Posts Tagged ‘Aidan Walsh’

Still Ticking Away – Kevin Downes

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

First off, congratulations to Aidan Walsh on winning this year’s Bord Gáis Energy

Breaking Through Player of the Year.  

Aidan was superb in this year’s Munster final, scoring eight points, including that fantastic last minute equaliser. He was up against players of serious talent but I don’t think anyone can begrudge Walsh. He is a fantastic player and hopefully hurling fans will be seeing more of him in the future.

A big congratulations is also due to to Bord Gáis Energy U-21 Hurling ambassadors, past and present, Liam Rushe, Paul Murphy, Richie Hogan and Padraic Maher, who were this week named in the 2011 GAA Hurling All-Stars. The four lads are fantastic players and worthy winners.

This week I have asked Limerick’s Kevin Downes to write a blog on his season just gone.


Kevin had an eventful year with both the Limerick senior side and the U-21s including that fantastic Munster Championship win. It will be interesting hearing Kevin’s outlook on Limerick hurling at the moment which is certainly going in the right direction.

I’ll leave you in his capable hands, 


There hasn’t been much time to dwell on either the Bord Gáis Energy U-21 Championship or the Senior Championship over the past couple of months, as I have been ticking away with my club Na Piarsaigh and that has also gone pretty well with us winning a county title!

Thankfully my hand injury cleared up and after losing two County Championship finals in a row, it was great to finally get a winners medal. We are now in the mix for the Munster Championship so fingers crossed my season won’t be finishing any time soon.

I suppose looking back on the county season; it was somewhat of a mixed bag. The Senior Championship started off with the disappointment of that one point loss against Waterford but we managed to get it together and pulled off good wins against Wexford and Antrim before losing to Dublin in the All-Ireland quarter-final.

With a bit of luck on the day, I believe we could have beaten both Dublin and Waterford. We learnt a lot about ourselves this season, especially following the losses so I have no doubt we will come back even better next year. This Limerick team is young and full of up and coming talent, so I think we will take great confidence from this year’s Championship as we look to push on and improve next season.

Obviously there has been quite a bit of change off the pitch over the past while. It was disappointing losing Dónal O’Grady. We knew he was only in the job for the year but I think everyone was hoping he would stay on. In saying that John Allen who is coming in is a brilliant manager and I have no doubt he’ll do well in bringing this team forward.

As for the Bord Gáis Energy Championship, winning the U-21 Munster Championship was definitely the highlight of the year. It was a cracking game of hurling and to come out the right side of such a close game is fantastic for Limerick hurling and something the players will always remember.

Unfortunately, we went on to lose against Galway in the All-Ireland semi-final by two points which was a huge blow. We were full of confidence going into the game following the Munster final win but it just wasn’t to be on the day. They say you make your own luck in hurling, so I guess there is plenty of work still to be done.

Thankfully, there is a large number of last year’s team that will be eligible for next season so hopefully we can push on and stake a claim for the Cross of Cashel.

Until then, I’m looking forward to getting stuck into this Munster Championship with Na Piarsaigh and keeping our run going as long as possible.

Hopefully I’ll chat to you all again next season,


Cork’s Aidan Walsh Crowned Bord Gáis Energy Breaking Through Player of the Year

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

Cork’s Aidan Walsh has been selected as the Bord Gáis Energy Breaking Through Player of the Year for 2011 and today, in Cork, accepted his award of a specially commissioned trophy, plus a voucher for €1,000 courtesy of Bord Gáis Energy.

The dual star from Kanturk was picked from a shortlist of seven that included Galway trio Niall O’Donoghue, Niall Burke and Barry Daly who all played a pivotal role in helping Galway lift the Cross of Cashel trophy for the first time since 2007.

Also in the running for the award were Dublin captain Liam Rushe who led his team to the All-Ireland Final and Limerick duo Shane Dowling and Declan Hannon who picked up provincial medals in a hugely positive year for hurling in the Treaty County.

However Walsh’s outstanding performances throughout the Bord Gáis Energy U-21 Munster Hurling Championship were without doubt stand out moments for the Rebel faithful. His haul of eight points against Limerick in the Munster Final was one of the finest individual performances witnessed throughout the 2011 GAA year.

Playing at wing forward, the CIT student exerted his aerial prowess to great effect and scored all eight points from play including an incredible long range effort in the dying seconds to send the game into extra time. Unfortunately for the 2010 Young Footballer of the Year it wasn’t to be, as Limerick ran out by two points to claim the Munster title.

