High hopes rested on this years U16 team having reached an All Ireland Feile final in 2008. Few however could have envisaged that they would win all their games before overcoming Miltown in a tight & tense county final in Cooraclare on May 3rd. This was achieved with the minimum of resources as only 21 players were available to Mike Riordan & his selectors all season. The size of our panel was used to our advantage as every opportunity was given to give players as much game time as possible.
After a shaky opening half against Doora Barefield, the Tones came back to win by 8 points. This victory was followed up with further wins against Kilrush, Eire Og, Cooraclare, Miltown, Kilmihil & Ennistymon. Having topped the group, we were now paired against Cooraclare in the semi final in Kilmihil. Our exploits to date had not gone unnoticed & a healthy crowd travelled from Shannon to the game. Cooraclare had a devastating start to lead us by 1-3 to 0-0 after 8 minutes. Point by point we got back into the game to lead 1-7 to 1-5 at half time. A brace of goals from Mikey Hasty early in the second half put us in the driving seat & the Tones won 5-10 to 1-8.
And so onto the final against our old friends Miltown. These teams had met in two recent Feile finals & knew each other well. The game was fixed for Cooraclare on the evening of the May Bank holiday. A large attendance from both camps made their way to the final. The team spent the day together & the form was good. It was Miltown who made the brighter start though & they kicked a couple of early points. Disaster then struck for David Murphy as he had to retire inhured after only 10 minutes. Finally Tones made the breakthrough when captain William Flynn soloed through to score a fine goal. Two more goals followed from Dylan Birchall & ‘Tuts’ & Tones led 3-3 to 0-3 at half time. Miltown never gave up though & point by point they clawed their way back into it. Both sets of supporters started to get excited as the tension began to mount. With the gap down to 2 points Tones missed a chance to score but from the kicked out, Jack Carrigs effort ended up in the back of the net. The relief was palpable & when Jack Kelly kicked his second point moments later the cup was on its way back to Shannon for only the fourth time on a final score of Wolfe Tones 4-4 Miltown 0-10. Wolfe Tones & county board officer Joe Kelly presented the cup to captain William Flynn who then led the cavalcade back to Shannon.
The two players grimace with effort as they chase the ball. Their faces are a study in concentration as each pull at the same time. There is a thud as bodies collide and a crack as hurleys clash. Mothers gasp, fathers smile approvingly, coaches roar encouragement from the sideline. The referee blows the final whistle, the players all ask 'whats the score?'. 'A draw'. Replay on Wednesday.
This is the scene at Wolfe Tones every Monday and Wednesday evening at their underage GAA academy. Designed to introduce young players to the game and to develop their skills, the Academy caters for boys between 4-10 years of age. There are three different training groups, U6, U8 and U10. Each group is run by its own dedicated qualified coaches and covers hurling and football. The skills of both games are practiced every evening and the sessions finish up with a match. It is well recognised within the club that the Academy is the first important stepping stone in player development. Indeed all of our recent Feile hurling winning team would have graduated from the Academy themselves.
The Academy is run by its own dedicated steering committee within the club structure. Chaired by Damien Regan, it also covers the provision of coaches to the local national schools. The coaches, Patsy Keyes, Barry Loughnane and Mark Regan, all prominent club players visit all schools weekly and oversee the coaching at Academy sessions. Brian Lohan and John Riordan then liaise with the schools and the coaches to ensure the smooth running of the programme and the equal promotion of the games.
This years version of the Academy began in early January in St. Caimins and attracted 50-60 children a night. When the weather improved we moved back to our own facility with U6's and U8's on the Astroturf and U10's on pitch 1. Numbers are up to 80 children a night now. These kids come from 8 local schools and many have no GAA background. And yet, after a couple of weeks they look like they have been playing the games all their lives. We are still on the lookout for more players though. So if you have never played before or haven't played for a while, don't worry. Just turn up and we will look after you. Mindful of the cost of equipment we have a limited supply of hurleys and helmets that can be used if you don't have any.
Our U8's and U10's play blitzes in both sports throughout the year against different clubs. This season started last weekend and continues on through the summer. We are working on getting all these fixtures up on our website. So check http://wolfetonesshannon.clare.gaa.ie/ for these and indeed all our fixtures and results.
An exciting development in the last week has been the establishment of a Ladies Academy Fundraising group. Led by Elaine Donnellan this group have been very active in a very short period of time. Thanks to Elaine, we can exclusively announce the hosting of a Wolfe Tones Fun Day on Sunday 5th June. Details are hush hush at the moment but I have been informed that there will be activities for babies, grannies and everyone inbetween. As soon as details are finalised we will let you know but until then just remember to keep the date in your diary.
Wolfe Tones Academy runs every Monday and Wednesday at the club grounds between 5.45 and 7pm. Note there is no Academy on Easter Monday 25th April.
5 times All Ireland champions plus runner up twice. Only club in the country to win 3 in a row titles. Double champions in the same year. All of the above describe some of Wolfe Tones achievements in the wonderful Feile U14 competitions in hurling and football.
In the last week, the 2011 versions of these competitions kicked off and Wolfe Tones were hopeful of a promising start to the campaigns. Football was up first with a trip to Lissycasey last Sunday. Here, the Tones had games against both the host club and Eire Og. Before the games, manager Matt O'Connor was quietly confident of qualifying from this group. This confidence was to prove justified. An impressive panel of 29 players plus 3 injured players proved far too strong for the opposition in both games. Eire Og were despatched on a 7-15 to 0-0 scoreline, while little more than an hour later the home club received a somewhat similiar defeat, Tones winning 4-12 to 1-2. All in all, a satisfactory mornings work. It should be noted that several of these players were training as early as the first week in January with county regional and district squads. Matt O'Connor was involved with these squads also and hopefully we are beginning to see the fruits of his labour being reaped. Next up is a quarter final appearance on April 10th against Kilmihil.
