions once again in 2014. Ollie Canning and Eugene McEntee amazingly featured on all-four winning teams.

Newtownshandrum, however, are yet to emulate their success from 2004, not making a final since their battle with Portumna in 2006 and are a clear example of why the Club Championships are #TheToughest of all.

This story explores the emotions both clubs felt and showcases the integral role of GAA within a community. Created for the families, parishes and communities who have shown unconditional support for their clubs, the AIB GAA Club Chronicles aims to bring these incredible stories back to life for the fans. Through personal interviews, archive footage and photographs, viewers will be able to experience #TheToughest moments throughout AIB’s sponsorship of the All-Ireland Club Championships.

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