However, it was not just one performance that made him stand out. Walsh also performed brilliantly in a thrilling Munster Semi-Final victory over the reigning All-Ireland U-21 champions Tipperary where his tally of 1-1 helped overturn and dethrone the Premier County.

Ger Cunningham, Bord Gáis Energy Sport Sponsorship Manager said, “The 2011 Bord Gáis Energy GAA Hurling U-21 Championship has been one of the most competitive in recent years. The quality and skill on show meant that it was going to be very tough to single out one player. However, Aidan was immense for Cork in their Munster championship campaign. His performance in the Munster Final was one of the best individual performances I have ever witnessed.

“With players of the calibre of Aidan coming through hopefully Cork will be back challenging for All-Ireland glory before long. Aidan is a prized possession and his dual star qualities are evident in the fact that he won the 2010 Young Footballer of the Year.

“Following on from Darach Honan and Seamus Hennessy, this is the third year of the Bord Gáis Energy Breaking Through Player of the Year Award and while hurling is a team sport, there is always room for individual honours and we feel that this award is a reflection on one player’s year and hopefully an indicator of great things to come from them.”

On receiving the award, Aidan said, “I am delighted to accept this award, especially considering the talent I was up against and I would like to congratulate the other lads for their own achievements this year.

“Unfortunately we were undone in the Munster Final against a very talented Limerick side and we felt we maybe should have won that match but it wasn’t to be. There is a huge amount of work going into Cork hurling at underage levels and I’m sure we will be winning All-Irelands at all age groups before long. I’m very honoured to be accepting this award and would like to thank all involved in the selection process.”

The selection panel was completed by Bord Gáis Energy Sport Sponsorship Manager, Ger Cunningham, RTÉ’s Marty Morrissey, Micheál Ó Domhnaill of TG4, U-21 All-Ireland winner Joe Canning and former Waterford great Ken McGrath.

Shortlist of Nominations for Bord Gáis Energy Breaking Through Player of the Year

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

Panel to select one from shortlist of seven players who starred in the Bord Gáis Energy GAA Hurling U-21 Championship

Galway’s march to claim the title of Bord Gáis Energy GAA Hurling U-21 All-Ireland Champions has seen the Tribesmen yield three nominations for the Breaking Through Player of the Year award, trio Niall O’Donoghue, Niall Burke and team captain Barry Daly. Also shortlisted for the award are Limerick duo Shane Dowling and Declan Hannon, with Aidan Walsh of Cork and Bord Gáis Energy Ambassador and Dublin captain Liam Rushe completing the list of contenders for the honour.

The Breaking Through Player of the Year award recognises the overall stand out player of the 2011 Championship. A panel made up of Bord Gáis Energy Sport Sponsorship Manager and newly appointed Cork selector, Ger Cunningham, RTÉ’s Marty Morrissey, Micheál O Domhnaill of TG4, U-21 All-Ireland winner Joe Canning and former Waterford great Ken McGrath will deliberate on a winner from the seven nominees. The winning player will receive a trophy and voucher worth €1000 to mark his achievement.

Speaking about the award, Ger Cunningham said, “Bord Gáis Energy is delighted to be able to recognise the talent of our U-21 hurlers with the Breaking Through Player of the Year Award and, once again this year, a group of outstanding players has been nominated for the award. This year’s Championship has produced hurling at the very highest of standards, generating plenty of thrilling clashes. Whoever the judging panel eventually picks as the winner will thoroughly deserve it.”

Unsurprisingly, All-Ireland Champions Galway dominate the list of nominees. Niall O’Donoghue, Niall Burke and team captain Barry Daly were all instrumental in seeing the Westerners push one step further this year by defeating Limerick and Dublin en route to lifting the Cross of Cashel.

Although Limerick were edged out in an exhilarating All-Ireland Semi Final against eventual winners Galway, the Shannonsiders captured their first Munster title since 2002 against Cork after extra time in a match that will be long-remembered in the minds of many. Two players to impress the judges throughout their championship campaign were Declan Hannon, scoring 1-4 in that Munster decider, and Shane Dowling who finished the 2011 championship with 2-16 to his credit.

Another star of the Munster Final to make this year’s shortlist was Cork dual star Aidan Walsh. The Kanturk clubman scored 1-1 against 2010 All-Ireland winners Tipperary and was monumental against Limerick, scoring eight points from play in what was one of the finest individual displays of the year.

