Saturday morning, and the U-11s were up bright and early, and congregating at the club house. The bus hit the road on time at 9.00 with close to 40 children and a generous sprinkling of eager mentors on board.

As we turned into Dicksboro’s pitch the local girls were already warming up in the pleasant sunshine, as our girls (and some mentors!) liberally applied the Factor 50.

The sight of the Dicksboro maroon reminded everyone of the recent welcome revival in Westmeath’s hurling fortunes, but all were careful not to raise the matter of U-21s, or missed last-minute penalties, with either Mick or Cathal.

We fielded 3 teams and the opposition was provided by 2 Dicksboro teams and 1 team from across the city in O’Loughlin’s. Each of our teams played each opposing team in 3 20-minute matches. Bearing in mind that the Kilkenny girls were a year older, and that Kilkenny teams will never be found wanting in terms of determination or skill, our girls performed magnificently, and steadily improved as the games progressed. While victory eluded us on the day, the experience gained, and the spirit shown will certainly stand them all in good stead in the games ahead.

After the game Ken and Millie O Reilly were shown an exhibition in the Dicksboro clubhouse of an all Ireland Medal won by Millie’s Great Grand uncle Peter O Reilly and some of his hurling memorabilia from the 1930’s. Peter won three all Ireland medals for Kilkenny.

Once the games finished the girls headed for the water bottles to quench thirsts – and to then engage in the obligatory water fight, where the general motto of the girls appeared to be “the wetter the better”.

Then lunch in the clubhouse, where the customary Dicksboro hospitality was again in evidence. They could not have been more welcoming and accommodating.

Back on the bus, and off to a spot of swinging, sliding and climbing in the Kilkenny Castle Park playground. Cathal then led the way up the Park to the Castle – a veritable “Pied Piper” with a line of Boden kids in his wake.

Then we had a guided tour of Kilkenny Castle, which proved interesting, educational and entertaining. The girls were not slow to raise questions with the various guides, who will have been put to the pins of their collars to answer some of the more “left field” questions and observations.

Then back out to the Park where Cathal proudly revealed the mysterious contents of the bag he had been carefully guarding all afternoon. Opening the zip, he reached in and pulled out the Liam McCarthy Cup, gleaming in the sunshine – and the cup was shiny as well!

Cameras and i-phones flickered – group pictures, individual pictures, Daddy & daughter pictures, Mammy & daughter pictures, “Sam Maguire holding Liam McCarthy” picture, randomer pictures. And then John Kirwan spotted his chance and headed straight for a bridal party who had just arrived in the Park. The groom was blown off his feet, but the bride seemed less impressed, making it extremely doubtful if Liam McCarthy will feature in the final Wedding Album cut. To add to John’s disappointment, the “afters” invitation that he had clearly been angling for also failed to materialise.

Back on the bus for the journey home, and Samantha produced plenty of goodies to replenish the girls’ sugar levels. Soon the singing stared, and we were treated to a version of “Boden U-11s Got Talent”.

Next on the agenda was the quiz. 4 rounds of monstrously difficult questions (at least for the adults).  Teams of 4 were established, and Laura used all here teaching experience to ensure that the highest standards of secrecy between teams were maintained at all times. This became hugely important as Cathal broke the welcome news that prize for the winners was likely to be an “all expenses paid” trip to Euro Disney – with pocket money thrown in. However as we write, the travel chaos in France may be putting these plans in severe jeopardy. Plan B is likely to be choc ices.  Winners to be announced at training on Monday.

Back to the club house on time at 6.00 to be met with a posse of happy parents. No doubt everyone slept well on Saturday night. Roll on the next trip.