Some nerd somewhere once decided that grief had 5 stages. These are the kind of things you need to know if you are to keep up with the razor sharp gags that fly around your average, well-educated Realt Dearg dressing room. For reasons that will become abundantly clear, I became familiar with grief in the aftermath of this year's Realt Dearg Railway cup. So as I lay tossing and turning in my Ronan Moloney #7 pajamas, images of a crying Conor Maharaj and a celebrating Mike Richardson flashing through my mind, the events of Saturday, November 24th ordered themselves into the following, manic, nonsensical match report/therapeutic rant.
The day began with the LeinConnsterMURICA team in good spirits. Defending champions and quietly confident of maintaining their rightful place at the top of the Realt Dearg tree. There had been murmurings in the build up of Munster's cute hoors pulling sly strokes in previous years, but these were men we knew, men we trained with. Everything would be left on the pitch but both sides would keep their honor. We foolishly told ourselves Munster could be trusted. But just like most of Moloney's attempts to quote movies, we were wrong. Denial took over when we saw the legendary goalkeeper Gary Thompson amble over to the dressing room. We didn't believe our eyes either when Tadhg McCarthy was produced with little or no warning. (If only every other Corkman in the club could match some of Tadhg's performances). But their presence was all too real upon throw in. Maybe we should have made greater efforts to have our own legendary Gary between the sticks. (Has anyone checked on Hurney lately??)
Denial was not just visible on our side, Podge Buckley bravely (foolishly?) ploughing into tackle after tackle head first, ignoring his doctor's warning to take up a non contact sport. Early on one of his girlish screams distracted the defense long enough to allow Limericks's chatterbox in chief, Gavan Manifold, to sneak in for a goal. Despite the best efforts of Connulleinstercali's very own Captain America Eric Lee and the always hard but fair Ciaran Gough, the second goal came just as we had dragged ourselves back into the game, Waterford getting in on the act as Bernard Herlihy swung like his life depended on it and mind-bogglingly managed to pick out Gavan in front of goal who bagged his second.
Of all the stages, anger was the one which we all came out to see, and no-one was disappointed. With Captain Anger himself taking his place in the Ulleinsteracht full forward line (Hi Murph!) and the general surliness with which Munster men carry themselves, it is the primary emotion on show in most training sessions, not to mention end of year 'Friendlies'. From the moment a totally accidental clash with the Gougher left Podge in a quivering heap, the game was full of flashpoints. Club secretary Kieran 'Mushie' O'Brien threatened to send Shane Murphy back to Meath and Conor Maharaj came in for some heavy tackling from a clearly intimidated Munster backline. On the other side similarly questionable methods were used to subdue the lively Kevin Cormican in the middle of the field. Left with half a hurl after a particularly enthusiastic clash of the ash, this reporter attempted to bring some love back to the game with a bear hug on his senior PRO that was misconstrued as a foul (The first and only time Clare got the better of Galway this year). With such steam rising from ears around the pitch, Tadhg and Conor's unerring accuracy from placed balls kept the score board ticking over, and at half time the goals gave Munster a 4 point lead.
The key question surrounding the game... when exactly did the bargaining begin? Rumours of Brendan Walsh visiting the referee midweek with Mike 'Luca Brasi' Richardson, and making the official an offer he couldn't refuse are yet to be confirmed. The man in the middle was certainly in no mood for bargaining with the ConnulleinUSA men, Niall O'Keefe getting little change as he was repeatedly swarmed and dragged by Munster backs banding together like Hyenas (they'll say like lions but really it was more like hyenas). The Galway man's aerial dominance was not rewarded but he did raise hopes with a stunner of a point early in the second half. Indeed there was much bargaining with the lord at both ends of the pitch as Jamie O'Hara and Stephen Casey wondered what they had to do to be rewarded with goals after cutting in along the endline. The by now heavily concussed Podge did manage to strike a deal late in the game, begging his clearly superior marker to 'Go Loose' in exchange for promises to buy the first round in the Terenure Inn. The game had opened up at that stage and was there for taking, and Lenconster were within touching distance as the last 5 minutes approached, until a knight in shining armour appeared.....
I only mention this knight, because sometimes, there's a man. I won't say a hero, because what's a hero? But sometimes there's a man, and I'm talking about Ruairi Henchy here. Sometime's there's a man, and he's the man for his time and place. And when this game was there to be won Henchy was the man. (Hey Ronan, that's from The Big Lebowski, you've probably never heard of it). Just as the scoreboard tightened up, a loose ball in the Munster forward line led to a free, some will say a 21, some will say 40 yards out, but the Clareman had only one thing on his mind, fizzing the sliothar into the top corner with a strike that would have made Paul Flynn drool. When he added another point from the sideline, Billy Dooley style, taking his total to something silly like 1-6, the men from NotMunster began to feel their race was run. The non-concussed Munster players leapt in celebration at the final whistle, reclaiming the trophy they were too bitter to hand over last year anyway.
Here's where this theory falls down, because we will never accept this. It's 347 days until the 2019 Railway Cup.
