1977 - 2024


The Fives - a potted history of the Finals we have enjoyed

The First Final

The very first final was contested by Molly Malone’s and Ginger's V. This was the classic  Dublin/Galway confrontation, but the local side was outclassed by the sparkling display  of the Home Farm youngsters. A star of that first winning side was Noel King, who went  on to become manager of both Derry and Shamrock Rovers: he played professionally in  France and was National Coach for a time. He is now manager of the Irish Senior ladies  team and the supremo of the women’s game, so life has not stood still football wise for  'Kinger'. He was ably assisted on that day by Harry McCue, who went on to win League  of Ireland honours with Athlone Town and Martin Murray, then a seventeen-year-old  star in the making at Everton. Sadly his full-time career was ended prematurely by a  slight heart defect, but he went on to enjoy many years in the League of Ireland.  

We welcomed Martin back to Salthill as our guest of honour 25 years later and he  subsequently led Dundalk to FA Cup honours. Facing them that day was 'Ginger' Collins  and the Mervue lads. Tony Collins, a native of Limerick, but an adopted son of Mervue,  also had the Long twins Mike (RIP) and Peter in his line up. I seem to remember the late  Bernard Concar and Austin Molloy also in the squad - I could be wrong, but I’m sure I’ll  be corrected over the weekend if I am.  

1978 - 1980

The second final was an all-local contest between the 'Red Devils' and the Mixture. The  Devils were made up of players of Galway Bohemians and they just about edged a tight  final against a team put together by Art Friel. Art was then manager of Salthill Devon,  later became Chairman of the Galway and District League and now works fulltime with  the FAI, here in the West. In that second final he had John Cleary, Kieran Sciaska and  Harry Lee as his top players. Harry’s son Alan is now coaching with Ipswich Town – he  also played previously with Aston Villa, Burnley, Rotherham and Cardiff City. They found  Martin Keady, Brian Cassidy, Tony Killeen and Damien Bradley that bit too good. In 1979  Ginger's V were back in the final again and again they found one to good for them and  they were The Villa. A composite team made up of Galway Rovers players and Eamon  'Chick' Deacy (RIP) who was then at Aston Villa.  

Tommy and Tony Murphy, Miko Nolan (RIP), Mike 'Merbles' Murphy, Chick (RIP), Gerry  Curran and Martin Ryan were the triumphant team in one of the toughest finals to date.  The following year the Villa were piping hot favourites and they duly advanced to the  final. However in that great 1980 final they were run ragged by perhaps one of the best  teams to have won the 'Fives'; Cherry Orchard. Ritchie Bayly then a star in the making at  Shamrock Rovers was the architect of the victory. He scored a goal in the final that  regular attendees of the "Five's" are still talking about. They had Dave Henderson, who went on to a spectacular League of Ireland, career in goals and they also featured  Tommy Barron, Dermot O'Riordan (brother of Don) and Fran Mackey.  

1981 - 1986

The title stayed on the East coast in 1981 when the winners were Ajax. Otherwise  known as Rathnew Celtic and powered by Mick Moody, who became a top class player  at both St Patrick's Athletic and Shamrock Rovers, they also featured in their ranks  Shamie McGettigan, who would become a Salthill Devon stalwart, the Lawless brothers  and not forgetting that man 'Halo' Doyle who scored all the goals. They beat the  unluckiest team to have played in the Five's St Dominicks Dundalk. 'Dominicks' had  Barry Kehoe, and Dessie Todd in their side. Barry would go on to be a League of Ireland  star and was watched by Liverpool extensively. He beat cancer twice and went on to  play junior football for many years. Tragically he succumbed to illness in October 2002  at the young age of 40; he is missed by all who enjoyed watching him play; Dessie Todd  went on to play for Galway Rovers subsequently. The following year the title made its  way back to Galway City when Hibs captured the trophy. Hibs were a 'Fives' machine  and in Tom Lally they had a class goalkeeper. His distribution and John Tierney's control  were the key factors as St Dominick’s were beaten for the second year in a row.  