It was a busy week for these players as hurling and Pat Williams took over the reins. It was only 10 months since the club dressed herself up in all her finery for Feile na nGael 2010 and lots of good memories remained from that glorious weekend. How we would like to get a chance to travel to Galway for Feile na nGael 2011. First up though was the significant obstacle in the form of Kilmaley. The structure of the hurling Feile is straight knockout. Dissapointingly only 6 teams entered the competition and while the Tones got a bye to the semi final, Kilmaley had already knocked out Feakle-Killanena. Advantage so to Kilmaley. A blustery Clarecastle last friday was the venue. It was clear that whoever mastered the conditons would probably prevail and while Kilmaley led by 5 points at half time the clever hurlers on the ditch nodded knowingly to each other that it wouldn't be enough. And so it proved. An excellent team performance, garnished with 4 second half goals saw the club through to its first county Feile hurling final in far too long. The final score was Wolfe Tones 4-11 Kilmaley 1-9. There is no rest for this promising dual team as the county final is fixed for this friday April 8th. Clarecastle are the opponents and the Tones will be wary of them as the Magpies beat, perhaps surprisingly, Sixmilebridge in their semi final.
It is most important that these teams get as much support as possible, so please turn out if you can and hopefully you will hear the cavalcade shortly after 8pm next Friday passing your front door. For more information on these games and indeed all club matters please visit our website wolfetonesshannon.clare.gaa.ie. As soon as we know, you know!
Clare Under 14 A Hurling Final
Wolfe Tones 6-09
Wolfe Tones confirmed their dominance at under 14 hurling level when they deservingly completed a Feile and Championship double. The result was never in doubt especially as Jack Cunningham hit form again with 3-3 to secure the glorious double.
A blistering start by Wolfe Tones saw 1-2 on the scoreboard after eight minutes from Dean Devanney, Darragh McMahon and a disputed Brian Conway goal. Conor Ryan got Clarecastle off the mark but Wolfe Tones responded swiftly courtesy of Dean Devanney’s second score. Jack Murphy claimed the Magpies second point before disaster struck when Jack Cunningham scored 1-1 inside two minutes to open up a 2-4 to 0-2 half time lead.
Great build up play from Darren Crowe led to Conor Ryan scoring Clarecastle’s only goal of the game following points from Crowe and Cian Pettigrew. With 29 minutes action Cian Pettigrew set up Cunningham for his second goal to send Wolfe Tones 8pts clear.
At the interval the Feile champions held a comfortable 3-5 to 1-3 lead, the Magpies needed early scores to position themselves for a challenge in the final quarter.
After four minutes they managed a point from a free after smart build up play from Darren Crowe. This shook the Tones who replied with a goal from Brian O’Connor after Cian Pettigrew’s effort was well saved by Jake Kearney in the Clarecastle goal.
Seven minutes lapsed before the next salvo of scores. Jack Cunningham added 1-1, he was set up for the goal by Aaron Shanagher as Wolfe Tones stretched their lead to 15 points entering the final quarter and were also clocking up the wides for good measure.
Clarecastle tried as hard as one could expect with changes in personnel and positions but they failed to make any inroads as Shannon dominated the final third of the pitch.
The last goal of the hour came from Aaron Shanagher with five minutes remaining. Best for Wolfe Tones were Shanagher, Kevin Justice, Jack Cunningham, Cian Collopy, Dean Devanney, Cian Pettigrew, Darragh McMahon, Sean Costello and Brian O’Connor.
Clarecastle had good performances from Paul Dolan, Ronan Garvey, Kevin Hartigan, Ruairi Crimmins, Conor Ryan and Jake Kearney. After the game chairman of Bord na nÓg Iomaint Martin Reynolds presented the Under 14A championship trophy to Wolfe Tones captain Kevin Justice. Earlier in the year the chairman presented the Feile cup to the Wolfe Tones captain. Wolfe Tones will be hosted by Clarinbridge in Feile na nGael later in the month.
WOLFE TONES: Cian Collopy, Michael Hayes, Daniel Clair, Ross O’Connor, Robbie Meaney, Kevin Justice, Sean Costello, Darragh McMahon(0-1), Dean Devanney (0-2), Evan O’Gorman, Aaron Shanagher (1-1), Cian Pettigrew (0-2), Brian Conway (1-0), Jack Cunningham (3-3), Brian O’Connor (1-0). Subs: Conor Ferns for Conway, Shane Nihill for O’Connor, Eoghan Gough for O’Gorman,
CLARECASTLE: Jake Kearney, Kevin Hartigan, Darragh Crimmins, Fiachra Cooney, Josh Kelly, Paul Dolan, Hayden Starr, Ronan Garvey, Kevin Mulcair, Darren Crowe (0-2), Adam Cassidy, Ruairi Crimmins, Conor Ryan (1-1), Jack Murphy (0-1), Stephen Barry. Subs: Jack Hayes for Kelly Jordon Banes for Ryan, Mark McAuliffe for Barry, O’Hara for Murphy,
REFEREE: Neil O’Brien (O’Callaghans Mills).