AN AMAZING EXPERIENCE!
Fantastic weekend of hurling ends in controversy and devastation for Dwyers
LAST weekend the Wicklow Féile hurling champions travelled to Westmeath for the annual Féile na nGael under-14 hurling tournament which was being hosted by Galway and Westmeath clubs.
Travelling more in hope than expectation, the lads were pitted against formidable opposition in their group.
This included the Westmeath (Clann na Gael) and Derry (Swartagh) champions plus our hosts Southern Gaels from Athlone.
Having travelled the two and a half hour journey from west Wicklow in glorious sunshine the locals put on a great reception with a pre-match barbeque for all players and supporters.
First up was game against pre-tournament favourites Clan na Gael who we were told had a host of very strong county under-14 players.
The game started slowly for Dwyers but with some great defending form keeper Adam Williamson, Charlie Chamley, Finn Behan and Ross Sheridan we managed to contain the Clann threat and went in level at half-time with two points each.
Unfortunately we lost one of our main scoring threats, Matt Miley, in the first 10 minutes.
We now knew that we had every chance to take this side and so tore into the opposition in the first 10 minutes and scored 1-1 without reply with the goal coming from the versatile James Boland and Austin Brennan tacking over a long range free.
It was now backs to the wall stuff as Clann threw everything at us but could only manage one point and so Dwyers has won the first battle on a score of 1-3 to 0-3.
One of the highlights of this game was the manner in which young Rian Walters managed to contain the towering centreback from Clann. This could be our weekend!
Next up were the Derry champions form Swatrtagh and with such formidable names as Anthony Tohill who was a fantastic hurler as well as a footballer in their club we knew these boys would not be found wanting.
Again we started very slowly but managed to break down their strong running game and with the outstanding Sam Gough in midfield and Cian Deering, Conor Richardson, Eoin Sheridan Conor Manifold and Luke Byrne winning lots of possession we eventually came through on a scoreline of 1-2 to 0-3. This was one hell of a battle but we could now rest, gather our thoughts and make our plans for the following morning where we played the hosts on their home pitch in Athlone.
On another scorching day in the midlands, Southern Gaels were our only obstacle to a cup quarter-final. This proved to be one of our easier games and leading 2-3 to one point at half-time we were now in the driving seat and eventually ended up winners on a scoreline of 2-5 to 1-3 and with all of our 24 players getting game time.
Some great performances were put in by some of our younger players with Andy Corrigan, Brian Richardson, Sean Darker, Daniel Byrne, Patrick Dunne and Conor Carmody to the fore.
All roads now led to the famed football nursery of Clann Na Gael, Roscommon home of the four times All-Ireland club football finalists of the 80’s and 90’s.
Our opposition was none other than the oldest hurling club in the GAA – Commercials, Dublin.
This turned out to be a very tough, tense and tight affair with no scores in the first half just incredible tackles, hooks and blocks to the fore.
Eventually after herculean work by Ciaran Coyne and Austin Brennan in defence we manage to get on top and a point by Jack O’Toole and a wonderfully worked goal by Ivor Fenton gave us a four-point lead leading into injury time.
Commercials then scored a free and in the fifth minute of injury time we conceded a goal from a 65 which trickled into the corner of the net.
But from the resultant puck out we were awarded a free 65m out on the sideline which was pointed by Austin Brennan but as it popped over the bar the referee incredibly signalled a free out for a square ball and then blew up for extra-time from the resultant free.
The lads really gave their all for the extra 10 minutes but Commercials managed to survive on a score of 1-3 to 1-1. They eventually won their semi-final by 14 points and their final by seven.
It was an amazing experience for all involved, players, coaches and parents alike and no doubt there will be many, many stories regaled in time to come of OUR Féile na nGael 2018 experience.
the Michael dwyers team ahead of their departure for the 2018 Féile na nGael.