U-21 Medal Presentation Abbey Court Hotel Saturday February 16th 2008

19 Feb 2008 by Gilbert Williams

Last year the u-21 hurlers won their eighth North title and their sixth county crown to move top of the county roll of honour in this grade. In the first round they had a five point win against our great rivals Toomevara. This was followed by a seven point semi-final win against Borris-Ileigh. In the North final they proved too strong for Shannon Rovers Gaels and had ten points to spare. The county semi-final saw them renew rivalry with South champions Carrick Swan and following a tremendous display, booked a final place with a ten point victory. On Sunday December 16th, they retained the Dwan Cup in Toomevara, with a five point win against a very good Drom-Inch side.
I’ll now introduce each player as he comes forward to receive his North and County medals.    

Stephen Murphy was captain of the side.  In 2001 Stephen came to live in Cloughjordan. Since then he has won ten North and six county medals. He has played minor, u-21 and senior football with Tipperary and was a member of the side, which won the Tommy Murphy Cup in 2006. This year Stephen played full back on the Tipperary u-21 hurling team. The sixth Kilruane MacDonaghs player to captain a county u-21 hurling team to victory. Stephen Murphy. 

In goals was Ger Corcoran, better known as Corky. I think you’ll all understand when I say that Ger is a cut above the rest. He had an outstanding year for the juniors, minors, u-21s and Borrisokane Community College. Ger made a brilliant save at a crucial period in the county final….one of the many he made during the year. Ger Corcoran

Right full back was Gavin McAvinchey who finished like a steam train in the county final, plucking four balls in a row out of the sky and clearing his lines. I am always very careful what I say about Gavin because his father David is the surgeon in Nenagh hospital and you never know the day or the hour. So I would like to put it on record that Gavin is a lovely fellow and he is easily the best hurler on the team. Gavin McAvinchey

Full-back was Martin ‘ Murty’ Walsh. Even though he is only twenty, Martin seems to have been playing for Kilruane MacDonaghs since I was a boy. He captained the minor team to win the county final in 2005 and never gives less than 100% when he pulls the black and white jersey over his shoulders. You are all probably aware of the reported sightings of a mysterious black panther in the Kilruane area. You’ll be relieved to know that the mystery has been solved. It was actually Martin Walsh training on his own in his black Kilruane hoodie. Good job Len Gaynor missed with that shot!  Martin Walsh.

Left corner- back was Paudie Kelly. Paudie had an absolutely superb year for the club in minor, u-21 and junior and for Nenagh C.B.S in the Harty Cup. He reminds me of a coiled spring. Always wound up and ready to go! Paudie Kelly.

Bantiss’ brightest and best, Liam Gibson was at right half-back. Our strict laws of libel prevent me from saying too much about him but I can say that Liam is one of the most skillful players on the team with a delightful first touch. He got better as the year went on and reserved his best display of the year for the county final. Liam Gibson

Centre- half back was Eoin Hogan. Eoin has worn the number six jersey with distinction on every club team from u-12 up to senior. In 2006 he won an All-Ireland minor medal and was also selected as North minor hurler of the year. Last year Eoin lined out with the Tipperary u-21’s and also captained Borrisokane Community College to Munster success. Eoin Hogan      

Seamus Hennessy was centre-field. He won his second All-Ireland minor medal with Tipperary last September and was top scorer for the Blue and Gold. Seamus was selected as North minor hurler of the year along with Nenagh’s Michael Heffernan. In a very successful career to date, he has won 17 North and 8 county medals with Kilruane MacDonaghs. Better known as Fez,
Seamus Hennessy        

Partnering Seamus Hennessy at midfield was Kevin Ryan, known to one and all as Rhino. Kevin is definitely the most popular player on the team. Last year, on Friday 13th of July, two of his colleagues drove two different cars from two different directions to collect him for training. Believe it or not, both cars crashed…..  No!  Not into each other! Fortunately nobody was injured and Kevin was chauffeured safely into training in a third car. On a more serious note you’ll all be delighted to know that Kevin is recovering well after a serious hand injury. Kevin Ryan

Right half forward was Colm Williams. Colm was concussed in the first half of the county final and had to leave the field because he didn’t know whether he was coming or going. Naturally his parents were quite concerned about the effects of the injury but they have been pleasantly surprised at the change in Colm’s personality. He’s now cooking the dinner, doing the hovering and even walking the dog. His parents are now very worried in case he gets another belt and returns to normal. Colm Williams.

