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U6 Hurling Blitz

12/10/2013Posted by Ciaran Grant

U6 Hurling Blitz, hosted by Davitt's

Venue: Falls Park

Date: 12th October 2013

Brid Og were invited to an U6 hurling blitz at Falls Park, hosted by Davitts. Jack, Sean, Liam, Fionntan, Jake and Luke from Eire Og were joined by Oisin, Conor, Luighseach and Donncha from St Brigids. Games against Sarsfields, St Agnes, Davitts and Gort Na Mona were scheduled. Unfortunately, Gort Na Mona were unable to field so the Ogs had three games to play on a cold and blustery morning at Falls Park.
The first match ended with defeat against Davitts. This was the first time this group of kids had played together so the result was somewhat understandable, though disappointing. Most players had experience of playing for Eire Og or St Brigids but Liam was the only player who had represented Brid Og before. Fionntan and Jake were making their hurling debut.
After a break, while other games were being played, and a bit more practice, Brid Og had got warmed up by the time the played St Agnes. This was a totally different performance and Brid Ogs ran out comfortable winners. Conor grabbed a hat-trick and Sean helped himself to a couple of goals. The best was saved to last when Liam in goals saved an Aggies shot and then cleared his lines well. Sean pulled on the clearance, moving the ball swiftly from defence to attack where Oisin had a good touch to get the ball under control and then fired a shot past the keeper. The Ogs had gone from their own keeper to scoring a goal in four touches – it was a goal fit to grace any game.
The matches had been 6-a-side so the players had to be rotated in order to give everyone as much game time as possible. However, Sarsfields had a big squad so it was agreed to play the last game with teams of 10, so all the Brid Og players were able to get a full game. With twenty children on the pitch, space was limited. Though the game was fairly even, Brid Og had slightly more possession than their opponents. They got reward right at the very end when Oisin managed to force the ball over the line for a 1-0 victory.
It was great to see some players getting their competitive debut and to see so many players coming out this morning to represent Brid Og. They played their matches very sportingly and were great ambassadors for Brid Og, so we hope we will see them all play plenty more matches in the future.
Thanks to Michael, Christy and everyone else at Davitt’s for inviting us to todays blitz. Also, thanks to Gavin for his assistance today and for refereeing the games. Finally, as usual, we are very appreciative of the encouragement the parents provide from the sidelines, and especially to Una for providing lollies at the end of three tough games.
Onwards and upwards!
Brid Og: Jack, Sean, Liam, Fionntan, Jake, Luke, Oisin, Conor, Luighseach, Donncha 

McGowan Cup

05/10/2013Posted by Ciaran Grant

McGowan Cup

Date: 5th October 2013
Venue: Woodlands
Eire Og’s annual U8 hurling tournament, the McGowan Cup, was played at Woodlands on Saturday 5th October. The original plan was to have two Brid Og teams competing, but on the day so many players attended there were enough for three teams. Therefore, a Brid Og team was picked and these were backed up by a team made up of the remaining Eire Og players and one consisting of the remaining St Brigid’s players. Also, playing were the holders St Enda’s, Sarsfields and Loch Mhor, which is an amalgamation of Glenavy and Aldergrove. The teams were split into two groups of three with the top two qualifying for the cup semi-finals.
In group A, Eire Og got the competition started with a bang as a powerful performance from Liam in midfield drove them to a 3-1 victory over Loch Mhor. Brid Og followed this with a comfortable victory over Loch Mhor. Brid Og then went face-to-face with their Eire Og team-mates. Both teams had already qualified for the semi-final and Brid Og won this game to top the group.
Sarsfields, as group winners, and St Brigid’s qualified from Group B. St Brigid’s defeated St Enda’s in the deciding final group game. As a result Brid Og would again be lining up against familiar faces in the semi-final as they would face St Brigids. In the other semi Eire Og would play Sarsfields.
St Brigid’s battled gamely against Brid Og in the semi-final. Only in the second half did Brid Og pull away from their opponents. In the other semi the young Eire Og team also competed well but Sarsfields were just a little too strong for them and it was they who qualified for the final.
There was also the shield final to compete for. This should have been between St Enda’s and Loch Mhor, as they were the third placed teams in the group stages. However, Loch Mhor had left, so another Brid Og team was formed from the beaten cup semi-finalists and they played St Enda’s. At the end the kids from Glengormley came out as winners.
The cup final turned out to be an exciting match with no quarter given by either side. Brid Og started strongly and goals from Niall and Pearse put them in a commanding position. However, it was only through some desperate, tenacious, last-ditch tackling from the Ogs backs that Sarsfields failed to score in the first half. Talk of lifting the cup was banned at half-time and the kids were reminded that the cup wasn’t won yet. There was still a job to do. After the whistle blew for the second half, Niall tagged on a point to extend Brid Og’s lead. However, Sarsfields refused to lie down and got just reward when one of their forwards nipped in to flick the ball past Conlan in goals and get themselves back in the game. In the remaining minutes, there was some more last-ditch defending at both ends, but neither team registered another score. So, when the final whistle blew Brid Og were the winners by 2-1 to 1-0. The cheers went up from the spectators on the sideline and from the players on the field and the kids began celebrating a well-deserved victory.
Darren and David conducted the presentation. First, St Enda’s received their medals and the shield. Next, Sarfields were given runners-up medals. Finally, joint captains Pearse and Niall went forward with the rest of the Brid Og team to collect their winners medal and receive the McGowan cup for 2013.
Though the cup was lifted today, it wasn’t won today. It was won at the South Antrim Go Games, when the kids realised they could beat anyone in Belfast; it was won in the Eddie Irvine Centre and the Glens of Antrim, when they saw they could compete with and beat the biggest names in Ulster hurling. And mostly, it was won on dark, wet training nights at Woodlands and Musgrave. The hard work and the long miles of the past few months paid off today, and the U8s got the victory their efforts of the year more than deserved. It has to be added that throughout all the matches in 2013, the U8s have played in the most sporting manner and they are wonderful ambassadors for the club.
Onwards and Upwards.
Thanks to Gavin with his assistance with the Brid Og team and to Tara for mentoring the Eire Og players. Also, thanks to Darren and David for refereeing the games today. Thanks to the families and friends on the sidelines, who encouraged the players throughout their matches.
Brid Og: Conlan, David, Jack, Niall, Pearse, Rauri, Sophia, Techin, Zack
Eire Og: Alannah, Darragh, Liam, Matthew, Megan, Padraig, Sean

