......and they wonder then why Kilkenny hurling continues to flourish. It is the care, the attention it receives, you see.
The background story here offers an insight. A new championship with the grand name of the Kilkenny Post Primary schools under-17 hurling championship attached was introduced this season.
It had a fine trophy on offer, the Paddy Buggy Cup, which honours the memory of the great Kilkenny and Slieverue star who dearly loved the unique game of the Gaels. And the final was played in Nowlan Park, a gesture by the County Board to help the promotion of the competition.
And all for what? To give young lads at this level more hurling. Simple!
Neither Coláiste Eamon Rís (Callan) nor Scoil Aireagail (Ballyhale) could live in the ultra competitive world with the elite, and their hurling commitments for the season would have been finished before Christmas.
The introduction of this under-17 competition pitched like against like, with the finalists qualifying through a group system. At sunny Nowlan Park on Thursday two earnest sides with a fair sprinkling of talent produced a level of hurling skill that would suggest the intention was more than met.
Give young lads games and they will improve! Definitely.
Team handlers Canice Hickey and Padraig Walsh (Coláiste Eamon Rís), yes, they of the Kilkenny connection former and present, and Eamon Walsh (Shamrocks Ballyhale and Kilkenny) and Brian Guilfoyle were delighted with how things went. The competition has earned a place on the calendar!
The action was engaging, with the winners always looking the more likely side to succeed after John Doheny shot their second point in the 12th minute to put them in front. A minute later one of their brightest performers, Shane Cullen, a lively wing back, kicked off a move that ended with Michael Power blasting a low shot at Scoil Aireagail goalie, Luke McNamara. The latter blocked, but he was to be beaten soon.
The man who did so was midfielder, James Culleton, who flighted in a high, slow dropping ball that deceived the ’keeper and the sliotar fell into the net (1-3 to 0-1).
The losers roared back, and Conor Lawlor cracked home a goal at the city end at the second attempt after a right wing cross from the zippy Martin Davis. When Davis put his name on the equalising goal minutes later, the action looked set to explode.
Coláiste Rís dampened the spirits of the opposition somewhat when Conor Murphy rounded his man before sending the green flying, and his team into a 2-4 to 2-1 lead. He repeated the act minutes later to help fire his side into a good interval lead of 3-7 to 2-2.
During the early minutes of the second half Jack Hayes (Callan) and Martin Davis traded points, but the losers were in a meaner, more determined mood now. When Andrew Moran goaled in the 39th minute, and Davis added a quick point, Coláiste Rís suddenly found that a lot of their earlier hard work had been undone (3-8 to 3-4).
Credit to them, they had the rich talent to dig themselves out of a bit of a corner, with the elegant James Culleton, T.J. Tierney, Cullen, Josh Doheny, Conor Murphy, Luke Walsh and Jack Hayes leading the way.
It was a slow escape, however.
It wasn’t until Jack Hayes and Shane Culleton put points back-to-back in the 54th and 55th minutes, the closing two scores, that the game was definitely put beyond the reach of the losers.
The stubborn resistance of James Brennan, deadly duo Martin Davis and David Kedney, Brian Farrell plus Patrick Hearne kept the contest alive for a long, long time.
A lovely idea for a competition threw up a final that suggested the basic thinking is spot on!
SCORERS: Coláiste Eamonn Rís - Conor Murphy (2-5, three points frees); James Culleton (1-1); Jack Hayes (0-3); Josh Doheny (free), Shane Cullen, Craig Cahill, Michael Power (0-1 each). Scoil Aireagail - Martin David (1-3, points frees); Andrew Moran, Conor Lawlor (1-0 each); Patrick Hearne (0-2, one 65); David Kedney (0-1).
Coláiste Eamonn Rís - Daithi Power (Grangemockler); Jack Bradley (John Lockes), Kevin Maher (Tullaroan), capt, Kalle Young (Windgap); David Needham (Grangemockler), T.J. Tierney (John Lockes), Shane Cullen (Windgap); James Culleton (Windgap), Josh Doheny (John Lockes); Craig Cahill (James Stephens), Conor Murphy (John Lockes), Luke Walsh (John Lockes); Jack Hayes (Windgap), Jamie Lawlor (Graigue-Ballycallan), Michael Power (John Lockes). Subs - Darragh Bergin (John Lockes), Andrew Gleeson (Mullinahone), Dylan Thomas (Windgap), Alan Wall (Graigue-Ballycallan), Christopher McDonald (Windgap), Daniel Power (John Lockes), Bobby Cummins (Tullaroan), Jack Doyle (John Lockes), Patrick O’Callaghan (Windgap), Mark Grace (Windgap), Daniel Lawlor (Graigue-Ballycallan), Sean Dunne (Windgap).
Scoil Aireagail - Luke McNamara (Carrickshock); Luke Ward (Windgap), Cillian Lafford (Dunnamaggin), James Brennan (Mullinavat); Sean Brennan (Mullinavat), Patrick Hearne (Shamrocks), Jamie McLoughlin (Dunnamaggin); Adam Brenner (Shamrocks), Brian Farrell (Dunnamaggin); Andrew Moran (Shamrocks), Rory Doyle (Carrickshock), Martin Davis (Shamrocks); Conor Lawlor (Dunnamaggin), David Kedney (Carrickshock), Michel Murphy (Carrickshock). Subs listed - Jamie Dungan (Mullinavat), Roy Cullen (Dunnamaggin), Kieran Neville (Carrickshock), Jamie Barron (Carrickshock), Chris Grace (Carrickshock), Eoin Doolan (Glenmore), Sean O’Mahony (Shamrocks).
Referee - Eamon Mansfield (Cloneen).