Fantastic Days Hurling produces All Ireland Win

Post date: Sep 11, 2012 10:25:50 AM

The Magh Cuilinn decision to accept the invitation to attend the Ratoath All Ireland 11s proved a good one not only because of the silverware won but the competition gave our Senior players a workout better than two weeks training.

It was an early start on Saturday as players and mentors had to report to the Ratoath grounds at 9.30am. Although the early morning journey is now possible in a little over two hours, it was a tough opening for a long day's hurling.

Ratoath have excellent facilities with 3 full pitches, 4 spacious dressing rooms, a bar, plenty of parking for the 15 teams participating and an upstairs indoor training area. On arrival the large hall/dining area was serving breakfast rolls and the kitchen continued to serve hot food until 7.30pm.

As it turned out the draw meant that Magh Cuilinn were not in action until 11.20pm but it did mean they got to see all of their group opponents before playing. First item on the agenda was submitting the panel of 15 at final registration. With Robert Molloy unavailable through work from the original selection and always the possibility of a last minute withdrawal, Paul Burke, Tommy Newell and John Faherty travelled, while Sean Rossa McDermott cancelled his commitment that had originally made him unavailable. Managers Tom Faherty and Brid Noone had a tough call to make but Sean Rossa got the nod. Full marks to the other guys for their commitment to the club and for putting the 15 guys in under pressure to perform.

Each game lasted 10 mins each half with constant player exchange allowed using a baton transfer system. Magh Cuilinn's first game on the main pitch was against Commercials from Rathcoole in Dublin. The first sign of the form the team was in came when they posted a 7-12 to 1-1 in 20 minutes hurling. After a break of one game, CIMC had an equally facile victory against the other team in red, Knockbridge of Louth, 7-09 to 0-04. With a break of an hour to the next game, U8 coach did a shuttle run for bananas/Jaffa cakes while Eamonn Noone did the same for sport drinks. Matt Donohue and Seamus Conneely were already nursing strains and knocks so Elaine Darcy's (Kelly) moderate training and experience as a Physio was pressed into service to good effect. Michael Hurney had need of Frank Enright's first aid kit while Ken Fox reported that the various teams had now bought the entire stock of freeze spray from the three Ratoath pharmacies. Tommy, Paul and John were ensuring there were a constant supply of water in what was scorching heat. There was plenty of support too from the extended Darcy, Fox and Mannion families.

Magh Cuilinn started in their white set as their third round opponents, Knockaderry of Limerick, play in the traditional CIMC strip. Whether it was the long break, the easy early games or the green and white sash, Magh Cuilinn were immediately 1-3 to no score down to a Knockaderry side, playing their last game and needing a win to guarantee survival. They had proved difficult opponents to score against in all games and we struggled to claw two points back before halftime. A dogged second half produced no goals but scoring five points and restricting Knockderry to one meant a draw and the scores put up in earlier games ensured a quarter final spot.

Stung by the slight falter against Knockderry, Magh Cuilinn took on the 100% record of Celbridge of Kildare in the final group game. In a return to form, the team were never in trouble, winning

With the time now 2.45pm and a quarterfinal against Bunclody of Wexford scheduled for 3.30pm, management decided against the burgers, chips, mash and mushrooms lunch on offer for pasta salad from the local Supervalu. The quarter finals took place on the back pitches. Teams on the main pitch could use the dressing rooms to rest in the shade, but tents had been provided on the back pitch for the same purpose.

Although Bunclody scored the opening two points, two goals both from Chris Hurney including an audacious lob and a point seemed to put Magh Cuilinn in control. Bunclody struck back and scored two great goals in response. The teams exchanged points before halftime but 2-03 to 2-02 down CIMC knew they were in a match. It got more serious as Bunclody closed up shop and tacked on three points in the second half. Four points down with four minutes left it looked like an early evening.

As Magh Cuilinn now tried to carve out a goal, one of the better chances was saved and looked to be going for a 65 before Morgan Darcy diving one handed swing somehow steered the ball into the net. Lifted, the team pushed forward and Chris Hurney forced his way between two Bunclody players and scrambled the ball over the goal line. CIMC buoyed and Bunclody broken they added three more points to win by five points, 4-05 to 2-06.

Magh Cuilinn now faced an all Galway semifinal against Killimor who had won a challenge in Baile Doite the previous Sunday. Magh Cuilinn proved the more determined and Seamus Conneely's pace tormented a tired looking Killimor outfit. Qualification for the final was achieved on a 2-10 to 0-04 scoreline.

The final was against Clonkill of Westmeath. In the semifinal, the ability to score goals that Brendan Murtagh had shown against Galway in the Championship, saw five goals put paid to Kilconieron. Seamus Fox pointed out their tactic of crowding 3/4 forwards in the large square and various scenarios were discussed by the brains trust to counteract this. When quick points and two goals set the alarm bells ringing as discussed, Vinnie Faherty was dispatched to the defence to meet the aerial challenge. Once again, Magh Cuilinn looked have a mountain to climb but two goals just before halftime including an athletic bat home by Morgan Darcy from a Michael Hurney hand pass, pulled the game out of the fire. Seosamh O'Fatharta scored an inspirational point to go to halftime 2-05 to 2-02 in arrears but confident. An early point narrowed the gap and when Chris Hurney was hauled for a penalty, Eanna Noone did what Henry Shefflin didn't (thank God) and crashed the ball into the net to take the lead. Further points had Magh Cuilinn three ahead at one point but accurate free taking from the Westmeath marksman had Magh Cuilinn one point, 3-06 to 2-08 ahead going into the final minute. Eric Fox appeared to have an over hit pass out the wing under control with Vinnie Faherty waiting for a hand pass to clear. He was bundled over by the Westmeath attacker but no whistle sounded and the ball was lobbed into the empty net from acute angle. Two points down and seconds left. Morgan Darcy collected the puck out on the right, drove across the pitch to hand pass to Niall Mannion coming in from the left. Niall found some energy after 140 minutes of hurling to surge into the danger zone and finish into the net. There was no time for any more and jubilation reigned.

Christopher Hurney accepted the trophy on the pitch and after showering and finally availing of the burgers and mash, each of the players was presented with a statuette in the clubhouse. Robert Molloy was able to join the celebrations in The Bleeding Horse but we were hard pressed to think who of the magnificent 15 he could have displaced had he been available. They were Eric Fox, Matt Donohue, Barry Faherty, Mark Lydon, Seosamh O'Fatharta, Eanna Malone, Eanna Noone, Niall Mannion, Seamus Conneely, Vincent Faherty, Christopher Hurney, Morgan Darcy, Sean Rossa McDermott, Michael Hurney and Philip Lydon.

Thanks to the large backup team of Tom Faherty, Brid Noone, Frank Enright, Kenneth Fox, Paul Burke, Tommy Newell, John Faherty, Elaine Darcy, Eddie Moloney, Morgan Darcy Snr, David Kearns, Seamus Fox and Eamonn Noone

Thanks to the supporters: Walter "Boots" McDonagh; Niall Malone; the "Darcy's", Brid, Caroline, Marguerite (and Peter another poor fella whose maroon jersey is fading green), Paul and Mark; the "Foxes", Nonie, Mary and Carmel; Aileen Faherty; the Mannions, Angela, Colm and Claire and any others we failed to catch sight of.

Thanks also to Philip Lanigan, Mick Brazil and their colleagues in Ratoath, who ran a superbly organized event.

Everyone contributed to a great atmosphere and a great occasion and a great day for Moycullen.