2018 Celbridge All-Ireland Under-11 Hurling Tournament.

[ Monday, 2nd July 2018 ]

16 Brave Ballyboden Warriors braved the heat and some of the best teams from hurling strongholds such as Limerick, Waterford, Kilkenny, Tipperary, Cork, not to mention the best of Kildare, Dublin, Westmeath and Laois in the 2018 Celbridge All-Ireland Under-11 Hurling Tournament.

Ballyboden were drawn in a group with Ballyhale Shamrocks of Kilkenny, the great club of Shefflin and Reid among others, as well as Eire Og and Camross.

Our first match threw in at 10.30 between Ballyboden and Ballyhale. It was end to end stuff with no quarter asked or given. Our lads stood toe to toe with our illustrious opponents with our defence of Matthew Casey, Alan Gannon, Issac Barry, Evan McCabe, Conor Byrne and Jamie Mahon coming out on top. Conor Fitzgerald showed strength and skill to poach a great goal to put us in front. However, Ballyhale came roaring back into the match, and it was tit for tat for the remainder of the match. With the day hotting up nicely, a point down and a couple of minutes to go, up stepped Timmy Doyle to score a beautiful point off his left. Ballyboden had chances to win it, but, a draw seemed the fair result. Not a bad start against a team of Ballyhales pedigree. Up and running!

Next up was Eire Og. The sun was continuing to beat down, but, the warriors kept going. Again, there was nothing between the two teams with strong physical battles all over the pitch. Both teams were evenly balanced. Ballyboden got their noses in front and managed to stay that way until the end, running out 3 point winners with one of the highlights being the battling of Evan Brady and a bullet to the back of the net from Michael Phelan, not to mention lovely points from Luke Durkin and Hugo McCrystal among others.

The final group game came against another great hurling club, Camross from Laois. The physicality seemed to go up a notch along with the heat. We had a great first half, but, could not translate it onto the scoreboard. At half time, our lads were beginning to feel the heat, literally!. However, as we started the second half, we asked for one last effort. They did not let us down, we roared into the second half and were two points up, thanks to a great strike from Adam Boland. However, another twist was about to come, when a ball dropped in over the heads of our defence and the Camross forward scored a bullet into the top corner of the net. A goal which would have been worthy of Croke Park. A point down, with time running out. No panic. Marc Hayes won a free which he took himself and the sliother sailed over the bar. Another draw.

Undefeated in the group and onto the semi-finals. After a break for lunch, we ended up paired against Raharney. Like the group matches, the teams were very evenly matched. A lovely pointed free from an acute angle from James Norris left only a point in it at half time and with the wind at our backs for the second half, we felt we had every chance. With our fantastic goalkeeper, Rory O’Donoghue not just satisfied with pulling off two great saves, rained down ball to our forwards. We had lots of possession, however, Raharney had an equally outstanding full back who repelled everything we threw at them. They managed to get a couple of pointed frees in the second half to win narrowly.

Four matches, with no more than a single score between any of them, the coaching team of Jim, Colin and Ray aged about 20 years, but, went home full of pride and admiration for what the boys achieved today.

Thanks to Celbridge for their outstanding hospitality and a fantastic tournament.

The Warriors: Isaac Barry, Adam Boland, Evan Brady, Conor Byrne, Matthew Casey, Timmy Doyle, Luke Durkin, Conor Fitzgerald, ALan Gannon, Marc Hayes, Jamie Mahon, Evan McCabe, Hugo McCrystal, James Norris, Rory O’Donoghue and Michael Phelan