Paddy Mullen Tournament – James Stephens GAA Club Kilkenny

Ballyboden’s minor hurlers departed the club at 7:45 a.m. on Saturday morning for the annual journey to James Stephens GAA Club, Kilkenny to participate in the Paddy Mullen Tournament. Eight of the best hurling teams from Cork, Tipperary, Antrim, Waterford, Kilkenny and Dublin competed to win the Paddy Mullen Cup. Since the tournament commenced in 1991 Ballyboden won the Cup in 2003 and were Shield winners in 1994, 2001, 2008 and 2011.

First up was Ballyhale Shamrocks. Sean Brennan stepped up the take responsibility for goal keeping duties in the absence of Andy Lyons. Boden knew a strong start was essential and they executed that with style with early points from Ciaran O’Brien, Michael Boland and a free from Garrett Crowley. Darragh Maguire and Cian Mellett netted two goals in the opening half. Boden defence was rock solid and limited Ballyhale to getting their scores in the first half from frees and a 65. Boden led at the break 2-3 to 1-3. Boden continued to dominate every position in the second half. Garrett Crowley gave an exhibition on free taking, knocking over 4 points and a fifth from a 65. The early ball into the forwards paid dividend with goals from Michael Boland, a second from Darragh Maguire and points from Cian Mellett. The defence worked tirelessly and restricted Ballyhale to scoring 2 points from play in the second half. Full time score 4-12 to 1-5.

Next up was Glen Rovers of Cork who had beaten Mount Sion in their opening game. This was a physical and bruising encounter where Boden stood up to the task at hand.

Boden exploded out of the blocks with an opening minute goal from Michael Boland, followed up with a point from Cian Kelly. Garret Crowley continued to excel at free taking knocking over another 4 points and a fifth from a 65. The defence lines led by Ruadhan Fanning at full back and Fergal Murray at centre back were excellent and contained Glen Rovers to scoring three points in the first 20 minutes, one from play and two from frees. Boden were awarded a penalty and Garrett Crowley’s shot was saved on the line. Darragh Maguire caused problems for the Glen Rover full back line and sored a goal, kicking the sliotar passed the keeper. Boden led at the break 2-7 to 0-3. The second half continued with high intensity and hard hitting. Glen Rovers worked hard and began picking off points from play and frees. Boden had no intention of relenting their lead and responded with points from Michael Boland, Darragh Maguire and Garrett Crowley. Conor Dean brought the game to a conclusion with a superb goal, final score 3-12 to 2-8.

Boden were set against Blackrock in the final, Blackrock won this tournament four out of the last five years. They had three county minors playing with them and were first out of the blocks knocking over a point followed up with a well-executed goal. Boden stayed in touch with points from Garrett Crowley and Conor Dean and went in at the break one point down, 1-5 to 0-7. The second half continued at blistering pace and the tired and weary bodies of the Boden lads was beginning to show. Blackrock gave and exhibition on high fielding and their defence was outstanding, closing down every Boden attack. Blackrock continued to tag on points and began to stretch a lead. Cian Kelly, Garrett Crowley and Cian Murray knocked over points keeping Boden in touch. Boden got a lifeline when they were awarded a penalty, unfortunately Michael Boland’s shot was stopped by the keeper. Blackrock closed out the game with a second goal and were deserved winners with a scoreline of 2-12 to 0-10.

Congratulations to Blackrock of their fine win.

The Boden squad had nothing left to give after 120 minutes of intense high standard hurling. Each and every one of them can be immensely proud of their outstanding performance and for the manner they represented Ballyboden St Endas.

I have no doubt the top level of hurling played during this tournament will stand to the players in their championship preparation. Ten of the squad are eligible to participate in this tournament next year.

Thanks to the Mullen family and James Stephens club for their hospitality and a top-class tournament. Thanks also to the parents and friends that travelled, your support was much appreciated.

Team: Sean Brennan, Robert Leddy, Ronan Dooley, Ruadhan Fanning, Jack Mahon, Michael O’Flaherty, Kevin Cronin, Owen Wigglesworth, Fergal Murray, Cian Murray, Neil Hester, Cian Mellett, Conor Deane, Garrett Crowley, Ciaran O’Brien, Michael Boland, Darragh Maguire, Cian Kelly, Rory Knight and Sean McDonald.