St Peters Warrenpoint Blitz

21/09/2013Posted by Ciaran Grant

St Peter's GAC blitz
Location: Warrenpoint
Date: 21/09/2013
Eire Og U8s travelled to Warrenpoint for the annual St Peter’s GAC blitz. There were many teams from Co Down and Co Armagh. The Ogs were the sole representative from Antrim. The teams were split into 2 sections with games against the other teams in the same section scheduled to be played. On the day Eire Og proved to be worthy ambassadors for their county, as they came away victories in all their 6 matches.
The players were a little disappointed when it was realised that the games were to be ground hurling only. Maybe the many full rules matches that they have played in North and South-West Antrim blitzes recently has spoiled them a little.
The first match was against Carryduff. Eire Og dominated the game and had countless chances to score, but the wide count grew and grew. The mentors on the sideline were nearly tearing their hair out in frustration (those that have hair to pull out!) when Niall eventually scored a goal. That was the only score, but Eire Og should have had many more.
Next up was a game against the hosts, St Peter’s Warrenpoint. This game began in a similar fashion to the first match with Eire Og creating and squandering numerous opportunities. St Peter’s broke downfield and when the ball wasn’t cleared a forward lashed the ball past Conlan in nets. The frustration, somehow, was even more intense than in the first game. Eire Og kept up the pressure and David scored a good goal to level the match. The Ogs pressed for a winner and near the end managed to turn things around when a long-range shot from Pearse was saved by the goalkeeper, but behind the goal-line.
After two narrow wins, Bredagh were the next opponents. This match was reduced from 9 to 7-a-side due to the number of Bredagh players. This meant there was a bit more space on the pitch and the Ogs skills at last began to show. They ran out 4-0 winners and the Bredagh keeper made many good saves. Niall hit three goals and Pearse added the other.
Eire Og faced Ballyvarley next and this match was 9 a-side again. Yet again, Eire Og dominated from start to finish but their shots kept going wide, or were saved by the goalkeeper, who was having a very good match. Pearse scored a goal, with a good strike through a crowd of players for the only goal of the game.
After this Eire Og were due to play Portaferry II and Keady II, but both teams only arrived with 1 team each. So, the fixtures were readjusted and a second game against Ballyvarley was arranged. This time the Ogs superiority showed through and they had a more comfortable victory. When the game was scoreless, Liam in nets made a good save from a long range shot that had evaded the entire Eire Ogs defence. This was one of the few times the Ogs goalkeeper was called into serious action. After that though Eire Og took control and again Niall scored 3 goals and Pearse added another for a 4-0 victory. Sophia scored direct from a puck-out, but unfortunately it was disallowed – maybe she was getting in some practice for next weekend’s poc fada.
The sixth and final game was against Bredagh again. This was the most competitive game of the day. Bredagh took the lead with a superb goal direct from a sideline. Eire Og came back strongly and their efforts were rewarded as two goals by Pearse, plus one by Niall sandwiched in between these, gave them another victory.
So overall, it was a great day out for Eire Og in Co Down. Another successful road trip for our young hurlers. The 6 victories mirrored the performance of the U10 team in Warrenpoint last year. They were easily the best team in their section. Indeed there were many comments from mentors of the other teams and the young referees about how good they are.
Onwards and upwards.
Thanks to Damien, Kieran and everyone else from St Peter’s for inviting us once again to their blitz. St Peter’s provided tea, coffee, sandwiches and juice for everyone, which was most welcome. Thanks as usual for the players and parents for travelling to Warrenpoint and to fellow mentors, Darren, Gavin and Tara for their assistance.
Eire Og: Alannah, Conlan, David, Jack, Liam, Niall, Pearse, Sophia, Zack

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