Castleknock Feile na nGael Div 1 Champions
Castleknock Feile na nGael Div 1 Champions
On Sunday 13th May another chapter was written in the short history of our club when our U14A hurlers won the Feile na NGael Division 1 title. It was a brilliant achievement by all players and mentors Nick Boland,John Kilkenny,Ruairi O’Dulaing and coaches Maurice O’Shaughnessy and Robert Tierney.Below Ruairi sets out the events of the weekend…
Full Squad: Conor O’Reilly,Graham Hannigan,Conor Prunty,Ronan Prunty,Ray McDermott,Ross Mullins,Ian Cleary,Ciaran Kilkenny,Shane Boland,Kevin Kindlon,Eoghan Quinn,Jack Kiernan,Cian O’Dulaing,John Conroy,Shane Butler,Eoin Conway,Gareth O’Hara,Stephen Donaldson,Shane Maher,Eoghan Baker,Andrew Hughes,Brian Hughes,Niall O’Callaghan,Jack O’Neill
Match 1. Castleknock 3.09; St. Bridgets 0.03
Porterstown was the host venue for Division 1 Group B of Féile. With St. Bridgets already having lost to Kilmacud Crokes, their next match was to be against the much fancied Castleknock hurlers. The Castleknock team were very aware before the match that Bridgets needed a win to stay in the competition, and they would come out with all guns blazing. It was the hosts though who were blazing from the first whistle, and by the time that Ciarán Kilkenny had scored his first point of the competition, and Shane Butler flicked in a goal past the Bridget’s keeper, the result looked not to be in doubt.
The hurling was strong and robust at times, only to be expected in a local derby. Ross Mullins was typically busy in defence, and the forwards received plenty of quality ball due to the strength of Ray McDermott Ian Cleary, and Gareth O’Hara.
Eoin Conway, and Ciarán Kilkenny added two more scores, before Shane Boland took another fine point from a free. Typically, John Conroy was a constant source of danger and panic to the defence, and he too found the net before halftime, leaving the halftime score at 2.04 to 0.01.
The second half continued much as the first, the highlight of the half being a long range shot from Ross Mullins at Centre back that landed in the net. There followed a large number of Castleknock substitutions, giving everyone a chance to get a run out, Stephen Donaldson being particularly effective given the robust nature of some of the exchanges. Further points were added by Ciarán Kilkenny (2), Shane Boland (2), and Eoghan Quinn (1) which left the final score at 3.09 to 0.03.
Match 2. Castleknock 0.07; Kilmacud Crokes 0.07
As the scoreline suggests a very tight affair with much fine play in the middle of the field, and some very fine defence on both sides. The quality of both defensive displays was evident in the halftime score by which Castleknock led with the slenderest of margins by 3 points to 2. Only one of these points was scored by Ciarán Kilkenny from open play. It was obvious though, that this match could go either way given that both were fine hurling teams.
Castleknock went into the second half grimly determined, as they knew that victory guaranteed them a home semi-final against either Ballyboden or Lucan Sarsfields. The endless running of Shane Maher helped in no small way in this.
The next twenty minutes was hell for leather with the stingy defences again dominating. Young Niall O’Callaghan made an impressive debut into the competition, and scored a vital point to open the Castleknock account in the second half. This match was not for the faint hearted or the squeamish, and Connor O’Reilly proved that he is neither by calmly saving and clearing his lines whenever required. His calmness is not surprising considering the solidity of his full back line of Graham Hannigan, Connor, and Ronan Prunty. Shane Boland too excelled in the captains role at midfield, consistently drove the team forward, and scored two fine points of his own. Matters did become heated towards the end of the match, with one particular clash of helmets resulting in a Kilmacud player being sent off.
The game ended in a draw, and to be fair it could have gone either way. At that stage there was some discussion as to the implications the result had for the semi-final match locations. The matter was quickly settled by the referee in consultation with Co-ordinator Vinny Conway. Rule 16 was invoked, and due to a superior score difference over the two matches, Castleknock retained the home venue for the semi-final.
We gradually left the field and made for the hospitality tent set up superbly by Eamonn Connor and Vinnie Conway in Porterstown for the day. I should at this stage pay tribute to the families of the players who provided the wonderful sandwiches and other delicacies for all present. This contributed in no small way to the great spirit and atmosphere down in Porterstown, and although our visitors may not have been overjoyed at the results of the games, they certainly had nothing but praise for the hospitality they were shown. A special thanks also to the providers of the egg sandwiches, this writer will be forever in your debt.
Semi-Final – Castleknock 1.09; Lucan Sarsfields 0.08
We knew this match was going to be close and competitive, having had a narrow encounter this fine team earlier in the season. This was our first knock out match, and with it came the first knock out performance from Jack Kiernan. This was the match where the entire team clicked into gear, and the forwards began to dominate. The skill level of the Castleknock players was very much in evidence much to the delight of Coach Robert Tierney, and the long winter spent in the semi-darkness of the Phoenix Park honing the stick-work.
