While the debate continues as to whether the underage system should switch to U-13, 15 & 17 it's interesting to note that as i sifted through Martin Bourke's history of Templemore, Clonmore and Killea for snippets on U-14 hurling that's exactly the system that existed in the sixties and early seventies. The switch to the even numbers appears to occur in 1972 with Templemore Eire Og entering teams in the U-12 and U-16 grades. From 1973 onwards we affiliated teams at all grades while in the same year Killea held an U-14 hurling league. Little or no success followed but in 1977 we contested the Mid Urban/Rural title losing out to Moycarkey in the final where Ger Maher, Paudie Hoctor, Alan Hanley, Peadar Russell and Conor Scott shone brightest. Perhaps this was the spur the underage hurling needed as they made no mistake the following year when they defeated the Sars in the final and repeated the trick in 1980 by defeating Holycross. County success proved elusive however and the same fate befell the Mid Champions of 1999 and 2008. But Saturday in Boherlahan put all that to bed as we finally got our hands on the John Flanagan cup. Most finals are hard won and Saturday was no different as South Champions Mullinahone threw all their might at us. But this wasn't the first time we were asked a question this year and once more we came up with the right answers. We had to re-group following our first round defeat to Holycross, Drom had us pinned to the wall in the Mid semi-final while Durlas Og came like a Tsunami in the second half of the Mid decider. We got our way out of every corner to advance to Saturday's decider but once again we found a tight corner and were on the back foot in the opening quarter. Dylan and Cormac won the toss (again) and for the third game in a row we played with the aid of a strong breeze in the opening half. An excellent Jamie Ormond point from play gave the scoreboard man his first job while Ciaran O'Shea added another following a lovely centre from Kyle Whelan. The next ten minutes were completely dominated by Mullinahone who landed four points on the trot to take a two-point lead at the first water break. Brackens looked in trouble at this stage but remained calm to put in a cracking second quarter. A Jamie point from a free was followed by Ciaran's second and third from play to give us the lead. A Mullinahone free levelled matters briefly before Jamie's second from play restored our lead. Great defensive work in attack from Aodhna Barrett and Kyle Whelan saw the ball break to Cian Sheedy who flashed a great ball across the square which broke off Ciaran O'Shea into the path of Sean Purcell who pulled first time to land the only major of the game. It was a huge tonic just before the break and sent us in four up (1-6 to 0-5). When we look back on this game there can be no doubt that our third quarter performance into the wind was the winning of this game as we outscored the red and green by 0-5 to 0-1. Two Jamie frees extended the lead before Cian Sheedy ended his scoring drought when he landed the score of the day from way out on the left wing. Ciaran O'Shea then notched his fourth from play with another beauty, this time from the right wing, to put us eight up (1-11 to 0-6) entering the last quarter. The forwards had built the lead and now it was time for the backs to defend it. There's good hurlers in Mullinahone and they showed their mettle in the closing stages as they halved the lead with five minutes to play. Brackens dug deep however with Joint Captains Cormac Bourke and Dylan Quinlan leading by example while the full back line of Billy Collier, Robert Crampton and Dayle Hogan had no notion of conceding a goal. Wing backs Tom Corcoran and Robert Lee, as they did all year, repelled attack after attack while the engine room of Josh Quinlan, Jack Marnell and Aodhna Barrett made sure that any progress towards the Brackens goal would be hard earned. The last long shrill of Padraig Greene's whistle signalled great scenes of joy as the near misses of the last 40 odd years were all forgotten about (1-11 to 0-10). To Anthony Marnell, PJ Corcoran, Shane Scully, Neil Quinlan, Tom Murphy, Willie Whelan and all their backroom team we say congratualtions on a job very well done. To all the players involved we also say well done. You played and fought magnificently all year long and deservedly earned the title of County Champions - best U-14 hurlers in the Premier County in 2020. And as the triumphant cavalcade passed through the Town Square and wound it's way down Marian Road and up to Pairc Shileain my mind wandered back to Martin Bourke's book and all the names of players and selectors of yesteryear who soldiered for the same cause. Some still living and some beyond the clouds. Saturday was for all of you too. Brackens Abu
Team and Scorers: Cormac Bourke Billy Collier Robert Crampton Dayle Hogan Robert Lee Dylan Quinlan Tom Corcoran Josh Quinlan Jack Marnell Jamie Ormond (0-6, 4f) Kyle Whelan Sean Purcell (1-0) Aodhna Barrett Ciaran O'Shea (0-4) Cian Sheedy (0-1).
Mid and County Tipperary U-14 A Hurling Champions 2020