1983 saw the emergence of Stephen Lally and Noel Mernagh as a class act in the Fives. Their guile, pace and flair saw them home against Clonmel Town for whom goalkeeper Martin Quinliven was named player of the tournament. Martin went on to play in the League of Ireland for Waterford United for a number of seasons. Salthill Devon got a side to the final in 1984, the 'Seagulls' but they were beaten by Templevilla, which was side made up of Galway and Athlone players featuring Denis Bonner, John Mannion, Mick Sheehan and managed by Tony Mannion. The 'Gulls' had Mick 'Striker' Sweeney in goal; he has since settled in Boston but returns to the Fives on a regular basis. Micky Mc Loughlin, Timmy Groake, Tony Joyce, Noel Fadden and Gerry O'Loughlin completed their line up. Mervue Select under the late Bernard Concar were the winners the following year and they had the satisfaction of beating Galway United in the final. 1986 saw a strange occurrence. Not only were both finalists from Dublin but also both were from Ballyfermot. Scafform (Ballyfermot United) beat a gallant Gala Rangers side with Tom Abbey being selected as player of the tournament.

1987 - 1992

Mernagh and Lally were back again in 1987 this time in the guise of West Boys. They had  added Mick O’Toole in goals with the Walsh brothers and Ger Connell they beat Fanad  United on penalties. The Donegal lads had a really strong side with John McElwaine and  Johnny Kelly their star players. Castlebar Celtic added their name to the roll of honour in  1988 when they beat Keenan's Men from Athlone. Celtic had star performers in  veterans Fergie McEllin, Brian Ainsworth and Padraic Cresham while the Ryan brothers  provided a youthful balance. Keenan's men were to go one better the following year.  Now it might seem difficult to take a team serious with nicknames like 'Peachy' 'Jelly'  and 'Jaffa' but they did their talking on the pitch and driven on by Denis Clarke they  lifted the trophy in 1989 beating the Youngbloods from Salthill Devon, with John  'Jumbo' Brennan and John Kilraine in their ranks. 

1990 saw the advent of Shelbourne in the final and they won at their first attempt  beating Galway United in the final. The ageless Fred Davis managed the side that also  featured Gary Howlett and Bobby Browne. 'United’ got some consolation when John  Carr was named Player of the Tournament.  

The most unusual final of all took place in 1991 when Cup winners Galway United got  both their teams to the final. Then manager Joey Malone had divided the teams on the  basis of the Galway based players and the Dublin based players plus Tommy Keane. As it  turned out the locally based players routed their teammates in a very one side final.  The following year we had Shelbourne back again in the final and this time they were  pitted against the boys from Bradford, Eccleshill United. As usual the English lads had  come to enjoy themselves but they also showed that they could play the game as well  and they gave the League of Ireland champions a real fright before succumbing.  Eccleshill played ‘their final’ in the penultimate round when they defeated Athlone  Town, where a dazzling display by Kent Noble kept Michael O’Connor scoreless. Bobby  Browne was named Player of the Tournament, an award he thoroughly deserved.  

1993 - 1996

The title returned to Galway City in 1993, when Donnie Farragher’s ‘Smurfs", alias  Mervue United were the eventual winners, edging out Galway United in a close fought  game. It is not often that headed goals are scored in five’s - much less goals that win  national titles, but John Carr did just that from Donnie Farragher’s Mick Mc Carthy like,  long throw. Galway United were back in the final for the fourth time in five years in ‘94  and this time they went one better, beating the Gold Diggers. In ‘95 the title stayed  in the National League with Shamrock Rovers - the most illustrious name in Irish soccer  adding their name to the Roll of Honour. The Hoops cleaned up as they won Player of  the Tournament and Terry Eviston won a goal of the tournament award, for which he  received several gallons of Harp. 

The trend of the professionals dominating was broken in ’96 year when  Aisling/Annacotty from Limerick became the first team from that part of the world to  win the tournament when they were too good for the Boston Dukes. The Dukes were  made up of current and former students of Babson College, Boston, Mass, who came  especially for the event. Craig Porter of the Dukes, was named played of the tournament.  Every now and then you come across a player who seems born to play Five’s and Craig  Porter was one of them.  

1997 - 2000

The famous ‘Hoops’ of Shamrock Rovers captured their second crown in 1997, when  they got the better of Keenan’s Boys. The ‘Boys’ from Athlone have played in the Fives  since the early days in various guises and were previously beaten in a final, with  different personnel, as Keenan’s Men in 1998. Rovers were powered by Pat ‘Nutsy’  Fenlon who duly captured the player of the tournament award also. Fenlon is now  manager of Shamrock Rovers. 1998 was the turn of the students to come good, with a  team built around UCG players. ‘The Bettor Betters’ had Shane ‘Bushy’ O'Loughlin,  playing is his second consecutive final and they also supplied the player of the tournament in Robbie Griffin. UCD and Irish Universities goalkeeper Seamus Kelly  starred between the sticks for the ‘Bettors’ and he later graduated to the first team at  Cardiff City.  