*All joking aside, can someone check on Podge?
If the positive and loving atmosphere in the club wasn't clear enough from the report, why not come down and see for yourself? Realt Dearg are always recruiting and no matter what the level there's games for everyone, tell your friends!
All roads lead to Drimnagh Castle on Sunday 7 October where the Stars will take on Skerries Harps in the Junior B championship semi-final at 11 am.
Réalt Dearg will be seeking to qualify for their second successive county final, with the added incentive of promotion to the Junior A championship for 2019 at stake. Games between these two teams have always been keenly contested and another entertaining match promises to be in store on Sunday. As this is the biggest game in the still short history of the club, all support would be greatly appreciated.
Realt Dearg C 2-12
Certain media outlets in the west of the country may have spent last week trying to claim a certain Mr.Kane, but for those of us hurling out of Drimnagh Castle, there'e only one Harry that matters, and he really is one of our own. We'll come to his scoring exploits later, because the real story of a day described as "bastard hot" by the referee came in the return of some of the club's former stalwarts, Harry chief among them, to get the C men onto the field.
Struggling all week and with a bare 15 set out in the programme (email, whatever), Kev McEvoy would have been biting his nails at the prospect of having to forfeit the game. But less than a decade into it's existence Realt Dearg showed that it has developed the sense of community that keeps clubs all over the country going as Mick Butler, Harry, Paddy Ryan Ger Kennedy and Kieran Parrock answered the call to drag the squad numbers to a frankly phenomenal 19 considering the clubs commitments elsewhere. Rumours abound that Conor O'Droma and Liam Lanigan, at this point a figure known only in myth to about 50% of our players, shed a tear of pride in private at the commitment shown as reports came through of Butler setting his GPS for Swords when leaving Tipp at 4AM, Harry leaving his bed for the first time since last years county final defeat, and Parrock sneaking out of the house under the guise of going to watch a match, hurls hidden in the boot of the car the night before. Sure a match is the best thing for a muscle injury anyway, everyone knows that.
There was still a match to be played, and once the reinforcements had been welcomed reality started to set in as a combination of the 24 degree heat, and tales of Fingallians 12-18 to 0-2 victory in their previous game pointed to an uphill task. The opening 30 minutes were as frustrating as any the C men have played this season, the accuracy of the opposition free taker and some really impressive scoring from distance saw the Northsiders run up a phenomenal score of 3-13 by the break. A smart combination of pacey youngsters to do the running and some to and accomplished veterans to do the scoring stood Fingallians in good stead despite some genuinely good work from Realt Dearg around the field. 2 point attempts that dropped short and ultimately ended up in the net put an unfair gloss on the scoreboard as Dave Sheehan, Ger Kennedy and Niall Heavy got some nice scores to lift the Star's spirits.
The suspicion was always there that some of Fingallians more accomplished stickmen might not have the full 60 minutes in their legs, and as the second half began, RD set about making use of the wind to eat into the lead. Parrock, satisfied with his tan after an unexpected sunbathing session in the opening half, added some much needed physicality to the full back line, and added a super pointed free from inside his own half in his cameo before his injury got the better of him, Caoimhin moving from full forward to keep up the good work and hold Fingallians goalless in the second half.
The scores started to come at the other end, and Mick Butler's arrival at half time added much needed fresh legs. The Tipp man was desperately close to getting through for a goal, inches away from controlling a pass from Dave S as we got a good hold in the game. With Finners and Cillian, the David Burke and Johnny Coen of junior F, battling wildly in the middle, sending grass, hurls and passes flying in all directions, the ball started to find its way into our forwards more often than not, and the scoreboard ticked over nicely with Dave rifling in a peach of a free Paul Flynn style from 30 metres out.
With Fingallians funnelling players back, the middle sector was getting messy, and the wise old, for once not concussed, head of Paddy Ryan came in to oversee matters and keep the RD half back line and midfield in order, but the real star of the show arrived at the other end of the field. They say life begins at 40 and at 41 Harry Stone proved that his hurling career is only getting going. The oldest player on the pitch by 1 year (take THAT, Fingallians no.13) the Ballyragget man announced his arrival on the pitch immediately as he got in front of his man, controlled first time, wisely ignored the calls of a wandering wing back not known for his shooting accuracy, and sent a sweet strike right over the black spot to rally the troops even further.
Genuinely dominant all over the field at this stage, (reluctant hat-tip to Maharaj and Brendan for all of that fitness work) the Stars just didn't quite have the scoring power to get back within striking distance, but they did manage one score that will be talked about for years to come from the Old Schoolhouse in Swords to The Terenure Inn. The details of the goal have become blurred in the mists of time, but in the hope of the legend becoming fact, I've been instructed to print the legend.
