Alan Ryan trophy returns to Erneside
On Bank Holiday Monday the sun shone brightly for our annual Alan ryan/Seamus Grimes under 16 hurling tournament. It has been running since 1998 and honours two former club men and great hurling men. It's an eagerly awaited tournament and is eagerly anticipated every year by clubs in the North West. We had five teams from five different counties this year which added to the excitement. The participating teams were Na Magha of Derry, Strabane Shamrocks from Tyrone, the regining Alan Ryan champions Coolera/Strandhill of Sligo, Lisbellaw from Fermanagh and host club Aodh Ruadh. The tournament was played off in a round robin series with play begining at 11am. Aodh Ruadh played Na Magha and Coolera/ Strandhill played Lisbellaw in the opening matches with wins for the Derry and Fermanagh teams. Our very young panel of 17 players contained seven under 14s and only three players who will be overage next year. They started off very nervously and lost 0-5 to 0-0 to a strong Derry team, who even at this early stage looked like they were the team to beat.
In round two Aodh Ruadh took on Lisbellaw in Father Tierney park. It had only been a couple of weeks since they received a serious beating from the Fermanagh lads in the opening round of the Fermanagh league. With criticism still ringing in their ears the local boys put in a great effort and ran out winners on a score line of 1-4 to 0-1 this was the shot of belief the lads needed.
Next up was a game against Strabane, who have always been very competitive at this tournament. The game started at a great pace and Aodh Ruadh, with the aid of the breeze, ran into an early lead. They battled well in the second half to hold this lead and gave of their all to run out winners on a 2-2 to 0-1 score line.
At this stage it was looking like the Alan Ryan final would be between two teams from the following three Aodh Ruadh, Strabane and Na Magha. In our final group game we played the winners of the previous two years Coolera/Strandhill. They had a very young team and were carrying a number of injuries at this stage. True to the great champions they were, they battled away gamely to the end where the score line read Aodh Ruadh 5-8 Coolera/Strandhill 0-0.
Meanwhile in Pairc Aoidh Ruaidh Lisbellaw beat Strabane so the stage was now set for the two finals, in the Seamus Grimes final Lisbellaw faced up to Strabane while in the Alan Ryan final Aodh Ruadh faced the highly fancied Na Magha in a rematch of the tournament's opening fixture.
Lisbellaw as ever put in a great performance but the Tyrone men battled away and ran out winners on a score line of Strabane 2-5 Lisbellaw 1-2.
The stage was now set for the Alan Ryan final where Aodh Ruadh won the toss and played with the strong breeze against Na Magha. Having reached the final the boys were determined not to lose another final this weekend. The boys gave it their all and chased and blocked everything in a game in which both sides tore into each other and left nothing in the tank. It was one of the best hurling games seen in Fr. Tierney park in years. The homesters ran out worthy winners on a 1-5 to 0-2 score line. The boys were delighted to have won and to have played in such a tough sporting game, our large home support gave the lads a great reception coming off the field.
From the field of play it was up to Aras Aoidh Ruaidh to enjoy the feast of food which had been put on by the Ryan and Grimes families and also by the lads' families. Club stalwart and father of the late Alan Ryan, Martin 'Kerry' Ryan began proceedings by thanking all the teams who had travelled to the tournament. He then thanked the Ryan and Grimes families and all the players families for all the food which had been put on. He thanked John Rooney and the Aodh Ruadh juvenile hurling committee who run this tournament annually. He thanked the Aodh Ruadh club and Pat Melaniff for the excellent condition of the pitches and he thanked the referees and umpires. He had a special word for Billy Finn who couldn't be there and he thanked all the sponsors. He then called on Eddie Grimes, son of the late Seamus Grimes, to present the Seamus Grimes Memorial trophy to the Strabane captain. Eddie on behalf of the Grimes family thanked all who had made the day possible, thanked the clubs who travelled, thanked all who helped with the catering and spoke of how proud his father would be at such a great day of hurling.
Next to speak was Aodh Ruadh juvenile hurling chairman, John Rooney. He thanked all the clubs, those who helped with the food, the referees, umpires all the Aodh Ruadh juvenile hurling committee, Park Committee, Pat Melaniff and he gave special thanks to Brian Drummond who had spent the day taking photos at the event. He spoke of the late Alan Ryan and how he had no doubt that he would have made a great senior hurler and how it was great to see his nephews playing hurling for the club. He also spoke of the late Seamus Grimes and described him as one of the best hurlers ever produced in Donegal. He spoke of Seamus's passion for the game and how he always had respect for his opponents and always played the game hard and fair and encouraged all the teams he played and managed to play that way. Rooney finished by thanking all the teams for the hard, sporting way they played the game and looked forward to seeing them all in 2012. He then called on the defeated Na Magha captain and team to come forward and accept their runners-up medals from Father McManus. He then called on Caroline Ryan, sister of the late Alan Ryan, to come forward and present the Alan Ryan trophy to a delighted Aodh Ruadh captain, Tommy Gillespie. Tommy, when put on the spot and asked for few words, gave a great speech thanking all who had made the day possible and thanked all the opposing teams for very competive games. And that brought an end to a great day.
Video of an Aodh Ruadh goal during the Alan Ryan tournament on May Bank Holiday Monday.
Last modified: Monday, 2 May 2011 at 11:14pm