Peter Keenan’s Boys were back again in ’99 and they faced surprise packets Billy Big  Timers, for whom Player of the Tournament Colie Kelly & James ‘Rusty’ Walsh were  outstanding, in the final, "Keenan’s" prevailed with Padraigh Moran – then a Sligo  Rovers player - grabbing the winning goal.   

The millennium year saw old friends Eccleshill United scoop the ultimate prize for the  first time. They were outstanding all through and Gary Shaw was also named Player of  the Tournament. Once again a surprise packet side ended up in the final. ‘Cow’ with  Galway United youth players John Burke and Sean Cleary and Luther Watson providing  the goals almost made it. The strength and overall ability of Eccleshill saw them home.  

2001 - 2004

2001 was Bobby Ryan’s ‘Fives’. He scored a goal in the final that would grace a world cup stage and he also scooped the Player of the Tournament Award. The Classic 7 also included the Keogh brothers and Eddie Hickey. Eccleshill United in their second consecutive final failed at the last hurdle in their quest for back-to-back titles – and so it remained – no team had yet retained the National Fives title. Barry Moran turned the 2002 Fives into his personal stage, as the Doncaster Donkeys scooped the trophy.

The Doncaster Donkeys, whose style of play bore no resemblance to their name kept  their composure best of all for a side so young they outgunned Harry’s Buns in a terrific final. Mark Moran led the winner’s brilliantly throughout, while his younger brother  Barry’s top-drawer displays earned him the Player of the Tournament Award. The  runner’s up featured former Salthill Devon and Galway United player Conor Killeen, with  other universities internationals Harry Costello, Colly Costello and Gareth Beatty, they  were managed by former UCG star Paul O’Neill. The youngsters had to come from  behind as Conor Killeen’s goal put Harry’s Buns in front. Goals however from Charlie  Burke, and Barry Moran ensured victory for the “Donkeys”.

2003, the Buns finally triumphed, Harry got the winning goal, Castle Celtic had given their all in the semi final. Celtic were probably the youngest team to get to the final,  with John Corcoran providing the experience. However Tom Devane, Ronan Killeen and  skipper Gareth Beatty had too much strength and guile. Consolation for Castle came in  the shape of Player of the Tournament award for Tommy Walshe. 28 years on and no  team had strung together back to back victories – Harry’s Buns may well be the guys to  rectify that statistic. 

The previous sentence was written prior to the 2003 tournament and Harry’s Buns did  indeed rectify the statistics!

2004 & 2005

2004: Harry’s Buns led by Conor Killeen became the first team ever to retain the  Carlsberg National Fives Title. They prevailed over the Great Outdoors Flyers in one of  the great finals. 

In the semi finals the Flyers, saw off the challenge of the previous year’s beaten Finalists  Castle Celtic, with the Buns easily beating the Better Bettors. 

The Flyers relied mainly on Player of the Tournament Eric Levine, who gave a master  class in Fives play and he duly opened the scoring in the final with a blinding shot. The Buns stayed well in contention however and they rode their luck, when Ollie Keogh  missed a gilt edged chance to put the game beyond doubt. Spurred on by that slice of  good fortune, Harry’s Buns gradually gained control and two second half goals from Tom  Devane and Conor Killeen sealed the victory. 

2005 was a highly competitive tournament, but as ever at 5.30 on Sunday evening there  were only two left standing, Castle Celtic, beaten finalists in 2003 and Lonergan’s  Legends (Salthill Devon). Having tasted defeat two years previously, Castle were  prepared to go that extra yard and somehow they summoned up the energy to keep  Lonergans at bay, while Tommy Walsh grabbed the vital score in the second half. Castle  went throughout the tournament without conceding a single goal, which is a record,  while the runner’s up only conceded two goals in seven games. Another unique record  was also created on Sunday when Mike Nolan collected his winner’s medal – he is the  son of Miko Nolan (RIP) a Galway soccer legend, who played on the winning “Villa” team  in 1979. 