Walsh’s fellow nominee Liam Rushe was immense for Dublin throughout their championship run to the All-Ireland Final. The Bord Gáis Energy Ambassador put in a fitting leader’s performance in their Leinster Final victory against Wexford, collecting the man of the match accolade, and had a fine year operating between centre forward and centre back.

The winner will be announced in the coming weeks.

Bord Gáis Energy Breaking Through Player of the Year Shortlist:
Liam Rushe (Dublin)
Barry Daly (Galway)
Niall O’Donoghue (Galway)
Aidan Walsh (Cork)
Shane Dowling (Limerick)
Declan Hannon (Limerick)
Niall Burke (Galway)

Extra special win for Limerick

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

IT TOOK more than 80 minutes of spellbinding action before Limerick grasped the provincial U21 hurling trophy for the sixth time after a sensational Bord Gáis Energy Munster decider before 8,536 supporters in the Gaelic Grounds last night.

A Declan Hannon goal in the 74th minute after a wonderful run by Graeme Mulcahy to create the opportunity was the critical strike in inserting daylight between these sides. Despite Cork’s best efforts to scramble level in a frantic finish, Limerick staved off their challenge to spark riotous scenes of celebration at the final whistle.

In a game that throbbed with excitement, this was the latest classic for an U21 hurling catalogue that is already stacked with thrillers. Normal time concluded in a blaze of drama when Aidan Walsh brought the sides level in the 62nd minute at 1-20 to 3-14 after he landed a monster effort. Any fears that Walsh would be suffering from the hangover of last Sunday’s disappointment with the Cork senior footballers were erased and he began like a man possessed. Limerick had no answer to his aerial prowess in the first half and his shooting was superb as well, landing five points from play. He finished up with 0-8 and it was rough justice for him to be on the losing team.

However Limerick’s ability to plunder goals on the night underpinned their victory. The four green flags they raised all came at opportune stages. Mulcahy’s shot to the net after only 19 seconds was an ideal tonic to settle the pre-game nerves of the Treaty men. Then after trailing 0-12 to 1-7 at the break, they shot 2-3 in a five-minute spell early in the second half. Mulcahy and Seanie O’Brien bagged the goals with splendidly skilful finishes while the influence of Declan Hannon became more pronounced as the game progressed.

It was not just a night for their offensive stars, however. Corner-back Alan Dempsey was terrific throughout, Pat Begley looks set to slip into the number three senior jersey in the near future while Conor Allis was an energetic force at midfield.

Defeat was a devastating blow for Cork as they appeared to have set themselves on course for victory in extra-time. The sublime play of Walsh and Conor Lehane had propelled them into an interval advantage, and after being rocked by Limerick’s powerful early second-half showing, they responded impressively. Full-back Damien Cahalane was magnificent, nullifying the challenge of danger man Kevin Downes, while James Nagle was to the fore at half-back.

The critical score that underlined Cork’s second-half revival was a 48th minute goal from Luke O’Farrell, when he showed great athleticism to make a superb catch and rifle a fierce shot to the net. That trimmed the gap to 3-11 to 1-15 and while Limerick went two points ahead near the finish, Jamie Coughlan cut the margin to one before he landed an incredible effort to tie the game.

The opening period of extra-time was all about Coughlan, who finished with 0-10 to his name. By the 70th minute he had helped shoot Cork into a 1-26 to 3-17 lead and success appeared imminent. But Limerick were resilient and they only conceded one point in the closing stages of extra-time, with Aaron Murphy making an important block from an O’Farrell goal effort before Hannon pounced for that fourth goal which spurred Limerick onto their first U21 crown since 2002.

Scorers for Limerick: G Mulcahy 2-1, S Dowling 0-7 (0-6f), D Hannon 1-4, C Allis 0-4 (0-1f), M Carmody 0-3, S O’Brien 1-0, K Downes 0-1.

Scorers for Cork: J Coughlan 0-10 (0-5f, 0-1 ‘65), A Walsh 0-8, L O’Farrell 1-2, C Lehane 0-3, D Brosnan, M O’Sullivan, D Drake (0-1 sideline), S O’Brien 0-1 each.

LIMERICK: A Murphy; A Dempsey, P Begley, S O’Reilly; C McNamara, C Hayes, T O’Callaghan; C Allis, S O’Brien; S Dowling, D Hannon, N Kennedy; M Ryan, K Downes, G Mulcahy.

