Under-12 Newry Mitchels Tournament

posted 8 Jun 2013, 07:38 by Unknown user   [ updated 8 Jun 2013, 09:15 ]
Garrycastle under-12s put in a really excellent performance at the prestigious Newry Mitchels Tournament (11-a-side) held on Saturday the 1st June.

An 18 man squad were one of 42 clubs competing in the country’s largest under 12 tournament, now in its 27 th year, which featured teams from Donegal, Armagh, Down, Tyrone, Monaghan, Antrim, Cavan, Derry, Louth, Meath, Dublin, Kildare, Westmeath and Laois. The quality of the competition on show was reflected in the eventual winners of the Cup and Shield, who were Lavey of Derry and Mayobridge of Down, managed respectively by former All-Stars Henry Downey and Benny Coulter.

The day started at 10.00 with a parade of all the teams in their Club colours and Garrycastle were then put straight into action in the first match of their five team group where they were drawn with Moy, the home of the Cavanagh brothers of Tyrone, Bailieboro of Cavan, local club Annaclone (Down) and finally, St. Peregrines of Dublin.

A full slideshow with 168 pictures of the parade and from the games is available on the U12 web page.

The early start and the long bus journey took a bit of a toll on the players in the first half against Moy and they faced a four point deficit at half time. The second half saw Garrycastle come right back into the game but a succession of missed chances and the concession of a crucial goal saw Moy run out winners 1-5 to 0-3. Moy subsequently won the rest of the games in the group to qualify for the Cup quarter-finals leaving a fierce battle between the other four teams for second spot and qualification for the Shield knockout stages.

Next up were Bailieboro of Cavan. All of the players who had missed out in the first game were brought in for their first taste of action. It became clear early on that Garrycastle were the better team but just when it looked like a familiar failure to take chances was going to cost them a crucial goal swung the fixture their way with the final score reading 1-4 to 0-6. This result put Garrycastle right back into the reckoning and the players were now beginning to realise that they were going to prove tough opponents for any team. A win in their next match over Annaclone who had beaten St. Peregrines with a last second goal and who had put up a great performance against Moy would send them a long way towards qualification. This game saw the best performance that this group of players had produced so far this year. Garrycastle controlled the game from start to finish against very good opponents but somehow a combination of posts, crossbars, great saves, goalmouth blocks and amazing misses saw them go into the last minute of the game just a point ahead. Another missed chance by Garrycastle to finally put the game away gave the referee an opportunity to allow Annaclone one last chance to equalise and this they duly did from a long range free with the last kick of the game.

Points difference was now coming into the equation with both Annaclone and Garrycastle level on points with just a game to go. A four point win by the Down lads over Bailieboro meant that Garrycastle knew that they had to beat St. Peregrines of Dublin by a minimum of eight points to make the quarter finals. A rampant Garrycastle took the game to their physically bigger opponents from the very first seconds and it was clear they were not going to be denied the chance to stay in the tournament. A final scoreline of 3-5 to 0-1 was almost an unfair reflection of a superb Garrycastle performance and which hopefully gave an insight in the future potential and development of this squad.

Getting into the knockout stages had always been the goal for the players but they faced into their quarter-final against Moortown-St. Malachys of Tyrone with plenty of confidence. There was a long break before the quarter-final which might have taken away a little of their momentum but Garrycastle will be the first to acknowledge that they came up against a side that played at a level well above anything they have encountered to date. The speed, skill, combination play and ability to take scores from every angle of the Tyrone lads was a joy to watch and they played with an intensity that was simply too hard to handle at the end of a long day. To their credit the Garrycastle lads never gave up but this was just a bridge too far at this stage of their development and Moortown ran out comfortable winners. It was no surprise after to hear that Moortown made the Shield final where they lost out by only a point to Mayobridge with 3 players from that final being nominated for player of the tournament.

Overall, this would have been a great experience for the Garrycastle lads even if they had just made up the numbers. However, the fact that they performed with such distinction, improved with every game, and showed their potential was a real bonus. The standard of the performance was also reflected in the invitations received from other clubs to future tournaments and matches. The players can also be proud of the way they handled themselves on and off the field. Many of the teams on view fielded teams consisting exclusively of under 12 players whereas Garrycastle were more or less split evenly between under 12s and under 11s. The only pity was that a number of other players mainly through injury and illness were unable to make the trip. Of the players who did travel, Captain for the day Andrew Monaghan and Owen Keogh probably deserve special mention as they played as well as any player from any other county all through. Michael Dooley and Cian Dowling shared the goalkeeping duties and both put in very solid performances. They received great protection from Jack Norton and Scott Duffy who were rock solid in the full back line. Cathal Redmond and Daniel Guinan also impressed in the backs, as did Robert O’Brien who stood out during his spell in defence in the quarter-final. Midfield was Garrycastle’s strongest area with Dylan Keegan providing great support to Andrew and Owen with his hard running. All of the forwards competed strongly but scores were hard to come by close in due to the small goals and sometimes packed defences. However, Fearghal Mullin picked off some lovely points, and Dara Kenna, (who scored one of the goals of the tournament), and Tommy Stephens combined very well in the half forwards. Luke Clinton won a crucial penalty in the all important match against St. Peregrines where James Murphy got the ball rolling with a shot that rocketed off the post in the opening seconds and led to the opening score. Elsewhere, Jason Mannion put himself about to very good effect as did Joseph Henson, and Ruairi Lyons was another who was very unlucky not get his name on the scoresheet on at least a couple of occasions.

Report by: Brian Murphy