With time running out the returning Harry took it upon himself to turn the game around. Switching out to the forty, he plucked a puck out from the sky and embarked on a slaloming run through the Fingallians defence. All but paralyzed by fear, his enemies fell before him and by the time he reached the 21 they were resigned to their fate, as Kilkenny's favourite son lashed a rasper into the top corner.***
A truly crazy game of two halfs then to kick off the heatwave, with good performances all over the field from old heads and recent recruits alike. Richie Phelan held down of the middle of the defence throughout, Cillian and Brian Finn ran themselves into the ground and, hard as it is for me to say, used the ball intelligently throughout, Dave finished with 2-4 and Caoimhin was commanding when called upon at both ends. In reality 2 quick goals at the end of the first half put this game beyond reach when we deserved to be much closer. That 60 minute performance is still just out of reach for this team, but we're edging closer every week and next up is Civil Service, who we owe a beating after an epic league game ended in a 1 point defeat.
***Alternate ending, after a desperate scramble in the square Dave Sheehan lashed the full back out of the way and forced the ball over the line. Let the people believe what they want to believe.
Realt Dearg C:
Bernard Hurlihy, James Brooks (Kieran Parrock), Ross Kelly, Gavin Deacon, Dave Lynch (Paddy Ryan), Richie Phelan, Gary Walsh, Cillian Thornton, Brian Finn, Colman O'Shea (Mick Butler), David Kenneally, Ger Kennedy, Dave Sheehan, Caoimhin Concannon, Niall Heavey (Harry "Heart of" Stone)
Discipline, Management, Self Awareness, Wisdom, Trust....-Sun Tzu's 5 characteristics of a leader.
It's doubtful whether Cillian Thornton or Kieran 'Mushie' O'Brien have heard of Sun Tzu, (or any writer not featured Garfield books or the RTE guide) but if they did, they would most likely conclude that China's answer to Ger Loughnane, "hadn't a fuckin clue" as Mushie might put it. As most junior hurlers will know, leadership boils down to 3 things: Humility (no point having a big head when playing AHL 9), keeping a cool head throughout the inevitable crises that will arrive throughout every game, and good old fashioned pig headed ignorance. The Stars would need to source all 3 to emerge with a victory against Wild Geese, as they found themselves robbed of their management team of Kev McEvoy and Leon Flanagan.
Maintaining humility wasn't an issue, as the stand in manager informed his troops that he had been frustrated in his attempts to drop himself, and his stand in captain attempted to set up the Drimnagh nets without the use of the step ladder he didn't realise existed. As for cool heads, the first crisis of the day was ably handled as a rapidfire reduction from 15 starters to 13 was completed with minimum fuss, special thanks to Dave Lynch for tweaking a hamstring in the warm up and Dave Kenneally for not appearing, which admittedly make the job easier.
Amazingly, and I can't stress enough how uncharacteristic this is, this AHL9 clash started in a blaze, Shane Casey shot a superb opening point over his shoulder only to see it cancelled out by a goal by the Geese no.12, who I'm reliably informed by shemozzle goes by 'Unknown Player'. But there must be a strain of Tipperary blood in these Geese, as they were most vulnerable when on a high, and their goal was soon cancelled out by Casey scrambling a goal in response, before Eric Lee, bursting through the defence and remembering to only catch the ball twice ;) , was inches away from a goal of the season contender, coming away with a point to make it 1-2 to 1-1.
Things were going well at this stage and RD got another boost with the arrival of the cavalry on the sideline in the form B team boss Colm Gahan and general party crasher Mushie on the sideline, leaving the Cs with leadership quality no.3, ignorance, coming out the Cian O'Brien. In fact, ignorance overload started to afflict the Stars, Gahan and Mushie uncharacteristically losing their cool on the sideline as a chop on Casey at one end went unpunished and led to Geese's second goal at the other, (Unknown Player no.12 still a thorn in our side) while the ref failed in his attempts to scold the team captain when the coach for the day forgot that he had vacated the role and the captain for the day forgot that he had accepted it.
To be fair to the stand in skipper, he was dealing with his own problems, revealing himself to be a bigger goose than any of the opposition, equally adept at shooting wides off left and right. As for the men who could actually make an impact on the game, John Tarpey continued his return in style, winning plenty of ball in the half forward line and finishing RDs second goal with the entire Geese full backline groping him from all angles. Tarps kept the scoreboard moving along with Casey and the roving Kieran Parrock, who finished with 4 points, 3 from further out than the average puck out goes at this level. He'll be a superstar when he gives up the fags and has the energy to 'take his 4 steps' as our beloved A team boss begs us to do. Paulie Warren's own return from injury is gathering momentum, and he became the fifth, and only effective leader of the day, giving the half time team talk as the brains trust of Gahan, Mush and CT amended the line up.
There was one problem they couldn't solve however, and while Michael Corleone might have advised us to keep our friends close, but our enemies closer, it wasn't a whole lot of good to us on Sunday as no one could keep anywhere close to the mysterious Player 12, whose teammates confirmed (i) Was playing his first game this year, and (ii) Is a cracking player. Finishing with 3-5, and like Nicky English in '89, he ruined the game by getting too many scores. The unfortunate Declan O'Beirne, chosen on the basis of being by far the closest thing we had in terms of mobility, was tasked with tracking the danger man, and his usual driving runs from midfield were sorely missed as he battled to keep him under wraps.
