Buggy Auctioneers presented Castlecomer Community School with playing gear for the All-Ireland Roinn B final against St Raphael's
The testing journey could yet turn out to be a blessing for Castlecomer Community School as they face an almighty challenge in their bid to bridge a 16 year gap since their last All-Ireland hurling final success.
The North Kilkenny outfit have enjoyed a great season to date, winning the Rest of Leinster and Leinster senior hurling Roinn B titles, plus the All-Ireland Roinn B senior camogie crown.
On Saturday in O’Connor Park, Tullamore, they face mighty St Raphael’s of Loughrea, who are bidding to complete the senior/junior All-Ireland hurling double, in the senior hurling ‘B’ final.
“It has been a battle all year for us,” admitted Castlecomer CS manager, Pat Tynan, the Coaching Officer in Kilkenny, “but the boys have shown super character all the way.”
Didn’t kill off teams
You see, there were times when ’Comer clearly out-hurled opponents and the difference was reflected on the scoreboard, but somehow they didn’t kill off teams. The performance in the Rest of Leinster final against Colaiste Choilm Tullamore was typical.
Castlecomer appeared to have had the game won, but they allowed Tullamore back into it before putting them away with a dazzling finish with James Brennan, Jack Buggy, Conor McMahon, Chris Korff and Jack Morrissey and so on showing serious class.
“In most game we were ahead and we had to come back again to win,” Pat Tynan recalled when reminded of that match.
“Early on in the year against Scoil Mhuire (Johnstown) it was in the eight minute of injury-time when we scored a goal to equalise. That was a crucial result. It meant we had a home quarter-final.”
Castlecomer roared on, beating Abbey CC, Gorey, Rochestown, Tullamore and St Benildus College (Dublin) in the Leinster final.
“It has been a tough run,” added Mr Tynan, who looks after the squad with Peter O’Donovan, who was centre-back and captain on the 2003 Castlecomer CS winning side, the only team from the school to win the national title.
“It tested the boys every way, hurling wise, character and spirit.
“They have responded very well and grown in confidence. They are in good form and they are looking forward to the match.”
There is great excitement in the schools and area thanks to the exploits of the hurlers and camogie players. Players are drawn from a mere five clubs - Erin’s Own, St Martin’s (Muckalee), Cloneen, St Patrick’s (Ballyragget) and Conahy Shamrocks - and they have grown into a real fighting unit.
“It has been a long, hard campaign and the season has turned into a bit of a feast,” Mr Tynan continued. “The girls winning the Roinn B senior camogie All-Ireland was wonderful, and now we have a chance of adding something huge too.
“We have a massive day ahead. St Raphael’s will be strong. They have a number of last year’s Galway All-Ireland winning minor team, plus a few lads who, no doubt, will feature with the county this time, but we have self belief. We are concentrating on ourselves, our own game.
“The boys have been tested every way, hurling wise, character, spirit. They have responded very well and grown in confidence.
“We are looking forward to getting one more big performance from them. It is hard to win an All-Ireland final. A chance like this doesn’t come around too often.
“In the 16 years since we won, it wasn’t that hurling stopped in the school. We worked hard at promoting it. But like in any sport, you can be lucky and get a bunch who click. So far things have happened for us.”
Getting the one last big performance out of the players was the thing now.
“In the last five or 10 minutes of most games the players have shown tremendous character,” Mr Tynan insisted.
“We have asked a lot of them and they have always given. They are a fantastic group.
“In simple terms this is another match, even if it is an All-Ireland final. All we are asking is that the players produce a performance. If they give the performance they can it will take a good display from St Raphael’s to beat them.
“There is a good balance to our team. There is experience there as well. Some of them have been involved with the Kilkenny Development Squads and the Kilkenny minors.
“They are a very honest and unassuming bunch. They work hard at the game, and they never give in. The chance they have created for themselves his huge, and they are ready to give their all.”
The successful 2003 Castlecomer CS squad was - David Shore, Paddy Shortall, James Staunton, Tomás Nolan, Patrick Nolan, Peter O’Donovan (capt), Ronan Maher, James Maher, Damien Fogarty, David Stone, Eoin McGrath, Sean Allen, Gavin Nolan, Conor Kinsella, Martin Boran. Subs - Paddy Brennan, Ronan Walsh, Cathal Hester, David O’Gorman, Peter Dollard, Steve Mahon, Dermot Wallace, Brian Healy, Donal Meally, Aidan Murphy, Gavin Dowd, Kevin Lawlor, Shane Comerford.
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