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Clubs come from far and wide to the Aodh Ó Dálaigh

On Sunday we hosted our annual Aodh Ó Dálaigh under 12 tournament. In existence since 1982, this tournament has gone from strength to strength over the years. This year saw an inter-county team make its debut in the tournament in the form of the Cavan under 12 development squad who fielded two teams, other teams who took part were Tuam (Galway) Tooreen (Mayo) Easkey (Sligo) - who fielded two teams, Four Masters and host club Aodh Ruadh in all over 120 children took part in this year's event.

The following two groups emerged after the draw, Group one: Easkey, Cavan, Tuam and Four Masters. Group two featured Tooreen, Cavan, Aodh Ruadh and Easkey. The tournament was played in a round robin format in the group stages. The opening games saw wins for Easkey over Cavan and Four Masters over Tuam in group one, while over in Páirc Aoidh Ruaidh a very young Aodh Ruadh team had a great win over Tooreen and Easkey beat Cavan.

The second round of games were all close battles as all the teams were starting to play some very good hurling. In group one Easkey beat a young but very skilful Tuam team, while Four Masters continued to show the good from that saw them reach the under 12 county final recently, beating Cavan. The noise coming from Páirc Aoidh Ruaidh indicated that Aodh Ruadh had recorded their second win beating the Breffni men, while Easkey beat Tooreen in a Connacht derby.

The last round of games were vigorously contested as the final placings in groups were to be decided by the outcome of these games, in Father Tierney Park, Easkey beat Four Masters to claim top spot in Group one, while Tuam and Cavan played out a brilliant draw with both teams giving their all and Cavan equalising with a goal in the last minute from a 21 yard free.

Aodh Ruadh's winning ways ended in their final game after a titanic battle with Easkey where the host club went down by one point after a brilliant game. Tooreen beat Cavan to claim their spot in that group.

At this stage all of the youngsters had played 80 minutes of hurling and were mad for more, the stage was now set for the semi-finals in both the Aodh Ó Dálaigh Shield and the Primary Schools Shield. in the Aodh Ó Dálaigh Shield semi-finals in the Park, Aodh Ruadh faced Easkey 1 while Four Masters played Easkey 2. These were two great games where players showed no signs of tiredness as every ball was fought for with the same vigour as was shown in Croke Park the previous evening. There were victories for Donegal and Sligo in the form of Easkey 1 and Four Masters.

The shield semi-finals were played in Páirc Aoidh Ruaidh and there was no shortage of skill and determination on display there as all four teams were determined to make the Primary Schools Shield final. After two great battles the scene was set for an all Connacht final as Tuam and Tooreen emerged victors.

After a very long day of hurling the stage was now set for the two finals, the Aodh Ó Dálaigh final featured Easkey with their two teams combining to play Four Masters as they made their bid for a three-in-a-row of titles in this tournament and Tuam lining up to do battle against Tooreen in the shield final. The strength of hurling in Easkey and the benefit of having such a large panel showed as tiredness caught up on Four Masters who played five games throughout the day with the bare minimum of 11 players as they had no subs. They battled gamely but Easkey ran out convincing winners.

The Primary Schools Shield final was much more entertaining game and was fought out between two very young and skilful players, the commitment shown by both teams was commented upon by many present and the honesty in the young players was to be admired as they fought for every ball and didn't look for any soft frees. It was one of the best games of hurling played in Father Tierney Park at any level and was real end to end stuff as neither team showed any signs of having played two and a half hours hurling. At the end Tuam ran out winners to the delight of their players and the large number of parents who travelled to support them.

From the battle field it was up to Aras Aoidh Ruaidh where the mothers of the Aodh Ruadh lads provided food for over 200 people. It was great to see all teams mixing together and recounting the great tussles they had enjoyed all day. It was fitting that there was so many kids talking about their hurling battles in a room where the legendary Davy Fitzgerald told us in 2010 to live out our dreams and told us that he would get to the top in the hurling world within the next few years. All these youngsters have their dreams to be the best hurlers they can be and we hope to see some of them grace Croke Park in the future and no matter level they play at, we hope that they all get great enjoyment from playing unquestionably the greatest game in the world.

John Rooney, Chairman of the Aodh Ruadh Juvenile Hurling Committee welcomed all teams to the tournament and spoke of how it was founded in 1982 in memory of the late Hugh Daly. He spoke of the great GAA legacy that Hugh Daly had in Donegal and Aodh Ruadh circles and how it was carried forward by all of his family. He welcomed the Daly family and spoke of the great commitment they gave this tournament and how Hugh's son former Ulster Council President always takes time out from his busy schedule to attend this tournament. He spoke of how this tournament was founded by Billy Finn, Owen Roe O'Neill, Tom Daly and the late Seamus Grimes and of how great it was to see Billy Finn there today, another who never misses this tournament.

He spoke of the work the local primary schools do in helping the local club promoting hurling in the area, and he called on the Príomhoide of Gaelscoil Éirne in Ballyshannon Niamh Nic Dhiarmada on behalf of all the local national schools to present the Primary Schools Shield. She spoke of how impressed she was at the standard of hurling on display and the discipline of all teams She called on the Tooreen captain to come over to accept the runner up medals. She then called forward the Tuam captain to accept the Primary Schools Shield which he did to huge applause, this victory meant a lot to this very hard working hurling club.

John thanked the very small, but hard working juvenile hurling committee who helped make this tournament such a success, he thanked all the local parents who provided all the food he also thanked the referees on duty throughout the day who did a great job in letting the games flow, Peter Horan, Chris Kelly, Sylvester Maguire and John himself. He then called on Tom Daly to come forward and make the presentation of the Aodh Ó Dálaigh shield. Tom spoke of how important this tournament was to the Daly family and thanked all involved in organising the tournament. He spoke of the high level of the skill shown by all the teams. He spoke of the great year hurling had experienced and the efforts being made to promote the game worldwide. He congratulated all clubs involved and praised them all for keeping hurling alive in their clubs. He called forward the Four Masters captain to accept the runners up medals. He then spoke of the great achievement it was by Easkey to complete the three-in-a-row and praised the efforts and hard work they are putting into hurling in West Sligo. He then presented the shield to their winning captain. The Easkey manager Michael Gordon thanked all involved in organising this tournament, and spoke of its importance to them and how it had provided the foundation to their winning of All-Ireland Féile titles in 2012 and 2013.

John Rooney finished off by thanking the local Park Committee and wished everyone a safe trip home and look forward to seeing all in 2014. Thanks also to Claire Flood and the Aodh Ruadh minor girls who moved their game against Four Masters to Bundoran facilitating the use of four pitches for this tournament.

Last modified: Monday, 1 June 2020 at 8:44pm