The rare luxury of having a stacked bench kept the stars in contention though, Niall Heavey coming on to score a point from a not-quite-Parrock-but-impressive-nonetheless distance, and Brian Finn had his now standard all action, madcap cameo. Could he be in line for a start? Hopefully not. The James brothers, Egan and Brooks, added some much needed fresh legs to the forward line, Brooks especially bringing a great save from the opposition goalie. Pride of place among the replacements though was former manager Ross Kelly, showing he is still the spiritual leader of this team, the highlight of his 20 minutes arriving with an attempted decapitation of you know who in the Wild Geese half forward line. I was working on a Henry the Eighth leadership/decapitation reference, but I'm not sure Ross would have appreciated it.
Ultimately the scoring bursts of the utterly out of place wing forward in Black and yellow were too much to reel in, although a series of goal chances, if taken, could have made it a much tighter affair. In addition to James' unlucky late effort, Casey and Tarpey could both have had penalties, while the aforementioned gander of a temporary captain shot straight at the keeper from all of 3 yards out after being set up by Tarpey, and then kinda fell over after being set up by Eric. Our last score arrived courtesy of Cillian heroically leading the charge, winning a sympathy free on his 4th attempt to rise the ball.
The final score of 4-11 to 2-8 was cruel on the C men, as we add another story of frustration to the list, but Fingallians in championship next week provides an opportunity to wipe away any bad memories and set us up sweetly for a big July/August. Let's hope there's no lions being led by donkeys on Sunday, we miss you Kev and Leon.
Realt Dearg C: Caoimhin Concannon, Gavin Deacon, Kieran Parrock, Richie Phelan, Cillian Thornton, Gavin O'Connell, Declan O'Beirne, Paul Warren, Gary Walsh, Eric Lee, John Tarpey, Jack Patton, Shane Casey.
Subs on: Brian Finn, Ross Kelly, James Brooks, Niall Heavy, James Egan.
Junior B Victory
unior B Championship: Drimnagh Castle, 22 April 2018
Réalt Dearg 2-22 v 0-7 O’Tooles
The official record will show that this was Réalt Dearg’s first foray into the Dublin Junior B championship. A particularly robust challenge from (redacted by club counsel) ensured that a premature end was put to proceedings in Cloghran on the previous Tuesday evening. The club would like to extend its well wishes to Whitehall for the speedy recovery of their stricken full-forward and look forward to acquaintances being renewed when the game is refixed. No doubt though that the Men in Black were about to embark on a perfectly-timed comeback to gain a maiden victory when the tardy responsiveness of the North Dublin ambulance service was put to the test in the fading spring light. Any questions or queries as to the nature of the events which are alleged to have occurred or indeed not to have occured that evening can be directed to the appropriate legal representatives.
So with no more to be said about all that, attention turned to Drimnagh on Sunday morning where the Stars men were scheduled to entertain O’Tooles...and what brilliant entertainment it proved to be in the end. But it so very nearly was another false dawn. A gloriously bright early spring morning awaited all who attended Drimnagh Castle for the 11 am start. That said, it looked like patrons would be disappointed as only ten O’Tooles men had arrived by the scheduled throw-in time. Pre-match entertainment had to be confined to the home dressing room. Ciaran Gough’s utter perplexion at being informed he had contacted management to say he wasn’t able to attend drew considerable mirth - even requiring a consult of his own phone to confirm his own recollection of events. Mossy O’Mahoney’s homage to John McEnroe sporting a fetching white headband was also noteworthy. His ability to take part being questioned drew the inevitable “you cannot be serious” response. 5 stitches a mere flesh wound to the lion-hearted Wexfordman.
Frantic phone calls and consultation of Dublin championship bye-laws took place to consider contingencies. They just about had their desired effect as at precisely 11:27, with three minutes to spare, fifteen bodies were rustled up to take on the RD challenge. The Stars men did not take too kindly to the delayed start. Pent up energy from an extended pre-match stay in the dressing room, and an equally extended warm-up which ensured limber bodies and sharp minds meant the Stars were in the mood to quickly vanquish the motley crew assembled to take them on.
Playing into the strong and freshening breeze, Réalt Dearg started in whirlwind fashion. The late-arriving Northsiders were not allowed settle into their surroundings with any degree of comfort. The return of the fleet-footed Conor Maharaj to the starting lineup added much needed thrust and guile to the stars attack. On the opposite wing, Podge Buckley’s direct running caused endless problems for the O’Tooles’ rearguard. Buckley would end the day with three points to his credit, all of which could have been three-pointers with a little luck and a slight recalibration of trajectory, the efforts combining for a net total of approximately seven inches over the crossbar. Indeed, Buckley’s route one running directly resulted in the big score of the first half with a well timed lay-off creating a gilt-edged chance for Jamie O’Hara which was..ahem..”clinically” executed.
