Galway star David Burke makes presentations at Aodh Ruadh

The Juvenile Hurling Committee held their annual presentation night last Friday in Aras Aoidh Ruaidh. This year's special guest was Galway hurling captain and current All-Star David Burke. Chairman of the Juvenile Hurling Committee John Rooney acted as MC on the night. He thanked David Burke for taking time out of his busy schedule to come up for the underage hurlers special evening. Rooney said that while numbers playing hurling had dropped in the club and spoke of the difficulties they had fielding at some age groups it was a successful year for underage hurling in the club as county titles were claimed at under 12 and under 16 and the under 14s had qualified for the National Féile na nGael finals in Tipperary. He spoke of the pride the juvenile committee had in all their teams and explained that the night was about recognising the achievements of all the teams.

The first group of players to come forward to accept their medals from David Burke were the under 8s. Manager John Rooney spoke of how dedicated this group of lads were, the majority of whom have been hurling for three years now and are moving up to under 10 this year, they fielded two or three teams at each blitz this year and won all their games. He encouraged them to continue working hard at their game.

Under 10 manager Peter Horan was the next speaker, he gave details of the under 10 season. Numbers were disappointing at times, but they were very committed, took part in all the blitzes and competed well, with the majority of players being under 9.

John Rooney then called forward under 12 manager Denis Daly to outline the achievements his squad in 2016. Denis explained how they had worked hard all season and as a result got their rewards. They claimed the under 12 title, defeating Saint Eunan's in the final, our first success at this level. He went on to explain how they had won the Aodh Ó Dálaigh tournament defeating Galway's Abbeyknockmoy in the final, a result that impressed Burke. The under 12s proudly came forward to accept their county medals.

The under 14s only had a panel of 17 players yet they had a relatively successful season which their manager John Larkin outlined to the assembled crowd. The highlight of their season was qualifying for Féile na nGael in Tipperary where they acquitted themselves well and were worthy recipients of their Féile na nGael medals. Senan Rooney, captain of this squad, then made a presentation to John Larkin and his management team on behalf of the parents and players.

Under 16 manager John Rooney then spoke of the great season the under 16s had, despite only having a panel of 16 players, he spoke of how delighted all involved in underage hurling were when these lads claimed the Division 2 under 16 championship title and lift the Pat Butler Cup. A former Aodh Ruadh member who was a great worker for underage hurling in the club, and on that point he spoke of how great it was to see other tireless workers for underage hurling over the years Billy Finn, John Larkin, Owen Roe O'Neill and Kerry Ryan present on the night. A young under 16 squad then came forward to accept their medals.

The final team to be recognised on the night were the minors. Manager Peter Horan explained the team only had 18 players. Despite missing a number of players at different times during the season, they did well fielding for all their games and losing the B final to a strong Burt team. That finished the presentations to the teams.

John Rooney then spoke of the players who had represented the club in Development Squads. He encouraged more lads to try out for these squads. He said no matter what grade it was, every lad should be proud to wear their county jersey. Aodh Ruadh were represented on the under 12 squad by Aaron Cullen, Aaron Neilan, Danny Breen and Ryan Keenaghan who took part in the Croke Park activity day. Our under 14 representatives were Senan Rooney and Nathan Owens-Kelly while Eoin Doherty and Adam Rami were our under 15 representatives. We were delighted to have three lads, Stephen Anderson, Conall Sweeny and Brian McHenry on the county minor squad who won the Ulster Minor Division 2 league title. All our county players were presented with plaques by David Burke, and he also presented the minors with their Ulster League medals.

David Burke was then called on to address the large crowd, he spoke of how delighted he was to be asked to come to this event, he gave a great talk covering many aspects such as importance of club, family support, his club and county career, how impressed he was with Aodh Ruadh's facilities. He encouraged all the lads to continue working at their game and encouraged them all to try and represent their county. The final presentation of the night saw John Rooney present David Burke with a lovely piece of Belleek Pottery on behalf of the Juvenile Committee. Rooney said he hoped to see Aoghan Ó Fearghail present Burke with the McCarthy Cup in September.

The next stage of the evening saw refreshments for all present thanks to our great mothers, and lots of autographs and photographs with the Galway star who was a great ambassador for our great game, having time for everyone young and old. The final part of the evening was the eagerly awaited question and answer session, where all present got a great insight into life and times of a leading inter-county hurler. He showed himself to as comfortable dealing with the questions as he is on the hurling field and no question was dodged. It was a great opportunity for all to hear about how players prepare for big games, nutrition, most difficult opponents, highlights and disappointments. It was a great ending to a brilliant night. Saturday morning saw David Burke take a great coaching session. First off he did a session in the hurling wall which was a great success. He was very impressed with the wall and how it was finished. From the wall it was onto the field where for over a hour and a half he conducted a great session from which our players and coaches learnt a lot. All in all we had a great weekend with one of the legends of the game who has a left a lasting impression on everyone who met him over the weekend. This was David Burke's first time to visit Donegal and hopefully not the last time we'll see him in Father Tierney Park.

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Last modified: Monday, 9 January 2017 at 10:29pm