I’ve spent some time this morning trying to determine what the Connacht senior football championship roll of honour now looks like following our most recent victory on Sunday. This is because there appears to be some confusion as to whether or not Sunday’s provincial title victory was our 44th or 45th and if, as a result, we’re now level with or ahead of Galway in the roll of honour.
From what I can see, there appears to be no doubt about the Galway total of 44 Connacht titles, although it’s not 100% clear as to what years they won them in. This lack of clarity, not surprisingly, relates to the very early years of the championship, specifically the period between 1900 and 1910 and it’s this period too where the source of the confusion about whether or not we have 44 or 45 Connacht crowns to our credit also lies.
There are a number of sources that may be consulted to try to sort out this statistical point but, having done so, what’s clear to me is that the sources themselves differ regarding results of Connacht finals and the years in which matches took place. Adding another layer of uncertainty to this issue is the fact that competitions often ran a year or more behind in those days (for example, the 1901 Connacht final wasn’t played until November 1902), with the picture further clouded by objections, counter-objections and appeals, which seemed to be ten-a-penny back then.
So, wading through this all this puzzlement and having consulted a number of sources – including those I used myself when putting together the results archive here on the site – I’ve come to the tentative conclusion that our provincial title count stands level with Galway on 44 … but I’m still far from sure about the exact years we won out in Connacht in the period 1900-1910.
From what I can see, all sources are in agreement about who won out in 1900 (Galway), 1901 (us), 1904 (us), 1905 (Roscommon) and 1906-9 (us, our first Connacht four-in-a-row). The confusion, then, seems to centre on 1902, 1903 and 1910. To get to the 44 total, we need to be credited with one of these three and we need two of them to reach 45 and so overhaul Galway.
My own archive lists Galway as the winners of the 1902 Connacht championship, with the final played in Claremorris on 3rd May 1903 which Galway won by 0-5 to 1-1. The Complete Handbook of Gaelic Games lists Galway as the unopposed winners in Connacht that year and Wikipedia does likewise. Hogan Stand also includes 1902 within Galway’s total. Sunday’s match programme, however, gives 1902 to us and in a previous programme (the one for the 2011 semi-final) lists the 1902 result as a 2-2 to 0-6 victory for us. Terry Reilly’s The Green Above the Red has the same result in our favour for that year but The Complete Handbook of Gaelic Games has that 2-2 to 0-6 result down as the outcome of the refixed 1901 final. That’s what I have too. I’m leaning towards Galway for 1902, then.
1903 appears to be between ourselves and Roscommon. Sunday’s programme gives it to the Rossies, as does my own archive, but The Complete Handbook of Gaelic Games and Wikipedia both give it to us, on a final scoreline of 3-6 to 0-1. Hogan Stand also credits us for 1903. What’s clear is that 3-6 to 0-1 win over the Rossies did, definitely, take place but the date I have for when it was played is 16th April 1905 and from what I can see this match would have been the decider for the 1904 championship, which all sources agree we won. To try to clear up the point, I consulted the Irish Newspaper Archives again earlier on today and both the Connaught Telegraph and the Leitrim Observer carry reports in April 1904 of a Connacht final between Roscommon (Elphin) and Mayo (Castlebar Mitchels) which the Rossies won by 1-2 to 0-4. (It appears there was an objection lodged by the losers about this match too but it doesn’t seem to have gone anywhere). This must have been the 1903 final so I think we can safely chalk the Rossies down for that one.
That leaves 1910, which Sunday’s programme credits to Galway but which The Complete Handbook of Gaelic Games, Wikipedia, Hogan Stand and my own archive lists as one won by us. I have that one down as a 1-4 to 0-5 win for us over Galway, as does The Green Above the Red but that source then goes on to say the following (at page 180): “Records, too, have been in error in crediting the 1910 title to Mayo. Mayo and Roscommon met in the semi-final in Athlone, which gave rise to an objection. Roscommon went on to play Galway in the final at Athleague on October 8th, 1911, with Galway winning by 1-3 to 1-2.” I think this assertion is incorrect. That 1-3 to 1-2 win for Galway appears, instead, to be the 1911 final (both The Complete Handbook of Gaelic Games and Wikipedia list it as such) and primary sources I’ve consulted just now (Irish Independent and Freeman’s Journal) are both clear that our 1-4 to 0-5 win over Galway on 30th October 2010 was a provincial final. That can only have been the 1910 decider and so I’m giving that one to us.
In summary, then, if we accept that Galway should be credited with the 1902 Connacht title, Roscommon with 1903 and us with 1910 (or, as Sunday’s match programme has it, that we get 1902 while Galway get 1910) then ourselves and the Tribesmen will head into 2014 locked on 44 provincial crowns each. I know we’ve substantial fish to fry before thinking ahead to next year’s provincial championship campaign but this statistic does, I think, give us a strong incentive to push on for a Connacht four-in-a-row then.