The Stars 1-7 to 0-3 lead at half-time was largely the result of exceptional workrate all through the team, with the half back line proving to be virtually impervious to any pressure from the O’Tooles men. A particular highlight was David O’Connell’s flagrant pilfering of the sliothar off an opponent while mid solo, just one example of a typically combative display from DOC. Paudie O’Regan at midfield getting his first competitive outing in Drimnagh Castle put in a equally robust showing linking defence and attack, while also getting on the scoresheet in an all-action display.
Any hopes the O’Tooles men had of a comeback were swiftly snuffed out within seconds of the restart. Tom Kehoe, laser-like in his free-taking all day, most certainly picked his spot from all of 50 yards out to raise RD’s second green flag of the day. A barrage of points from Maharaj, Jamie O’Hara and Robbie Madden quickly followed such that the white flag of surrender was beginning to be raised by the opposition. Indeed such was the ferocity of the Stars attack, the back four were merely spectators for much of the second half. Colm Gahan, making his debut in goal was not required to touch the ball from play throughout the game, maybe just as well for the O'Toole's men.
So a first Junior B victory in the bag for the Stars men, maintaining an undefeated start to the season in competitive action. That said, sterner tests await. No added incentive is required for the next day out as we head to Shanganagh Park to take on last year’s county final opponent’s Cuala.
Réalt Dearg A: Colm Gahan, Mike Richardson, Cathal Hester, Brian Gavin, David O’Connell, Niall Mullane, Tomas O’Mahoney, Brendan Walsh, Paudie O’Regan, Conor Maharaj, Ciarán Gough, Podge Buckley, Jamie O’Hara, Tom Kehoe, Robbie Madden
Junior F Championship at Silverpark 22 April 2018
Kilmacud Crokes 4-12 v Realt Dearg 2-7
1986 was a wonderful year for hurling lovers. Tipperary crashed out of the championship at the first hurdle, Cyril Farrell bamboozled Kilkenny with his 2 man full forward line and laid the foundation for Galway's 2-in-a-row, and Jimmy Barry Murphy put a fitting cap on his career with a 6th All-Ireland medal. 86's greatest contribution to our ancient game, however, may have remained hidden for some 32 years. For while Joe Cooney was romancing the ball to the Kilkenny net and Kevin Hennessy was leading Cork to the promised land, that hurling hotbed of San Diego was welcoming it's newest resident, a baby by the name of Eric Lee.
Having taken his time to find his true calling, the Californian was given his bow by manager Kevin McEvoy just 3 weeks after showing up in Drimnagh Castle, and wasted no time in making his mark on the scoreboard. No doubt directed by Kev to keep it Cali and Snoop around the small square, Eric's finish was as cool as Ice Cube when the Kilmacud keeper dropped it like it was hot after a hopefully early ball in.
Buoyed by Eric's Hollywood introduction (sorry Ronan), RD made use of the wind with Ruairi Henchy and the evergreen Caoimhin Concannon leading the charge down the middle of the attack. The Clareman found his range after an early wide to finish with 0-3 from play, while the Kilmacudians struggled throughout to cope with his driving runs from the 40. Caoimhin added a nice score from a tight angle, one of 5 players ensuring the California of Europe was well represented throughout the team, with a Galway man in every line as the county emerges from it's Liam MacCarthy induced beer coma.
Abbeyknockmoy man Finbarr Conroy coped excellently when thrown in at the deep end, a welcome addition to the club's no.3 depth chart in the face of a certain Kilkenny man's inevitable suspension. Fellow Westerner Cillian Thorton continues to grow into the captaincy, combining Gearoid McInerney's catches and rampaging runs with Gearoid McInerney's struggles in actually getting a strike away. Flanked by Gavin Deacon and James Brooks and aided by battling wing backs Kev McEvoy and Dave Lynch, Kilmacud were kept at bay aside from an excellent catch and turn by a nippy corner forward which gave the ever vocal Bernard no chance in goal.
The remainder of the half was back and forth, Henchy keeping the scoreboard ticking over from placed balls, and even your humble scribe managing to get on the scoresheet when intercepting a horrendous short puck-out. Alas it was to be this reporter's last meaningful contribution as a questionable challenge left Realt Dearg with a one armed midfielder shunted into the corner and this match report to be typed one handed. The trio of debutants was completed by the more mobile of the midfield partnership, Ballygunner man Declan O'Beirne mopping up endless ball and keeping the Kilmacud half back line honest by driving forward and finding his forwards with quality ball throughout.
Coach McEvoy returned to the juke box at half time, the San Diego Song continuing with Eric's move to the half forward line, as he proved they can catch more than waves in his part of the world with his impressive aerial skills. And McEvoy's men were given real hope when a brilliant catch and turn by Caoimhin opened up Kilmacud once more and he blasted to the net.
As the wind picked up however, Kilmacud managed to get on top again, despite the RD half back line bravely putting their hands up repeatedly to take short puck outs and ease the pressure as Bernard faced into the teeth of the gale. Their best efforts were undone, however, in the space of 3 second half minutes, as two momentary lapses were punished with goals to leave a real mountain to climb.
