Easkey make it four-in-a-row at the Aodh Ó Dálaigh

The curtain came down on the under 12 season on Sunday with the hosting of the annual Aodh Ó Dálaigh tournament. In existence since 1982, this year's event was one of the best tournaments we've had. The following teams took part Tuam (Galway), Easkey (Sligo), Drumcliffe (Sligo), Manorhamilton (Leitrim), Keady (Armagh) and ourselves. We were blessed with a beautiful day weather wise and both Father Tierney Park and Páirc Aoidh Ruaidh were in splendid condition which led to great hurling being played by all teams. The competition was played on a round robin basis with games of 20 minutes, ensuring all teams had lots of hurling. In round one Easkey were victorious over Drumcliffe in the Sligo derby, a very young Aodh Ruadh team had a good win over Manorhamilton and Tuam had a narrow win over the Armagh boys. Round two saw a big win for Keady over Drumcliffe, holders Easkey had an easy win over Aodh Ruadh, while Tuam had their second win beating Manorhamilton. The top two teams were to contest the Aodh Ó Dálaigh final while third and fourth were to play for the Primary League shield so round three was going to be make or break for a number of teams. This round saw important victories for Keady over Manorhamilton, Easkey continued their pursuit of four-in-a-row of titles with a win over Tuam, while Drumcliffe had a narrow win over Aodh Ruadh. Round four saw a victory for Drumcliffe over Manorhamilton in a northwest Leitrim Derby, a determined Tuam team had a good win over Aodh Ruadh where their extra physical strength proved decisive and Easkey suffered their first defeat in this tournament in a number of years at the hands of Keady. The stage was now set for the final round and the final places were still to be decided, Tuam had a narrow win over Drumcliffe, Easkey had a facile win over Manorhamilton while Keady defeated the home team over in Páirc Aoidh Ruaidh.

The round robin section was now over and it was time for the calculators to come out as three of the teams finished on eight points, it took scoring difference to separate Tuam, Keady and holders Easkey. When all was totted up Easkey (+74) and Keady (+65) qualified for the Aodh Ó Dálaigh final and Tuam (+45) were through to the Primary League Final against Drumcliffe. Both these finals were full of everything that's great about hurling; Passion, skill and determination. In the Primary League final after a great game Tuam showed that goals win matches as they completed a two-in-a-row on a 2-3 to 0-3 scoreline.

The Aodh Ó Dálaigh final was a classic between two very evenly matched teams. The large crowd were treated to a classic where the first goal was to prove crucial and it was the West Sligo men who got it early in the first half. Every ball was ferociously contested and Easkey led at half time 1-2 to 0-1. The strength of the Easkey panel proved crucial in the second and after a titanic battle they ran out worthy winners 2-5 to 0-2 against a gallant Keady team who never gave up.

After the battles the presentations took place on the Park. Chairman of Aodh Ruadh Juvenile Hurling Committee John Rooney thanked the Daly family for allowing them to run this tournament annually, he thanked all the teams who took part on the day and thanked all the members of the juvenile committee who helped running the event. He called on the newly appointed Principal of Creevy NS Aoibhínn Kelly to present the Primary League Shield on behalf of all the local national schools in the area. Ms Kelly thanked all involved in organising the event, she complimented all the teams on their skill levels, as a Sligo woman she was happy to see Sligo teams in both finals. She presented the runners up medals to Drumcliffe and then called on the Tuam captain to accept the Shield on behalf of the Galway team.

John Rooney then thanked all those who helped out as umpires and linesmen and thanked all the refs who did a great job which was made easier by the attitude of all the teams who just wanted to play hurling, the refs were Peter Horan, Niall McCready, Ciaran Rami and John Rooney.

Michael Daly then spoke on behalf of the Daly family. He spoke of his late father Hugh Daly in whose memory the tournament is played, he complimented all the teams and officials as well as the local National Schools who promote Gaelic Games in the area. He spoke of how this tournament started off as a local town league, but over the last number of years it has grown to be one of the most prestigious tournaments in the northwest characterised by the quality of teams it attracts. He presented the runners up medals to a great Keady team, before handing over the Aodh Ó Dálaigh Shield to the joint captains of Easkey, he acknowledged the fact that they had completed the four-in-a-row and described them as the Kilkenny of the northwest.

Before finishing John Rooney thanked the Aodh Ruadh Park Committee and the club for the wonderful facilities which we all enjoyed. He described them as being a major factor in their ability to run tournaments and attract good quality teams, he thanked caretaker Johnny Gallagher for all his help on the day. All agreed that as always hurling was the real winner again in Ballyshannon today. From the pitch it was up to Aras Aoidh Ruaidh for welcome refreshment's for all which as always were provided by our very loyal mothers and we're very grateful to them for their continued support at all our tournaments.

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Last modified: Sunday, 28 September 2014 at 10:55pm