By Adrian Ronan & Tom Hogan
Minors 2017 was a year that we were so looking forward to, a year where we had great hope and expectations because we knew we had the quality. This group had delivered so much up along throughout their juvenile careers so we were entitled to dream of a Minor A Title, either League/Championship. As individual players these lads gave so much to other teams in the club, colleges and county.
Sometimes these lads played 4 years out of their age, as 11 year olds hurling U14 and as 15 year olds hurling Minor. They represented the Club with their respective colleges, some enjoying huge success along the way. Whether it be St. Kieran’s, Kilkenny CBS, Callan CBS and of course Kilkenny Underage Development Squads they represented us with pride and 2017 was no different with 5 Graigue Ballycallan Minors on the Kilkenny Minor Panel, an excellent achievement for a rural club.
As a group they seldom complained, did what was asked and always put the club first (will that continue). 2017 presented us with a challenge and we, as Minor mentors were faced with the difficult task of how best to prepare the 2017 Minors. At a very early stage we knew the adult club needed support. The Junior and Intermediate numbers were low and without the Minors the adult club would suffer. The decision was made to train collectively (minors born in 1999) knowing Minors of 2017 may suffer but the long term welfare of the club had to be priority. The boys never complained and thankfully made a major contribution in supporting the Juniors and Intermediates of 2017.
At no stage was this the fault of the 2017 Minors, structures and systems meant we were left with little or no choice but to prepare with the Adult teams. Thankfully we had minors on county teams, college teams and club teams making vital contributions.
However, after 3 training sessions, 3 League matches, 1 challenge and 1 Championship match we could only go no more than in hope to Dunmore to play the Minor Roinn A Semi-Final v a mighty O’Loughlins. Here we were possibly meeting one of the best underage teams of the past few years, never beaten in their underage careers. O’Loughlins had 5/6 county minor representatives and could even afford to have Kilkenny U16 players as subs on their team. We did run them very close in the U16 Roinn A League final of 2015 so we were entitled to fancy our chances. However, preparations leading into game always meant we were running up a hill. Simply O’Loughlins were excellent.
Congrats to OLoughlins on winning the County Minor Final of 2017.
So, as 2017 finishes for Graigue Ballycallan minors we can’t forget the mighty years that we had together, for most this has been a journey for 12/13 years.
We had some great days from U6 at Danesfort Field days, Dicksboro Underage Tournaments, Conahy, Kilkenny Schools A and B Finals, U14 Feile Semi’s and Finals, U16 and Minor, we all had some great memories to cherish.
As a group this group achieved a lot, empathising ‘the way to get things done is not to mind who gets the credit for doing it ‘ each day a different man lead the group.
We live in a society driven by social media, Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat where self promotion and self praise is daily, this group did it on the field.
So lads, as parents, selectors, club men and supporters we thank you for all the enjoyment ye gave us throughout your juvenile careers. It was with huge regret the way we finished in Dunmore, ye deserved better.
To each and everyone THANK YOU.
To John Hoyne, Johnny Ronan and Maurice (Is there better clubmen in Ireland?) Huge thanks! To Dave and Philomena who lead the GBC club daily/hourly—Thanks.
To everyone else who helped – parents, supporters, referees, umpires, phsyios and doctors—Thank you.
Finally to the Minors of 2017 especially the lads who now finish as Juvenile players – Conor Flynn, Sean Ryan, Ciaran Hogan, Tommy Ronan, David Maher, Peter Murphy, Jesse Roberts, Ger Doheny, Tom Dunphy, Luke O’Brien and the lads who lost out most, the lads born in 2000 – Killan Egan, Aaron Brennan, Adam O’Brien, Alan Wall – yer no longer minors, yer now young men, enjoy the next phase of your hurling journey, we will be on yer shoulders supporting ye in any which way we can. GBC ABÚ!
To the rest of the minor panel who will represent Graigue Ballycallan at U17 level in 2018, without ye we wouldn’t have a team and with ye the group was a lot stronger, we wish ye the best of luck in 2018 Simon O’Dwyer, Finn Lanigan, Eamon Corcoran, Stephen Keoghan, Oisín Egan, Paddy Brennan, Eoin Delahunty, and Dan Cahill.
OH and an UNDER 19 LEAGUE/CHAMPIONSHIP is possible in 2018. Onwards and upwards.
Adrian Ronan/Tom Hogan