But this game was not another to be thrown onto the pile of second half collapses for this team, the scoreline very harsh in the end with Kilmacud's goal leading a charmed life in the dying minutes, excellent pressure from the full back line ultimately smothering efforts from Leon and Caoimhin in a frantic last 10.
All in all an encouraging performance for the Cs, who with a little luck would have been right in the game at the death. Although overshadowed by the club's first check-in at the Hotel California, Finbarr and Declan proved priceless additions in problem positions, while the additional games in Junior F this year leave more wiggle room than last year's 4 team group. Next up is Na Gaeil Oga on Thursday week, stayed tuned as I try Tupac even more California references into a match report.
Réalt Dearg: Bernard Herlihy, Gavin Deacon, Finbarr Conroy, James Brooks, Kev McEvoy, Cillian Thorton (c), Dave Lynch, Gary Walsh (0-1), Declan O'Beirne, Leon Flanagan, Ruairi Henchy (0-5, 2 frees), Brian Finn, Eric Lee (1-0), Caoimhin Concannon (1-1), Niall Heavey.
AHL9 v CUALA
AHL9: Dalkey, 11 March 2018
Cuala 6-25 v 2-7 Réalt Dearg C
The mystery of the disappearing C men continues to confound the Realt Dearg massive as an outstanding first half performance in Dalkey was followed, as it was 2 weeks ago, by a desperately frustrating second where we battled to the death but couldn't get a handle on fresher opponents.
Stripped of their leader as Cillian 'family man' Thornton had more pressing matters to attend to (More pressing than Cuala away??!! I hear you cry) The C men took to the field led by ruggedly handsome new captain and determined to make amends for a second half collapse against Clontarf.
And the stars were straight out of the blocks, Dave Sheehan blasting to the net entirely on purpose from a 30 yard free in the opening minutes. Resisting the urge to park the bus , the men in red and black went about adding to their lead only to find their opponents middle third a serious handful, not least your humble scribe looking particularly leaky on the wing in his struggles to deal with a rangy young wing forward. The All Ireland Champions (kinda) were soon back in the game, picking off four scores to no reply before the stars managed to get their hurling hats back on.
But recover they did and for the remainder of the half, no quarter was given or asked as the sides went score or score, one of the highlights coming courtesy of a stunning long range point from young Ciaran Flanagan which dropped just inside the left upright. Clearly the young tyro has been watching his brother Gary Hurney closely in training
It was Sheehan who led his team to the front again, stretching to get a flick onto a long delivery and finding the net for his second major, to go with a handsome haul of placed balls. Ruairi Henchy repaid his manager's decision to push him forward to the 40 with some classy scores, and the returning Brian Finn showed everyone just what we've been missing with an 'all pullin, all draggin' exhibition of midfield play. The half time scoreline flattered the hosts, as the on-fire Bernard Herlihy was finally beaten at the 5th attempt for a late goal to make it Cuala 1-12 Realt Dearg 2-6 at half time.
Hopes of pulling off a shock were high, but ominously the teams were made to wait for the second half throw in as the referee struggled to get his head around no fewer than 5 Cuala half time substitutions. The writing was on the wall early in the second half as the fresh legs in the middle told and even a shot stopper of Herlihy's talents could not contend with the quality of ball being launched into the square. The full back line of James Brookes, Gav O'Connell and newly relocated to the back division Dave Lynch could only battle for so long before they were eventually swallowed by the red and white tide like their colleagues further out.
Despite the scoreline Kev McEvoy will take some solace from a game where Cuala were made to fight for every ball until the very end, and with a few reinforcements the Cs will feel confident of turning over anyone Junior F has to offer in 4 weeks time. With Cuala and Clontarf fancied to be close to the top of the league and now out of the way there is plenty of reasons to be hopeful looking forward.
Finally congratulations to our latest debutant James Egan who played the full 60 at wing back and never stopped running, leaving his opposite number with just the right amount of scars, both physical and mental.
Réalt Dearg C: Bernard Herlihy, James Brooks, Gavin O Connell, Dave Lynch, Gary Walsh, Colin Swanton, James Egan, Ciaran Flanagan, Ger Kennedy, Richie Phelan, Ruairi Henchy, Leon Flanagan, Niall Heavy, Dave Sheehan, Brian Finn.
AHL8: Drimnagh Castle, 11 March 2018
Réalt Dearg B 3-5 v 1-9 St. Peregrine’s
Savage workrate was the order of the day at the Field of Drims where the Killer Bs finally got Réalt Dearg’s first competitive victory of the 2018 hurling season. In the aftermath of last week’s unseasonal snowfall, and with a host of fixtures across the county falling prey to postponement and cancellation, the sod in Drimnagh Castle was well-tested on this Sunday afternoon. While conditions underfoot were certainly challenging, it did not dampen the Stars men’s desire to kick-start their season with a much-needed victory.