Subs: J O’Brien for McNamara (15), M Carmody for Ryan (half-time), B O’Connell for Begley (blood) (48), Begley for O’Connell (50), A Breen for O’Brien (56), S Madden for Mulcahy (59), B Cleary for O’Reilly (60), Mulcahy for Madden (60), B O’Connell for O’Callaghan (68), S O’Brien for Breen (70).

CORK: D McCarthy; C Joyce, D Cahalane, S Corry; J Nagle, W Egan, M Ellis; S O’Farrell, D Roche; D Brosnan, M O’Sullivan, A Walsh; L O’Farrell, C Lehane, J Coughlan.

Subs: P Honohan for Ellis (half-time), D Drake for Brosnan (38), B Withers for Corry (40), S O’Brien for S O’Farrell (43), P Haughney for Lehane (54), Lehane for Haughney (66), Brosnan for O’Sullivan (74).

Referee: Pat Casey (Waterford)

Treaty bask in final victory

AN ecstatic Limerick manager Leo O’Connor paid tribute to everyone in the county who had contributed in developing the side that delivered last night’s epic extra-time Munster U21 hurling final triumph in the Gaelic Grounds.

“It was heart-stopping stuff but it’s absolutely tremendous. We live for nights like tonight and this is a great night for Limerick hurling. This didn’t happen just tonight. It is a credit really to people like Tony Roche who have looked after development squads over the last number of years. So many other individuals like Shane Fitzgibbon, Frankie Carroll, Mike Galligan, John Kiely and Pat Donnelly have worked so hard over the last few years for this.”

“We took our chances but we definitely missed a few other chances to score some as well. We said to the lads at half-time of extra-time when we were three points down that we’d ten minutes left and to give it everything. That’s what we did and that’s why we are where we are. But we’ve got to get fellas feet back on the ground and get them thinking about the All-Ireland semi-final and thinking about working again.”

Cork boss Ger Fitzgerald said; “We had chances and maybe when we got the goal chances, we could have hit points to keep the thing ticking over. But that’s the nature of it and credit Limerick.”

Awesome Rebel Firepower

Monday, July 18th, 2011

Cork 4-19 Tipperary 1-21
By Fintan O’Toole
Saturday, July 16, 2011

Recent meetings against Tipperary in the U21 grade have been painful experiences for Cork with extra-time defeats in the last two years but the memories of those clashes were erased courtesy of a powerful winning performance in last night’s Bord Gáis Energy Munster U21HC semi-final in Semple Stadium.

This match had assumed extra significance given Cork’s hurling travails at other levels this season and the U21 team delivered a timely success. The latest offering maintained the theme of pulsating encounters between the counties at underage level in recent seasons but in a game that produced 45 scores in 60 minutes of play, Cork’s greater potency up front was key in front of 4,629 patrons.

“We’re very pleased and it was a hugely satisfying performance,” admitted Cork manager Ger Fitzgerald. “We got a fabulous start but they came back at us as. Goals were the key for us tonight and our men inside had the courage to take on the defenders to go for goals. But we have to keep our feet on the ground now and realise that we’ve nothing won. We’ve to play the winners of Clare and Limerick now, and that’ll be very difficult.”

Luke O’Farrell was in dazzling form in the opening stages and he unleashed a bullet to the top corner of the net in the fifth minute, after Christopher Joyce had made a brilliant block in defence to kickstart the move.

Dean Brosnan fired home the second in the 23rd minute with a rasping shot that came back off the stanchion and that was a reward for his promising endeavours. Conor Lehane bundled home the third in the 36th minute and that exemplified the greater impact the Midleton youngster made in the second half, as he benefited from a switch to full-forward before the break.

The final goal was registered by Aidan Walsh, a sublime finish in the 46th minute, and he had a storming second half as Tipperary found it impossible to halt his dominance in the aerial exchanges. Cork’s remaining forwards also shone, with Michael O’Sullivan playing an important role in helping to stymie the influence exerted by Noel McGrath while Jamie Coughlan weighed in with a 0-5 haul.

Tipperary were unable to build on their quarter-final win over Waterford yet their recovery from a disastrous start had seemingly placed them right in contention. Cork’s early play was electric as they sprinted into a 1-7 to 0-1 lead by the ninth minute but remarkably Tipperary had whittled away that advantage within 10 minutes.

