Ballyshannon hosts inaugural Peter O'Keefe tournament
On Saturday last the inaugural Connacht/Ulster under 15 hurling tournament in memory of the late Peter O'Keefe, a tireless worker for underage hurling in Aodh Ruadh and Donegal, was held in Ballyshannon. On a glorious day for hurling four teams took part in the event: Mayo, Tyrone and Donegal Under 15 squads and due to the late withdrawal of a team the Donegal under 16 squad took part also.
The first game to take place was the clash of Mayo and Donegal at under 15 level in Fr Tierney Park. It was a very evenly matched contest and with the strong, physically bigger Mayo men looking to open the tournament with a win scores were at a premium due to two great defences. A first half goal by Donegal proved crucial as they ran out winners by 1-3 to 0-3.
In Páirc Aoidh Ruaidh the Donegal under 16s, featuring five Aodh Ruadh players, had a comfortable win. The Donegal lads quickly got to grips with their Tyrone opponents.
Next up for the under 15s was a derby clash with ulster rivals Tyrone, again the Tyrone men were bigger physically than their Donegal counterparts, but the Tir Chonaill men settled quickly and began playing the better hurling and ran out deserving winners on a score line of 4-6 to 2-1.
Meanwhile in Páirc Aoidh Ruaidh the Mayo lads shocked the Donegal under 16s with a good win and their play was admired by the large number of hurling enthusiasts who had gathered. Mayo at this stage had shrugged off the effects of their long journey from south Mayo and were determined to bring the trophy back to Connacht.
The final games in the round robin series saw the Donegal under 15s, clash with their older comrades in the under 16 panel. At this stage the wind had risen and was a great advantage to the older Donegal boys in the first half. They were physically stronger and bossed the younger lads about going in at half time leading 3-3 to 0-3. The second half was a different story and the under 15s gave it everything and held their opponents score less and added 1-4 o their own tally, but the clock just ran out on them as they were on the attack chasing a winning goal. It was a very enjoyable day that showed there is plenty of talent with the small ball in Donegal which will hopefully be nourished and encouraged to grow.
Mayo beat Tyrone comfortably in their final game so the stage was now set for the final of the Connacht/Ulster under 15 tournament with a rematch of the opening game between Mayo and Donegal. Mayo were bitterly disappointed with their opening game and were determined to win the beautiful Corn ui Cuiv but if they were so too were Donegal, especially on the field where the late Peter O'Keefe gave so much of his time to the game he loved and passing on his knowledge to young Aodh Ruadh hurlers.
The final started at a whirlwind pace with Donegal settling well and playing with the aid of the breeze, the donegal defence was strong and the forwards after a few early misses began finding the range the half time score was 1-6 to 1-0 in favour of the Tir Chonaill men. There was to be no let up in the second half as the greater team work and determination of the Donegal lads came out on top. The hard work they had put in over the last couple of months was made worth it as they ran out comfortable winners on a score line of 3-10 to 3-0. There was great scenes of celebration at the end especially as the team had four Aodh Ruadh men on it, including the captain Jamie Brennan and manger John Rooney and selector Peter Horan. The other Aodh Ruadh members of the team were Colm Kelly, Eddie Lynch and Niall Harley.
Before the presentation the tournament co-ordinator, John Rooney, thanked all the teams who had taken part in the inaugural Connacht / Ulster tournament for the Corn Peadar ui Cuiv, he thanked Mayo and Tyrone for coming to the tournament. He especially thanked their managers Adrian Hession of Mayo and Peter Kerr of Tyrone for honouring the commitment they had made to him by coming to the tournament.
He thanked the O'Keefe family for allowing the trophy to be named after the late Peter, John spoke of the late, Peter who died last year, and of his great love of hurling and all the work he had done for underage hurling in Aodh Ruadh and for county teams in Donegal. He spoke of all the time he had given driving Aodh Ruadh players around Donegal and further afield to represent the county and he hoped they all appreciated it. He spoke of how proud Peter would have been of the day and of how he would have enjoyed all the great hurling and especially the great sportsmanship that was shown throughout the tournament.
John thanked the Donegal hurling board and especially chairman Donal McLaughlin for getting the beautiful trophy and for helping with organising the day. He spoke of his hope that this would be an annual event and that it would grow in stature and be on a par with the Buncrana Cup in football. He said he hoped to see all again in 2012. He spoke of how proud and grateful he was for the support of the Aodh Ruadh juvenile hurling committee with the running of the event from the ladies who prepared and served food throughout the day. As usual nobody left Father Tierney Park hungry after a hurling tournament. He thanked all those who acted as umpires and lines men and who helped out all day making it a day to remember and a fitting tribute to the late Peter.
He thanked the two referees who did a great job all day, John Doyle of Sligo and Aodh Ruadh's Eddie Lynch. He thanked the Aodh Ruadh Park committee for the use of the pitches and dressing rooms. Finally he thanked the Donegal under 15 team and his selectors John O'Loughlin of Buncrana and Aodh Ruadh's Peter Horan.
John Rooney then handed over to the late Peter's wife, Rosaleen O'Keefe. She spoke of how proud she and her family were that Peter was being honoured in this way, she thanked all who helped to make the day the great success it was. She thanked the Aodh Ruadh juvenile hurling committee and the Donegal Hurling board especially Donal McLaughlin for getting such a beautiful trophy for the tournament. She said she was delighted to see it engraved in Irish as that's what Peter would have wanted.
Rosaleen concluded by thanking all involved once again before handing over to her eldest son Peadar to present the winning trophy to Donegal's captain, Jamie Brennan, a Bundoran man who was introduced to hurling by the late Peter O'Keefe.
Jamie thanked the O'Keefe family and all who helped make the day the great success it was, he thanked the refs and called for three cheers for the beaten Mayo team which were loudly and warmly given. And so came to an end a great day's hurling with special pride for the Aodh Ruadh club with 11 of its under 16 hurlers having taken part in the tournament, with four players and the manager and a selector from the club. Maybe Peter O'Keefe's dream of a senior county title coming to Aodh Ruadh might be realised with these players playing a central role in it.
Last modified: Thursday, 29 November 2018 at 2:41pm