The ball was fiercely competed for in the opening exchanges by both sides, the Penguins also looking to put a first entry into the W column on the league table. While the scoring in those exchanges may have been low, the entertainment level was continually high as only absorbingly combative hurling games can be. Junior hurling it may be, but the desire and passion on display (evidenced by some notable examples of single and even double fist-pumping on occasion) was of inter-county standard.
With scores difficult to come by, some class and guile was needed to break the deadlock. In the fashion of the truly cock Dub that he is, this was duly provided by Kevin Deady first-timing a centre to the net following some beautiful approach work on the left wing. The corner-back’s attempt to exact retribution shortly afterwards with a crunching shoulder to the chest was only met with some devilish taunting from Danger for the rest of the game. Some more luxurious hurling minutes later yielded a second major. Ed Kavanagh expertly picking out Colm Walsh, unquestionably man-of-the-match on the day, with a carefully measured short puck-out. Walsh in turn found the looping run of Rory O’Loughlin who collected without breaking stride, turned the full-back inside-out before unleashing an unstoppable effort into the far corner. Three strikes and you’re picking it out.
The second half continued in the same tete-a-tete fashion with the 5 point cushion held at the changeover giving the Stars men some breathing space. Never quite managing to shake off the Peregrine’s challenge, the sight of Martin Murphy entering the fray, after his new Sat Nav had finally picked up the coordinates for the Stepaside training pitch on Wednesday evening, was a welcome sight. Murphy’s contribution of 1-1 over the final 10 minutes helped the Stars men over the line in the end, but not after some nervy moments which yielded a goal and a point for the Penguins themselves from frees dropped in as time petered out.
While this game was won by being ahead on the scoreboard in the end, in another way, it was won by the never-say-die attitude and willingness to take punishment displayed all over the pitch by the Réalt Dearg men. The hurling mantra that defence starts in the full forward line was never better evidenced than this display of force by the Stars vanguard. Tormentor in chief was Shane Murphy who continually harassed and harried for even the slightest sniff of possession, giving his direct opponent a torrid time all through. While Murphy didn’t get the goal his tenacity deserved, he certainly set the standard of work-rate which prevailed throughout the team. At the back, Kieran “Mushie” O’Brien swatted away any potential danger like flies on a sunny afternoon. Captain DOC led by example driving ball-after-ball away from the dangerzone and the aforementioned Colm Walsh took to the unfamiliar wing-back position like the proverbial duck-to-water.
The defensive display was tinged with some sadness however as it was possibly the last occasion we will get to see the swashbuckling Brad Harte embarrassing “nippy” and not so nippy corner forwards. His imminent return to the People’s Republic will result in the loss of one of the clubs most seasoned campaigners, a man who has contributed handsomely to the development of the club on and off the field over many years. His meting out of special punishment to Fancy Dan-types sporting Underarmour-style tights will be most-favourably remembered.
Réalt Dearg B: Ed Kavanagh, Brad Harte, Kieran O’Brien, David O’Connell, Colm Walsh, Ciarán Gough, Ronan Moloney, Tomás O’Mahoney, Brian Gavin, Shane Casey, Niall Mullane, Tom Kehoe, Shane Murphy, Rory O’ Loughlin, Kevin Deady
Ciarán Brennan, Gavan Manifold, Martin Murphy, Brendan Walsh, Colm Gahan
AHL 5 at Drimnagh Castle: Réalt Dearg A 0-12 Good Counsel 2-6
AHL 8 at Kiltipper Road: Réalt Dearg B 1-8 Tomas Davis 1-16
AHL 9 at Drimnagh Castle: Réalt Dearg C 0-5 Clontarf 4-12
The 2018 AHL season threw in on what will be generously described as a “crisp” February morning. Clear blue skies overhead but a biting chill prevailed in what could well be one of the earliest starts to a Dublin hurling season in recent memory. Reports of emperor penguins having taken up residence in the moat at Drimnagh Castle were unsubstantiated but would not have been noticed such was the enthusiasm for the opening AHL engagement. The imminent arrival of the Beast from the East did deter the gathering masses who were enthused by the high noon start to proceedings at Drimnagh Castle. Parking at an absolute premium for the so called “Drimnagh Derby”.
The first half was a very tight affair, the epitome of early season hurling. If it moves pull on it, if it doesn’t, make it move and then pull on it the mantra from both sides. Jim Turner’s concern for the pitch required halting proceedings temporarily to request some extra turf from the sideline. No worries, RD’s finest bogmen were on hand to turn hurleys to sléans and repair the wounded surface. Underfoot conditions finally up to scratch, the Stars men finally began to find their feet. The hurling may not have been the prettiest but resolute defending and some Matt Lynch class got the scoreboard ticking over. 4 points to 1 the half time score.
In the second half, the RD engine began to purr nicely. Robbie Madden and David O’Connell contributing nice scores with the Men in Black getting to grips with the opponents in most sectors of the pitch. Ciarán Gough putting in a masterful display on his debut at centre back.But then, two hammer blow somewhat against the run of play. Counsel Gaels getting in for what will be grudgingly referred to as two shcuttery goals. Scored from a combined total of about eight inches, one a bit of a push over try. A bit of soul searching for the full back line.