They never panicked and their corner-forward John O’Dwyer displayed superb accuracy from placed balls. Tipperary’s tactic of direct ball into Brian O’Meara paid off handsomely in the 15th minute when he grabbed a delivery by Kieran Morris and lashed a shot to the roof of the net. Brosnan’s goal afforded Cork some breathing space in the face of that Tipperary onslaught yet the game was delicately balanced as Cork lead 2-10 to 1-12 at the break.

Before the teams headed for the dressing rooms Fitzgerald expressed his displeasure to referee Michael Wadding at his first-half officiating and there was legitimacy to his complaints with the final free count standing 18-5 in Tipperary’s favour.

“I was unhappy,” revealed the Cork manager. “I just wanted to make the point that I felt they were getting frees a little easier. It didn’t improve in the second half so obviously what I said didn’t work but that’s the way it is.”

Tipperary made the brighter start to the second half as they outscored Cork 0-6 to 1-2 in the third quarter. Yet critically Cork tightened up in defence with substitute Damien Cahalane exerting a steadying influence, Joyce continuing to impress and captain William Egan leading the way. Goalkeeper Darren McCarthy made a vital save in the third quarter from O’Dwyer and was also alert to clear his lines as Morris stole in on goal.

At the other end Tipperary were struggling as their full-back line was placed under immense pressure while McCarthy’s puckouts repeatedly found the hand of Walsh at left half-forward. The Kanturk man’s goal opened the floodgates and in the closing exchanges Lehane and Coughlan split the posts with a succession of classy scores. Midfielder Adrian Ryan hit some good points for Tipperary yet they were unable to make real headway and the late switch of Noel McGrath to attack failed to alter the course of the game. Cork registered 1-7 in the final quarter while only conceding 0-3 and the strength of that finish propelled them to a place in the final on August 3.

Scorers for Cork: C Lehane 1-4, L O’Farrell 1-3, D Brosnan 1-2, A Walsh 1-1, J Coughlan 0-5 (0-2f), M O’Sullivan 0-2, W Egan (0-1f), S O’Farrell 0-1 each.

Scorers for Tipperary: J O’Dwyer 0-11 (0-10f), B O’Meara 1-1, N McGrath 0-3 (0-3f), A Ryan, S Curran 0-2 each, K Morris, J O’Neill 0-1 each.

CORK: D McCarthy; C Joyce, E Finn, S Corry; J Nagle, W Egan, M Ellis; S O’Farrell, D Roche; D Brosnan, C Lehane, A Walsh; L O’Farrell, M O’Sullivan, J Coughlan.

Subs: D Drake for Roche (half-time), D Cahalane for Finn (42), E O’Sullivan for S O’Farrell (58).

TIPPERARY: P Ryan; C Haugh, K O’Gorman, S O’Brien; J Barry, N McGrath, P Heffernan; B Stapleton, A Ryan; J O’Neill, S Curran, P Murphy; K Morris, B O’Meara, J O’Dwyer.

Subs: J Gallagher for Barry (25), S Maher for O’Brien (half-time), M Sheedy for Morris (50), W Maher for Murphy (54).

Referee: Michael Wadding (Waterford).

Wish I Was There…but…!!

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

This is a huge week for U-21 hurling with both the Ulster and the Munster finals taking place tonight, so who better to give us his views on the Munster final than Cork’s Aidan Walsh. Huge weekend ahead of him too in the football so best of luck lad! Not an easy few days for myself and the Galway lads recently but I’ll be back blogging next week.

- Joe

Aidan Walsh

“Would you mind being a guest blogger” they said. No problem I said. But now the problem begins! What to say?  I don’t do this week in week out like Joe does! “Just talk about your own experiences with Cork U-21s and what you think of this year’s championship” they suggested. Right so…

But here is the real problem.  As I write this, I have the feet up on the couch having come in from a light kick about. I have an All-Ireland Football Quarter Final to look forward to against Roscommon. 2pm on Sunday in GAA HQ. Croke Park.

Bord Gais Energy Hurling U-21 Ambassadors at Croke Park

The last time I was in Croke Park I was at the launch of the Bord Gáis Energy GAA Hurling U-21 All-Ireland Championship. I was honoured that they had nominated me as one of their ambassadors and I looked forward to their campaign and helping them promote this wonderful competition.  But mostly, I was looking forward to doing my bit on the pitch for Cork. So as I look forward to another trip to the Jones’ Road – this time without a hurl but with a pair of boots instead – you would think that I couldn’t be happier! Yet, as I now try to write this blog it is hard not to look back on this year’s Munster U-21 Hurling championship with more than a touch of regret.

