From Ballyshannon to Ballycastle

On Saturday last the under 12s and under 14s enjoyed a great day trip to the famed McQuillan's club of Ballycastle in the Glens of Antrim. Bright and early we left Father Tierney Park and headed for the North Antrim coast for a fun filled day of hurling. Due to a clash of fixtures a number of teams couldn't field in Ballycastle but the under 14s had two very competitive games, in the first game they played Glenshesk from the Armoy area of Antrim and they came out one point winners after tremendously fought battle on a 3-3 to 2-5 score line.

Next up were the current Antrim F?e na Gael champions who reached the Division 2 All-Ireland semi-final, Ballycastle. The Ballyshannon lads put up a great show against their Antrim counterparts who contained some of the famed Donnelly clan in their ranks. There were only three points in the game at half time but the physically stronger Antrim men pulled away in the second half and ran out worthy winners 4-8 to 2-6. Overall the lads put on a great display of hurling the standard of which surprised their Antrim hosts and drew plenty of praise from their mentors.

The under 12s were also in action and they played Ballycastle in a game of four quarters. The Aodh Ruadh team were more than a match for their hosts in the first half, but as the game went on the Antrim team got on top and ran out winners, but not before the under 12s gave a very good account of themselves.

Next it was up to the club rooms where pictures of championship winning McQuillan teams, Antrim teams and Ballycastle All-stars adorned the walls and the boys and their mentors soaked up the tradition of hurling embodied by this famed club. The host club provided us with beautiful soup and sandwiches which were enjoyed and scoffed by all. The lads then watched the Ballycastle senior team limber up before their Antrim senior semi-final against Loughgiel Shamrocks which they would later travel to see.

And so it was onto Armoy for the Antrim semi-final where there was a huge crowd present for this tough championship encounter. The Ballyshannon lads were very impressed by the standard of hurling on show and the passion of the crowd and the whole atmosphere of the occasion. After a closely fought first half Ballycastle were reduced to 13 men in the second half and the current Ulster champions Loughgiel made it through to the county final. Leaving the game we were delighted to meet up with Clare legend and double All Ireland medal winner Ollie Baker who spoke with the lads and happily posed for photographs with them.

As if that wasn't enough the group made their way back to the Central Bar and Restaurant in Ballycastle where the host Phillip McHenry, uncle of young Aodh Ruadh hurlers Brian, Aoise and Peadar, put on a tremendous feed for the lads. Another highlight was the appearance of Antrim Legend Terence 'Sambo' McNaughton who spoke with the lads and was very interested in learning of the lads achievements over the last few years. Then it was back on the bus for the long run home to Ballyshannon and another great day over for underage hurling in the club. Many thanks to the McQuillan's club in Ballycastle for hosting us and for their great hospitality. It is hoped to return it to them in the near future. Many thanks to all who helped make this trip possible especially Brian McHenry and Kevin McShane.

Aodh Ruadh Under 14 hurlers who played in Ballycastle
Aodh Ruadh Under 14 hurlers who played in Ballycastle

Aodh Ruadh under 12 hurlers with their manager Michael Ayres before their game against Ballycastle.
Aodh Ruadh under 12 hurlers with their manager Michael Ayres before their game against Ballycastle

Aodh Ruadh finest, John Rooney, having a chat with Clare legend and two time All-Ireland winner Ollie Baker.
Aodh Ruadh finest, John Rooney, having a chat with Clare legend and two time All-Ireland winner Ollie Baker.

Aodh Ruadh hurlers and their mentors Michael Ayres, Peter Horan and John Rooney pictured with Antrim Legend and former All-Star Terence 'Sambo' McNaughton who joined the lads for a chat in Ballycastle.
Aodh Ruadh hurlers and their mentors Michael Ayres, Peter Horan and John Rooney pictured with Antrim Legend and former All-Star Terence 'Sambo' McNaughton who joined the lads for a chat in Ballycastle.

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Young Aodh Ruadh hurlers with Clare legend and two time All-Ireland medal winner Ollie Baker and former Antrim star Gregory O'Kane, who are both selectors with the Antrim senior hurling team.

Last modified: Wednesday, 12 October 2011 at 11:30pm