Ciarán Kilkenny was responsible for 1.01 of the first half score, with a particularly important goal blindingly well taken just before the halftime whistle. The masterful Ian Cleary and Ross Mullins also scored a point each, while the afore mentioned Jack Kiernan topped off his own great display with a point of his own. Masters of the first touch, Castleknock went into half time with a good lead of 1.05 to 0.03.
Lucan, though were not finished yet, and they came on the attack straight after halftime, scoring a couple of excellent points. John Conroy was busy as usual terrorising the defence, and creating scoring chances. One such chance was taken very well by Cian Ó Dúlaing on the left wing with help from the sniping Andrew Hughes. Conroy followed up with a fine point of his own, before the bizarre incident of the disallowed goal. The less said about that the better.
The team rallied at this point, and shut out a tense semi-final in fine fashion with yet another two fine points from Ciarán.
The final whistle, and Castleknock had reached the 2007 Dublin Féile final.
The Final – Castleknock 1.08; Ballyboden 3.01
The team arrived early and set up in the dressing room. There was not much conversation or banter at this stage, the memories of the football final still too close for comfort. This time we were the favourites, we had beaten Ballyboden in Championship finals at under 13 and under 12, surely we could do that again? Nick Boland as ever unflappable went into deep conversation with Maurice and Robert over team selection, Parnell Park is a big wide pitch, and there was a swirling breeze blowing down into the corner. Nothing was to be left to chance.
We knew that we had hit the big time though because now we actually had the use of a dressing room and a physio! John Coyle had been with us since the first match on Saturday morning, and his presence, professionalism and encouragement was of huge benefit to the lads. Whereas in the past they would have had a bottle of water poured over their head/leg/hand etc. and told to get on with it, now we had a man with a bag who they didn’t know, and who they would in fact listen to. John talked to them about their diet and the need for rest in between matches, he also told them about the magical restorative powers of the cold bath. John set up his table in the middle of the dressing room and doled out rubs and wisdom where they were needed.
John Kilkenny had taken responsibility for the sticks, and had overseen that running repairs required to various hurleys throughout the tournament, today they were all named and numbered and sorted with military precision, the magic bottle of powder was never far away. We had volunteer waterboys, nominated linesmen if required, the huge crowd were assembling in the stand, the Division 2 final had just finished, there was no more preparation, there was no more to be said, it was time for the hurling to be expressed.
The game started well for us, Ciarán was in great form, and produced the first point of the final. The first half of this match was the best period of hurling produced in the competition so far. We hurled when we needed to, passed well, and created plenty of chances.
Ross Mullins was outstanding in defence clearing everything that came his way, and with the rest of the defence ensured that Ballyboden only produced two scores in the first half.
The forwards played well as a unit, with John Conroy causing havoc in the Ballyboden defence, before grabbing a high ball and burying the ball in the net. The Ballyboden defence had also give away a couple of frees, which were punished by Ciarán from all distances, indeed in the first half alone, the prolific Kilkenny scored five points in total, two from frees, one from a 65, and one from play. Both Eoin Conway and Ian Cleary marked fantastic returns from injury with tenacious and skilful performances.
Tribute is also due to the “twinners” Brian and Andrew Hughes, who have stepped up onto this team, and who have more than justified their places with their speed, skill and bravery, sometimes in the face of fellas twice their height. This was capped in the first half of the final by a fine and vital point from the stick of Andrew in the corner. The first half ended with another point from the ubiquitous Ciarán.
A word of mention too for Connor O’Reilly in goal, one of the best stickmen on the team, who has practiced and trained as long and hard as anyone, and who played the entire weekend with a serious rib injury sustained in training, who never complained, got on with the job, and saved our bacon more than once.
Halftime in the final then and the score was an impressive 1.06 to 1.01. Things were looking good enough, but Ballyboden were not in any way finished yet.
The second half was a tight and cagey affair. Ray McDermott coped well with the pressure, his first touch was flawless, Ross Mullins was immense, clearing long balls all day, fighting harrying and hassling without pausing for breath, indeed he pushed Ciarán close for his man-of-the-match title.
Ballyboden though, had the goal in their sights, and soon found the net again, the game was well and truly on, the adrenaline was pumping, the crowd was in full voice, Nick and John were marshalling the troops, Maurice was sprinting up and down the line like a demented Cork greyhound, Robert shouted encouragement, we all roared them on. Jack Kiernan stepped into the breech, took responsibility and struck a lovely point. There was now only a goal in it. Unfortunately for us it was Ballyboden who fought back and got the goal. Now it was a drawn match.
Kevin Kindlon was withdrawn, having run himself and his marker into oblivion, Cian Ó Dúlaing came in. Shane Boland was there all through, and his leadership and toughness came through in the final part of the match. Indeed it was now more than ever that the team played together as a team, and for each other on the pitch.
Into the middle of this tense and fraught situation strode one Eoghain Quinn, centre forward, and now when great a great score was needed, a great player was there to provide it. Castleknock were back in the lead, and watches were frantically checked and rechecked. Ballyboden went back on the attack, the defence stood firm, no quarter given, no frees given away. Graham Hannigan and Eoghan Baker played their parts in this.
On the far side of the pitch, approximately 4 minutes over time the final whistle blew on this epic weekend, and Castleknock were celebrating as the new Dublin Division 1 Hurling Féile champions.