Having started at wing back last year for the U-21 hurlers, I was really looking forward to this year’s campaign but due to footballing commitments I was restricted to a substitute’s role in the win over Waterford and unfortunately could play no role at all in the narrow extra time loss to Tipperary.

With the injuries that I have had this year (did the hamstring twice in the build up to the U-21 football campaign and then did it again with the senior footballers in the replay with Kerry) my involvement may have been restricted anyway. But Ger Fitzgerald, theU-21 hurling manager and Conor Counihan, senior football manager were very fair with me and where I stood.  Something had to give.

Watching the lads play on without me has been hard and indeed as I watched from the stands in Páirc Uí Chaíomh and saw the heart break they had to endure against Tipperary, I was absolutely gutted for them – I still felt part of that group. They were so close to winning it in normal time, yet had it cruelly taken away from them. A converted penalty in the last minutes of normal time by Tipp’s Seamus Hennessy. But in extra time, Tipperary were very impressive. They drove on and McGrath and Hennessy were inspired. So it is they that line out in Semple Stadium against Clare. A lot of their players now also have the added bonus of a senior win under their belts against Galway. A team with a winning mentality.

No such senior confidence coursing through the veins of the Clare lads. Their seniors lost a few weeks ago to Dublin, but the advantage of that loss is that their U-21s would have been able to concentrate all their efforts on this year’s campaign. This is a huge plus for them. No fear of interruptions – just 100% commitment for a semi final against Limerick and now a Munster Final with Tipp. Wish I was there? Absolutely.  I wish I was there with Cork, with Ger Fitz and the lads, lining up and ready to do the job in Semple Stadium. But it wasn’t to be. My road now leads to Croke Park and my focus is solely on getting myself right for Roscommon at the weekend.

It is no less than the lads and Ger Fitz would expect of me.

What world cup…?!

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

When a weekend of GAA action makes more headlines than the World Cup Final, you know something is up! But that’s exactly what happened when Louth were robbed. And not by the referee in my opinion, but by the umpire. Why he didn’t tell the ref that Joe Sheridan threw the ball over the line I will just never know.

As for the hurling, last minute action there too! Cork were unlucky I suppose that they didn’t hold out but as I well know better than anyone, Waterford always fight to the end. A draw was probaly the fairest way to end the game though as both sides had large periods of dominance. Looking forward now to the replay.

This week the big event is the Bord Gáis Energy U-21 Leinster Hurling Final but we also have the two U-21 Munster Hurling Semi-Finals and the Ulster Hurling Quarter-Final. Dublin meet Wexford in Parnell Park, Cork and Tipperary do battle in Pairc Uí Chaoímh, in the Gaelic Grounds, Limerick take on Clare, while in Brewster Park, Fermanagh take on Armagh.

I think in the Tipp and Cork match I have a slight fancy for Tipp. The quality that they have at their disposal is frightening. Noel McGrath and Padraic Maher are just two of the players and I expect them to have too much experience and skill for the Rebels. Plus I don’t know if Aidan Walsh will be playing for Cork either due to his football commitments and if he isn’t he will be a huge loss.

In the other Semi-Final I think Clare will have just enough to get over a hard working Limerick side. It will be interesting to see whether or not the senior Clare players will be up for this match seen as they only just lost to Dublin last Saturday evening. A few players worth watching for Limerick and Clare would be Paidi and Tommy O’Brien for Limerick. Keep an eye on Nicky O’Connell and the speedy Sean Collins too.

With many of last year’s All Ireland Minor ‘C’ winning team lining out for Fermanagh they will not be short of talent and confidence but Armagh should have enough to get through that one.

In the Leinster Final it’s a huge occasion for both counties. Dublin will be on a high after comprehensively accounting for Kilkenny in the Semi-Final in Nowlan Park. A great team performance that night and one which will need to be re-enacted if they are to overcome Wexford. Wexford will feel coming into this final that they have nothing to lose. All the pressure will be on Dublin to perform in their home ground in front of, hopefully, a huge crowd and it’s up to Wexford to take the game to Dublin. I still think, even without Rory O’Carroll, that if Dublin play anything like they did in the Semi-Final they should have just too much in the tank for Wexford.

Enjoy the Hurling and get out in support of your team.

The story so far…according to Marty!