Centre half-forward was Thomas Williams. He played in defence for the minors and in the attack for the juniors and u-21s. Thomas was a very dependable freetaker for the junior hurlers. He is one of seven members of the panel who has played with the Tipperary Primary Game hurling team. Thomas Williams  

Wearing the number twelve jersey in the county final was Brian Buggy O Meara. He had a great season for the u-21s and capped it with a fine display against Drom, scoring four points from play. In the North final Brian was in the unusual, but not unique situation, of lining out against his elder brother Mark, who was playing for Shannon Rovers. A similar situation occurred in the North senior final in 1959, when Sean and Joe Williams played on the winning Kilruane MacDonaghs team, while their brother Neil was on the losing Toomevara side. Brian O Meara

Right full forward was Declan Barrett known to his friends as Borat. One man’s difficulty is another man’s opportunity, so when injuries ruled out a number of players for the county semi-final and final, Declan took his chance with both hands. Against Carrick Swan he scored the vital goal which turned the game in our favour and in the county final he slotted over a delightful point. Declan Barrett

Full-forward was Ray McLoughney. He spent the summer in Boston and during that period was a huge loss to our senior team and to the Tipperary u-21s. Ray returned for the Borris-Ileigh game and you could see the immediate improvement in the side. A devastating finisher from play and from frees, he is not afraid to do the donkey work either, as he showed when moved to centre-forward in both the county semi-final and final. North Tipperary player of the year in 2005 and North u-21 player of the year in 2006. Ray McLoughney
Wearing the number fifteen jersey, as he has done for nearly all of his young career, was the legend himself Mikey Costello. The success of all Kilruane MacDonaghs teams is based on a strong work ethic, where self-interest is sacrificed for the greater good of the team. Nobody epitomised this work ethic better than Mikey Costello. Allied to some delightful scores, his chasing, hooking, blocking hassling and harrying were a feature of Mikey’s play during the year. Barney Naughnane calls him Scut. Mikey Costello

Shane Quinlan had an outstanding game in the North final but was injured before the semi-final and was unable to start against Drom. However, he was brought in for the injured Colm Williams and scored the vital goal in the second half. Along with Ger Corcoran and Mikey Costello he is attending University College Galway. The three of them stay in the one flat…. Studying I believe is kept to the bare minimum. Shane Quinlan

Pat Conway was introduced in the North final, the county semi-final and the county final. This was his first year on the u-21 panel. Like many of his colleagues, Pat is carrying on a great family tradition. His father Michael won an All-Ireland minor medal in 1980, his grandfather Paddy won a North minor medal in 1952 and his great grandfather Mick Conway was on the De Wets side which won the club’s first county senior title in 1902. Pat Conway  
This is a very unusual team because almost everybody has a nickname. We have for example Gav and Gibby, Buggy and Borat. Jason Darcy is known as Sea bass, I don’t know what it means but it sounds like a Belgian marshmallow. Jason took early retirement or went into voluntary liquidation in 2004 but returned to the fold last year. Jason Darcy.

Timmy Walsh that likeable rogue from Lisgarode won his first u-21 medal this year. If Paudie Kelly is like a coiled spring, Timmy resembles a rubber ball. He puts his heart and soul into every game and never shirks a tackle. In the minor semi-final he went for a ball against an opponent twice his size. I could see the crunch coming. I closed my eyes and hoped that Timmy was covered by VHI or Bupa. And typical of Timmy, although the knees were wobbling, he staggered to his feet, wanted to carry on and had to be almost dragged off the field by the selectors. Timmy Walsh

Freddie Williams, who played in the 2006 county final, was badly hampered with injury last year
and didn’t regain full fitness in time. The good news is that he is fully recovered and is determined to regain his place this year. Freddie actually started training on St. Stephen’s Day.
Freddie Williams

 This was Ciarán Boyle’s first year on the u-21 panel. Ciaran has more medals than any other player here does tonight. He is a very accomplished swimmer and has won fifteen medals in the water and I reckon he has won another fifteen with Kilruane MacDonaghs. A man with a row of thirty medals on his chest. The one and only Ciarán Boyle  