Willie Greer of Lonergan’s Legends was selected as Player of the tournament, by special  guest Mike Summerbee. He was presented with the Diarmuid Fadden memorial medal. 

2006 & 2007

2006: 30 years on and finally a Salthill winner. The “Bagel Factory” and the “Vibrating  Chickens” were the last two standing after sixteen hours of non stop football with not  one walkover being conceded in that time. 

The added bonus to the final lineout was that it was the classic Salthill Mervue  confrontation. The “Bagel Factory, captained by Dessie Linus featured four players who  had or were currently playing with Salthill Devon, while the Vibrating Chickens were  made up of current & former Mervue United players, with Irish Junior International Noel  McDonnell their key player. 

The final was a contrast of styles with the “Chickens” holding the ball and playing a more  deliberate game, while the “Bagels” harried and broke quickly. The opening half was  even with both sides feeling the effect of the heat and their previous four games. Alan  O’ Boyle gave the Bagels the vital breakthrough, when he pounced on a loose ball and  drove a great shot past PJ Norman in the Chicken’s goal. Stephen Maguire showed great poise and quick feet three minutes later when he round the keeper and tapped in to put  the Bagels in a commanding lead. 

The Chickens did get a late goal through Rynal Browne, but the “Bagels” held on for  victory and were full value for that. 

Stephen Maguire was named Player of the tournament and the Fair Play award went to  the Vibrating Chickens. The under 13 tournament was captured by Mervue United,  beating Salthill Devon in a very good final game. 

2007 and the 31st renewal of the Carlsberg Fives threw up a fascinating a variety of good  football, great football, marvelous weather and monsoon conditions, at Salthill Park.  Triumphant in the end were a team with the interesting name of “Only here for the  Burgers” and while their name was bizarre their style and quality of play was not.

They  featured captain Frannie Carter, (ex Galway United) Billy Cleary, Galway United, Padraig  Lally ( Salthill Devon) Gareth Gorman ( Galway united) and Galway footballers Michael  Donnellan and Paul Clancy. In the Final they defeated “Joey’s Buzzers” managed by Rodney Grant and featuring Eric  Lavine ( Athlone Town) Tony Folan, Brain Griffin, (Hibs) Darren Roche (West United),  John Caldwell (West United), Rynal Browne ( Mervue), Eddie ‘Stumpy’ Ward (West  United) Frannie Carter scored the vital opening goal early in the second half of the final and this  knocked the heart out of the “Buzzers” who had much the tougher route to the final. 

Michael Donnellan wrapped up the proceedings with a neat finish in the final minutes  for a deserved victory Michael Donnellan was selected as Player of the Tournament, an award he thoroughly  deserved. He proved over the two days, in sometimes testing conditions, that he is truly  a thoroughbred athlete who adapted to the Fives game with ease and elegance. In a very entertaining under 13 final Corofin came from behind to overturn a much  fancied Hibs team and capture their first fives title. 


Bobbles 5 emerged victorious after an absorbing final over “Last Minutes Jobs” The “Bobbles” featured the Moran brothers, Barry, Jason and Mark, while schools internationals Ger Cheevers and Enda Dunne led the attack for the opposition.

“The “Last Minute Jobs” were drawn from Salthill Devon’s own successful youth squad,  and they turned in some masterful displays before finding one that little bit better.The early exchanges in the final were even, and while ‘last minute jobs were enjoying  the lion's share of possession, Bobble’s Mark Moran and Craig Thompson were rock  solid at the back. The battle between James Whelan and Barry Moran was also titanic at  the other end, but it was former Galway United player Moran which managed to wriggle  free and produce the winning goal midway through the second half. Although “Last  Minutes” swarmed forward and Enda Dunne had a tremendous block by Thompson, the  Bobbles held out for a deserved victory.

That vital strike also swung the Player of the Tournament award in his favour. Guest of  honour Rory Ginty, who selected the ‘Diarmuid Fadden’ player of the tournament,  indicated that Barry had just nudged out Enda Dunne for the award. This was the second  time that Barry Moran had been selected as the tournaments’ best player – surely a feat  that won’t be equaled. 

