The Shamrocks under-12 squad
The next generation of Ballyhale Shamrocks hurling stars took their bow in Croke Park on Sunday, and they weren’t involved in the senior game.
The club under-12 team played St Thomas in a Respect exhibition Go Game during half-time in the big match, and Shamrocks trainer Tommy Shefflin was sure the experience would capture the hearts of the youngsters for hurling.
“Who knows, in time, they could feature with some of the seniors of today in an All-Ireland final,” he beamed after Shamrocks struck gold again on another huge day for the club in Croke Park.
Mr Shefflin, an All-Ireland club winner with Shamrocks in 1990, was manager of Carrickshock when they won the intermediate club All-Ireland in 2017, and on Sunday he was part of the backroom team with his brother Henry, Richie O’Neill and Patrick Phelan.
“They hurled very well,” was Mr Shefflin assessment of the winning performance. “In the first half St Thomas appeared to be more up for it than our lads. I don’t know if it was the nerves or what.
“Once we relaxed, opened up and started hurling everything was fine. The early part of the performance was understandable. There were a lot of young lads out there. This was first time playing in Croke Park for some of them, and certainly in an All-Ireland final.”
And then he brought up an interesting story. Back in 2010 when Shamrocks won the All-Ireland, eight or nine of the current senior panel were pucking around at half-time in the under-age exhibition match.
Again on Sunday Shamrocks had an under-12 team playing during the break. One of Mr Shefflin’s sons, Rian (11) was involved and Tommy was sure he was looking at his older brother (Evan) hoping that some day it would be his turn to don the colours.
Young lads in Croker
“I was telling Rian at home that when he (Evan) was 10 or 11 he was pucking around in the half-time game,” the team trainer revealed. “It is great for a club to have that, young lads pucking around in Croke Park.
“Here we are, nine years on after our last win and eight or nine of our panel were pucking around during the game at half-time. Now they are winning their first All-Ireland medal.
“It is great what the club has achieved. Eight All-Ireland finals and seven wins. We are a small parish. We just don’t have the resources, but we have passion.
“If you walked into the Ballyhale pitch you would swear we never won anything. But people would swap anything for what we have. There is nothing else to do in the parish but play hurling.
“The young lads are watching what is going on, and hopefully they are being impressed. For the lads who were hurling at half-time to see the team winning surely gives them that inspiration that maybe in nine years time or more I could be out there winning.
“That is what it is all about. It is as simple as that. People will be asking what is it with us. That is the simple answer. It is that early experience gained by the young lads. Success breeds success.
“The current players are their heroes now. Maybe in seven, eight or nine years time they could be playing with some of the stars of today in an All-Ireland final. It is possible,” he insisted.
Ballyhale Shamrocks under-12 panel - Cathal Coogan, Logan Goodread, Aidan Grummel, David Kolodziej, Charlie Lennon, Rory McMahon, Jake Mullen, Sean O’Farrell, Sean O’Mahoney, James Ryan, Killian Ryan, Rian Shefflin, Tiarnan Shefflin, Tommy Walsh.
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