Jonathan Cahill was ruled out of most of the campaign with a serious back injury. However, he had a magnificent game in the first round victory against Toomevara when the team was struggling. Despite his injury, Jonathan played in the minor and junior finals on successive days. Few others would have played in similar circumstances. His blistering pace and scoring ability were sorely missed by the u-21s. Hopefully, Jonathan will be back to full fitness for this year’s championship.
Jonathan Cahill

For the second successive year Mark O Leary, Barney Naughnane, Jim O Meara and Joe Burns were in charge.
Sadly however, events in the dressing room before the county final may have unfairly tarnished their reputation and it would be remiss of me not to avail of this opportunity to set the record straight. It has been widely rumoured that there was poitin in the dressing room prior to the Drom match. I can now confirm that there was.

I was there and the place smelled like a distillery and the fumes would knock down a Clydesdale horse. However, I would like to clarify that the poitin was only used to warm the players hands on a bitterly cold day, though when I saw Colm Williams wobbling on the field I thought he might have sampled some. I can say, however, without fear of contradiction that although a lot was spilt not a drop was drunk. The source of that poitin will forever remain a secret. On that, I gave my word of honour to Kay Cahalan and I intend keeping it.

Mark O Leary has been with this team for the last three years. He became the third Kilruane MacDonaghs player to win an All-Ireland senior medal when he scored 2-1 in Tipperary’s victory over Galway in 2001 final and in that same year he became the first and hopefully not the last club player to win an All-Star. Mark has given outstanding service to the club in both good times and bad and of course he is the designer of our highly acclaimed website www.kilruanemacdonaghs.com                Mark O Leary

Barney Naughnane has been involved with this team as u-14s and u-16s. He is one of the many quality coaches that we have produced in the Kilruane MacDonaghs club. Barney is one of the most progressive coaches in the county and always has a new idea or new drill. Not the man to meet if you’re in a hurry. He gets on well with the players and when Barney asks them would they like a size nine, they know they have to toe the line. Barney Naughnane  

Like Barney, Joe Burns has been with this team since they were u-14s and u-16s. Joe is a very shrewd operator on the line and is generally a very calming presence in the dressing room. It will come as a surprise to many, particularly his wife Sarah, that he was very emotional in the dressing room before the county final. In fact, Barney had to tell him to pull himself together. It seems that the sight of so much high quality poitin been wasted caused him much distress but he regained his composure when Kay Cahalan assured him that there was plenty more where that came from. Joe Burns 

As already mentioned Kilruane MacDonaghs have won six county u-21 A hurling titles and Jim O Meara has played on four of those teams and was a selector on the other two. Not a bad record! Another statistic of interest is this: Of the twenty five member panel which won the All-Ireland club final in 1986, nineteen, including Jim, have served as selectors on various club teams. Jim, however, is unique, as he always keeps reminding us, in that he has been a selector on u-12, u-14, u-16, minor, u-21, junior and senior teams. Not all at the same time, I hasten to add. To my knowledge, nobody else in the club has served as a mentor on all those teams. Jim O Meara

We have one final presentation to make.
At this year’s A.G.M. Carmel Daly stepped down from her post as joint treasurer of the Kilruane MacDonaghs club. For the last twenty years, Carmel has been involved, in one capacity or another, in managing the finances of the club, and prior to that she had been an active, energetic and effective committee member. During that time, she showed herself to be an administrator of the highest calibre. Carmel was the personification of integrity, meticulous with money and brilliant with the books. Whether it was the Lotto, A Sale of Work, A Dinner Dance or providing tea after training, she was always in the thick of things. Carmel never hid her loyalty to Kilruane MacDonaghs. At league and championship matches, in grades young and old, in weather both fair and foul, you could hear Carmel’s distinctive voice, urging on the black and white, or giving unsolicited advice to some poor referee. And most important of all, Carmel did it with a smile and a sense of humour. Carmel will remain on the committee and will continue to play a very important role in the club. But tonight, we would like to recognise the magnificent contribution that she has made to the Kilruane MacDonaghs club over many years. Carmel, the players, the committee, the club membership and the parish would like you to accept this presentation as a token of our genuine appreciation and immense gratitude. Ladies and gentlemen Carmel Daly

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