Last night in Croke Park, Kilkenny and Limerick played hurling in a way
that excites your soul. It was hard hitting, full of blocks and hooks and
was non stop for 81 minutes in total.

Yesterday in our club, the exact same skills were on display between 12pm
and 3.30pm. In total, when all the games are combined, 4 hours and 45
minute took place; over 110 players took part from 6 clubs. Every inch of
the fields were in use. The club was alive.

Our lads were in group 1, playing Oliver Plunketts Eoghan Ruadh in the
first game. We got the win, but it must be said that we were very luck, as
Plunketts were on top for the majority of the second half but just couldn’t
get the ball over the bar.

Our second game was against Ballygalget from Co. Down. We were on top in
the first half but were struggling against their puck outs. Their goalie
was exceptional at drilling the ball to their constantly moving outfield
players. Our entire halftime team talk was just on trying to stop this,
which we did and our pressure moving forward in the second half got us the
win. This meant we knew we had topped our group going into the final bonus
game against Ballycastle and didn’t need to win this game.

Ballycastle had also won both of their games in group 2, so they also knew
they were into the semi finals as group winners. This ensured that the
bonus game between O’Toole’s and Ballycastle was a bit of a sparing match,
with both sets of coaches quiet relax about the game, which was played at a
leisurely pace. Ballycastle winning it in the end.

The semi finals pairings were
Ballycastle v Oliver Plunketts Eoghan Ruadh; and
O’Tooles v Ardclough

The 12s had to work themselves into the ground to get the win here.
Ardclough were physically very strong and pushed the lads and our goalie,
Troy Smith, to the final whistle but we got over the line and had to face
Ballycastle, who beat Plunketts in the other semi final.

After the shadow boxing that went on in the bonus game, no body really knew
how the final was going to go.

Ballycastle had a couple of man giants up the middle, but these giants were
also exceptionally talented hurlers. Our lead coach for the day, Mr. Keith
Wilson, formulated his strategy around keeping these lads as quite as
possible by man marking them and letting the rest of our players hurl away.
He also doubled down on our team’s best qualities throughout the
tournament, our hooking, our blocking, and relentless pursuit for the ball.

From the throw in, the excitement was fantastic in an end to end game.
Scott Cassidy Walker taking some lovely pints, Shane Finlay putting his
body on the line on a number of occasions and the Wilson brothers, Sean and
Conor tag teaming the brilliant Conor Donnelly of Ballycastle on serval
occasions, coining the phrase, “Wilson that player “. Our flicks and stick
work won the game which brought joy to the coach as we spend a lot of time
on it in training.

This was a great display of hurling that would not have happened if it
wasn’t for Damian Elliott who sorted every aspect of the tournament. He
would like to thank the five clubs for travelling, Ardclough, Kilmacud
Crokes, Ballycastle, Ballygalget and Oliver Plunketts Eoghan Ruadh; the
refs that jumped in last minute; the Parents for their sambo’s; Christy and
the groundsmen for sorting the fields; the coaches for taking part in the
tournament in the right spirit; and Farrell Hurls for sponsoring the
tournament.

As part of the tournament, two players were selected by the refs as players
of the tournament, these were the brilliant Conor Donnelly of Ballycastle
and our own Sean Wilson both winning a new stick from Farrells.

Sean, who is still under 11 was everywhere yesterday, cover every inch of
grass; he was the team leader for the entire day and well deserved his
award.

This tournament ended what was an unbelievable month of hurling for the
10s, 11s and 12s. We entered the U11 Camaint, u12 camaint, a hurling
tournament in Erins Isle and our own tournament yesterday. Some players
played every tournament meaning they played 10 blitzes over 4 weeks. Two
sets of brothers particularly stand out in my mind, the Dowds and the
Smiths, all 4 lads showing massive improvement just from constantly
playing, no training, just matches.

That’s July over, a two week rest for all involved before we start back at
it again in mid August.

Up the Larriers.