Monday, June 21st, 2010

Seems Marty has found a grá for blogging and is our guest blogger again this week. Keep an eye out for future guest bloggers, who knows we might even get Ger to blog one of these days! Anyway I will be back in blogging action later in the week so talk to you all then. Over to Marty…

- Joe

As I eagerly await the arrival of my own Clare into this years’ Bord Gáis Energy Munster Under 21 Hurling Championship, it hasn’t taken long for a number of teams to put their hands up as leading contenders.

Cork looked impressive despite keeping Cork senior footballer Aidan Walsh in reserve in their opening Championship encounter against Waterford.

Kanturk dual star Aidan Walsh

This lad from Kanturk is a real dual star although a hamstring injury the last day out with the senior footballers against Kerry may yet hamper his year for both the Under 21 hurlers and the senior footballers.

Ryan Clifford is another rising star on Leeside and proved his reputation was well merited with six fine points that evening against the Déise.

This week though the focus is to the East and it’s going to be a great week for Leinster. Kilkenny will be a force again this year…as always!

They have already blitzed a highly fancied Offaly side. Wing Forward Mark Bergin was particularly impressive with a personal tally of 1-9!
The Cats now play Dublin in the Leinster Semi in what is essentially a repeat of year’s decider which the Cats won 2-20 to 1-19. You would have to hope that after the drubbing handed out at the weekend, that the Dubs have not been affected by the performance of their senior team. They will need all guns blazing against this Kilkenny team.

Kilkenny vs. Dublin - Leinster Semi Final (Nowlan Park - 23rd June '10)

Carlow will play Wexford in the other Semi Final with the Carlow lads having already seen off Laois in the quarter-final.

Carlow hurling teams are making massive progress lately with their senior hurlers defeating eventual Division Two winners Wexford during their League campaign.

With due respect to Wexford, it would be a significant achievement for a county like Carlow to qualify for a Leinster Under 21 Hurling Final. To be honest it’s a real possibility as this young hurling side have already proven their worth at minor level and considering the senior league performance of some of their younger players, their self belief must be growing.

For any county that wants success, the Under 21 Championship is both a breeding ground for future stars but also a wonderful Championship in its own right. This year’s Championship is intriguing to say the least with a whole host of matches that could go either way.  There’s one other reason why I love the Under 21 Championship.

The majority of games are played on Wednesday nights and where else in the world would you get it…great games of skill and passion, a chance to meet old and new friends, an opportunity to socialise and romantic venues like Fraher Field Dungarvan, Parnell Park, Dublin or Cusack Park Ennis???

Ok … ok….romantic…. might just be pushing it a little bit too far !!!

- Marty

Rebels off to a flier as Déise get a roasting

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

Cork 1-16 Waterford 1-3
By Fintan O’Toole

Thursday, June 03, 2010

THREE days after the county senior side had departed Páirc Uí Chaoimh with an emphatic championship victory, Cork’s U21 outfit replicated that effort at the same venue in last night’s Bord Gáis Energy Munster U21HC quarter-final against Waterford.

Cork may have had endured a barren 12 years nationally in this grade but they began their 2010 exertions with a hugely commanding display as they bossed this encounter from start to finish.

Cork suffered the late withdrawal of wing-forward Aidan Walsh before throw-in, seemingly with an eye to his involvement in next Sunday’s Munster SFC quarter-final in Killarney, but his absence did not appreciably weaken the team. Backboned by an outstanding defence that leaked few scores to the Waterford attack, Cork moved with plenty of authority.

But for massive wastefulness in front of goal in the first-half when they totted up 12 wides, their interval lead of 0-7 to 0-1 would have been notably extended. Yet the poverty of Waterford’s display meant Cork were never forced to rue that profligacy.

The only dark note on Cork’s night was the dismissal of centre-forward Cian McCarthy in the 35th minute when he was given his marching orders by Declan O’Driscoll, along with Waterford midfielder Owen Whelan after the pair became entangled in an off-the-ball incident. Those two reds were complemented by seven yellow cards shown in the first-half, but the high card count was strange considering it was not an intensely spiteful clash due to Cork’s undoubted superiority.

Waterford struck the first blow on the scoreboard when Shanahan hammered over a sixth-minute free yet alarmingly from their viewpoint that transpired to be their solitary score of the half. They struggled to pierce the defensive shutter Cork had erected in their half-back line and when they did direct matters towards the Cork goal, they found their opponents possessed resolute operators there too. Eoin Keane produced a determined outing at full-back and when called upon in the 15th minute goalkeeper Darren McCarthy was adept in thwarting a blinding drive by Thomas Ryan.

