ST OLIVER Plunkett’s/Eoghan Ruadh’s Under-14 hurlers will break new ground this weekend as they travel to the north coast of Ireland to play in the national Feile.
It follows their victory in division two of the Dublin Feile a couple of months back, seeing off near neighbours Castleknock in the final, winning at the highest level in the club’s history to be rewarded with this away trip.
With Ulster hosting the annual All-Ireland competition, the make-up of the competition has been altered this year with the winners of division one in the top nine counties bound for Thurles for a one-day blitz in Semple Stadium.
It means that the division two champions from those counties will line out against county representatives from the rest of the island taking part, making for a better match in terms of standard with the hosting Ulster teams.
Plunkett’s will take on hosts Ballycastle on Friday evening before going on to face Loughgiel from Antrim and Bennettsbridge from Kilkenny. From there, the side will go into quarter-finals on Saturday afternoon as the competition splits into cup and shield categories either in Armagh or Derry.
Speaking to GazetteSport about the upcoming honour of representing the county, Fintan Hayes – one of four mentors involved with the team – says it is going to be something of a journey into the unknown for his young charges.
It will be a new experience for the majority of the players with the Dublin season “being busy enough” in itself for Plunkett’s in recent years with their last away trip being to Mullingar whilst at Under-10 level.
“We have won Feiles before but never of this level; division two is the highest. We’re absolutely thrilled for them,” Hayes said.
“We’re going up to enjoy ourselves. We’re not putting the lads under any pressure about how they do overall.
“The lads will want for nothing this weekend; having seen the itinerary sent on to us from Ballycastle, we are being more than well looked after. As it was for the Dublin Feile, it will just be down to a full-panel effort.
“We actually have a guy coming up just for the Friday game before heading off on holiday on Friday. I think that shows how special it is for the lads and their dedication. They all thoroughly enjoyed the Dublin Feile and, hopefully, they will enjoy this one just as much.”
Five players will be missing from the side that played in the Dublin Feile between pre-booked holidays and injury and so they have brought in two newcomers, one from the Under-13s and the other from the Under-12s, bringing their playing panel to 21 for the weekend.