Few people in the throng at the park would have realised a poignant story was unfolding  for the Moran family as the tournament progressed. Mark and Barry Moran played on  the winning team in 2002 – they styled themselves as the Doncaster Donkeys at that  time. As Barry and Mark fought the good fight in the tournament, Barry’s twin Jason was  fighting a battle of his own in hospital recovering from a car crash. At that time when his  brothers brought the Fives trophy to the hospital, it seemed an impossible dream that  Jason would one day get to hold the trophy aloft as part of a winning team. That dream  was realised in Salthill Park on Sunday evening.  

Jason related this story at an emotionally charged prize giving on Sunday night, proving that good things can happen to good guys.

The “Last Minute Jobs” led by Enda Dunne oozed class through and showed what great potential they have as individuals and as a team. Eoin Duffy, James Whelan, Ray Winters, Gerry Golan, Ryan Mangan and Ger Cheevers.


Touched off in the previous year's final, The Salthill Innocent Boys came good on this  occasion when they beat “Tony Crowe and Martin Golden” a side that had been semi finalists on two previous occasions. 

The Salthill boys were outstanding throughout the tournament with a combination of  skill and fitness that is essential to winning the fives. They had the “Diarmuid Fadden”  player of the tournament tin Enda Dunne and they notched up another first when they  were also nominated by the referees for the “Ray Healy Fair Play award”.

Shane Flaherty’s side gave them a good run for their money in the final and Shane himself produced the goal of the tournament with virtually the last kick. That was only the second goal the winners conceded in two years of fives competition.

Salthill was the place to be on Saturday and Sunday as the natural amphitheatre that is  Salthill Park served up nonstop entertainment. The ’village’ was thronged for the Volvo  action but the throng stayed in the park and soaked up the sun and the football. Adding  to the pageantry was the appearance of Captain Morgan the larger than life character  who is the poster boy of the well-known rum.

2010 - 2012

2010; JP’s Foghorn beat the Better Bettors in a great final, with Brian Gaffney being  named the player of the tournament.  

2011; This year's winners were Big O Cabs (OLBC) and they saw off the challenge of The  Better Bettors in an pulsating final. It was to be a second consecutive heartbreak for the  'Bettors' Derek McWalter of the Better Bettors was selected as player of the Tournament by the  Fives special guest Seamus McGettigan, himself a winner in 1981. He was presented  with the Diarmuid Fadden memorial medal. 

2012; Victory in the end went to the Supernovas (Salthill Devon) who beat the  defending Champions Sportskit OLBC in the final. The final was a rip roaring game with  goals, hard tackles and a non-stop end to end rhythm that required super fit players to  survive. Supernova’s had that little bit more in the tank and two goals from Cian McBrien; his  second strike was selected as the goal of the tournament, and one from James Whelan. 

‘Boys Club’ did reply with a cracking goal from Shane Maughan. Maughan was  outstanding for the runners throughout the completion scoring some great goals. The special guest of the Fives, this year was Jumbo Brennan and he selected Evan Duffy,  goal keeper on the winning side as his Player of the Tournament – he was presented  with the Diarmuid Fadden memorial medal by Cáit Fadden, president of Salthill Devon. 

2013 & 2014

2013: Boca Seniors were the winners in 213, all Salthill Devon players and led by the  Player of the Tournament Jason Murphy. They beat Athlone town , managed by Fives  Legend Micky O'Connor, but apparently their participation did not go down well with  Roddy Collins who was manager of the LOI team at the time.

 2014: "The 38th Carlsberg Fives was played out over two days as usual in Salthill Park.  This year's renewal was won by "She Sell Seas Shells by the Seashore United who beat  Big O Taxi's in the final. Over 80 teams took to the field with all sides being guaranteed a  second chance if they lost in the opening round and this new format worked very well. 

2015 & 2016

2015: The names of teams have always been 'sent to try us' This year 'Smack the Pitch  Up' came out on top over Even Preston Kelly's 'Presto Land'. The rules last year allowed  a 'back door' option and Presto's men used that to the full, having lost they opening game. Eoin Roche was very popular selection as Player of the Tournament - selected by  the special guest Brendan O'Shaughnessy, for so long the 'Voice of the Fives'.

2016: It was Robbie Porter's 'Pubtalk' squad who prevailed over Shawn Gavin's  Supernovas who had the consolation of seeing their team mate Sean Keogh being named  player or the Tournament. Sean was presented with the Diarmuid Fadden Memorial  medal.