By the 13th minute Cork had a 0-3 to 0-1 advantage with Cian McCarthy making an early impression on centre-forward that was backed up by a scoring salvo of two points. As the half progressed Cork’s shooting showed gradual signs of improvement with Newtownshandrum’s Ryan Clifford attuning his radar most successfully. His positional awareness was excellent in creating the space to flight over three late points before the break, including one memorable effort from out on the right touchline.

The dismissal of McCarthy early in the second-half failed to perturb Cork as they continued to pour forward. Impressive midfielder Seamus O’Farrell strode forward for a pair of expertly-taken points and the names of Michael Bowles and Mark Collins were soon inked on the scoresheet as well. Shane Kearney registered a fine point for Waterford in the 38th minute but the fact that it transpired to be their only effort from play all night was illuminating. By the 47th minute Cork were ahead by 0-12 to 0-3.

Waterford defenders Shane Kearney, Noel Connors and Phillip Mahony tried manfully to keep Cork at bay but the constant waves of attacks broke them down. In the 62nd minute Cork finally managed to get in for the goal their efforts deserved. A superb flowing team move constructed the opening with an overlap created by Daniel Kearney and Luke O’Farrell, creating the chance for sub Michael O’Sullivan to bang the ball to the net. There was still time for Waterford to grab a goal of their own with a tremendous shot to the top corner by Brian O’Sullivan in the 63rd minute, but that was not going to stop Cork advancing to a last four meeting with Tipperary.

Scorers for Cork: R Clifford 0-6 (0-3f), M O’Sullivan 1-0, C McCarthy (0-1f), S O’Farrell, L O’Farrell 0-2 each, M Bowles, M Collins, J Nagle, P Gould 0-1 each

Waterford: B O’Sullivan 1-0, M Shanahan 0-2 (0-2f), S Kearney (Ballyduff Upper) 0-1.

CORK: D McCarthy; S McDonnell, E Keane, C O’Sullivan; J Nagle, W Egan, L McLoughlin; D Kearney, S O’Farrell; M Collins, C McCarthy, M Bowles; L O’Farrell, T Murphy, R Clifford.

Subs: P Gould for Murphy (43), R White for Collins (46), M O’Sullivan for Bowles (55), G O’Connor for Nagle (57), F Keane for Clifford (60).

WATERFORD: S O’Keeffe; N Connors, B Coughlan, S Kearney (Dungarvan); J Prendergast, P O’Mahony, S Daniels; S Fives, O Whelan; R Fenton, M Shanahan, S Kearney (Ballyduff Upper); B O’Sullivan , S Aherne, T Ryan.

Subs: A Connors for Fenton (half-time), P Prendergast for Daniels (47), P Donovan for Ryan (inj) (50), S Power for Aherne (52).

Referee: D O’Driscoll (Limerick)

This story appeared in the printed version of the Irish Examiner Thursday, June 03, 2010

And we’re off!

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

What a weekend of action! And if you are from Cork it’s going to be some week! Coming hot on the heels of their win over Tipperary, the Cork Under 21 team go into action against Waterford this Wednesday in Páirc Uí Chaoimh for the first game of the Bord Gáis Energy GAA Hurling U-21 All-Ireland Championship. Supporters are sure to come out in force for this as it certainly seems that there is a spring back in the steps of those on Leeside! 

Having just finished college exams, I can relax a bit this week, catch up with mates and hopefully get to see the Waterford and Cork match.

In fairness, what a start to the Under 21 Championship! Two of the power houses of modern hurling going head to head in Páirc Uí Chaoimh…in some ways I was always envious of this provincial warfare that most other counties have year in year out in the 21s.

Yet, in other ways I was not! Come Thursday morning, either Waterford or Cork, will be out of the Under 21 Hurling Championship, before they even get going really. At least in Galway, while we may not have the same game time as other counties competing in the 21s, we know we are guaranteed an All-Ireland semi final. This means you can prepare accordingly and focus your attention on the chance to reach an All-Ireland final. It doesn’t take much to motivate you for a game like that!

Anyway, best of luck to the lads involved on Wednesday and especially to the two Bord Gáis

Energy Under 21 Hurling Ambassadors that I met last week at the launch. Aidan Walsh from Cork and Noel Connors from Waterford – both sound lads and regardless of what happens on Wednesday we will see plenty of them this Summer and beyond.

Right, the sun is splitting the stones here – time to go for a swim!


Oh and here’s a video of me having a puck around with my nephew last year (heading for 10k views!).