It was then the character of the RD men in this new season was put to the test. And respond well they did, warming hearts despite the frosty air. A two point deficit turned into a one point lead in a few short minutes. In the end, honours were shared in the Drimnagh Derby. A point on the table after the first game of the season is a better position than recent seasons where league honours were still being contested at seasons-end - a building block for better things to come as the year progresses.
Réalt Dearg A: Gary Hurney, Mossy O’Mahoney, Cathal Hester, Brian Gavin, Eoin O’Dwyer, Ciarán Gough, Ronán Moloney, Brendan Walsh, Conor Maharaj, Podge Buckley, Matt Lynch, David O’Connell, Robbie Madden, Tom Kehoe, John O’Callaghan
Niall Mullane, Ultan Dillon, Mike Richardson
The B’s travelled to Kiltipper Road to take on a Thomas Davis side who had been plying their trade at a higher level last year. A recent challenge game had shown the considerable challenge awaiting the Stars men, but undaunted a sizeable squad of B men took to the astro turf of Kiltipper Road, a regular haunt of old for the more seasoned RD campaigners.
Plenty of punishment, both physical and verbal was dished out by both sides in the opening exchanges. The immediacy of the recent challenge game allowing rivalries to be renewed with vigour. Scores exchanged with rapidity also in the early exchanges, the hard underfoot conditions allowing for some quick ball to be delivered to willing forwards. Nice stick work from Niall Mullane and laser sharp accuracy from Colin Devereux part of the highlight reel for the Stars men. Hard working and tenacious performances on their RD debuts from Declan Phelan in defence and Stephen Flynn and Shane Casey in attack were noteworthy.
The quality of some of the Tallaght men on show blurred the lines somewhat between Senior B and AHL8, but the RD men did not flinch. Slightly rocked by the concession of a major, a challenge was set down to the Stars men. But Shane Murphy gets inspiration from seeing men in green and gold scoring in the Metropolitan area - so he decided to get in on the act himself and rattled the rigging.
Thomas Davis experience playing at a higher level probably told in the end, but the Stars men battled hard all the way through and were certainly getting on top the longer the game progressed. Brad Harte have the luxury of patrolling the entire RD defensive half with only Brendan Walsh for company on occasion. A frustrated Thomas Davis substitute getting his marching orders for foolishly trying to dislodge Mike Richardson’s head didn’t help their cause, but unfortunately time caught up with the Stars men in the end before they could claw back the deficit on the scoreboard.
Réalt Dearg B: Brendan Walsh, Declan Phelan, Kieran O’Brien, Billy Brazil, Mike Richardson, Mike O’Connor, Brad Harte, Colin Devereux, Colm Walsh, Ultan Dillon, Niall Mullane, Stephen Flynn, Shane Casey, Tom Kehoe, Shane Murphy
Podge Buckley, Conor O’Droma, Brian Gavin, Mossy O’Mahoney, Kevin Deady, Ronán Moloney, David O’Connell, John O’Callaghan
Realt Dearg's C team went down fighting in the second game at Drimnagh Castle as the fitness of Clontarf's youngsters and the type of squad depth rarely seen at this level overwhelmed Coach McEvoy's charges in the final 20 minutes.
The opening half was February hurling at its finest with both sides struggling to find their range, and while Dave Sheehan kept the scoreboard ticking over from placed balls the Stars would ultimately rue their lack of scores while playing with a breeze which, in the words of one Clontarf veteran, "is cuttin me arse in half".
Though the scoreline got away from us in the second half there were some positives to take from the game,with the highlight coming courtesy of Niall Kennedy, a late addition to the squad when the gentleman he was supposed to be operating on realized he was from Limerick and demanded a change of surgeon. Following some debate over the most suitable taker of a long range free, The Good Doctor took command and demanded the ball before coolly and calmly slotting a fine score to rouse his troops and haul RD back into the game.
The fact that the free was indirect, and the aforementioned debate surrounded how best to work the ball into the full forward line, seemed lost on the midfielder until the referee cut short his fist pumping to throw the ball in.
Kennedy and fellow midfielder Ruairi Henchy were the most effective players in red and black, while special mention must go to new skipper Cillian Thorton for an all action display which saw him at times choose to operate as an auxiliary halfback, despite his managers protestations. Congratulations too to Richie Phelan and Ciaran Crowley on battling debuts in a forward line who were starved of possession in the second half. No Fault and no doubt they'll have better days!
Réalt Dearg C: Bernard Herlihy, James Brooks, Gavin O'Connell, Gavin Deacon, Gary Walsh, Colin Swanton, Ger Kennedy, Ruairi Henchy, Niall Kennedy, Leon Flanagan, Cillian Thornton, Ciaran Crowley, Dave Sheehan, Richie Phelan, Dave Lynch
Kevin McEvoy, Niall Heavey
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.