Mayo won their first ever All-Ireland U16B Hurling title on Saturday 25th August as they travelled to Fr Tierney Park in Ballyshannon in County Donegal for the National finals day. Up for grabs was the All-Ireland U16B Peter O’Keefe Memorial Cup – hosted in his home club of Aodh Ruadh in Ballyshannon.
A large crowd of players, mentors, parents and supporters travelled up from Mayo to the event in the hope that Mayo could upset the odds and claim this title for the first time.
Close Encounter With Roscommon
Played on the main pitch in Ballyshannon, this local derby was a cagy affair in the early stages with nerves on both sides evident throughout the opening exchanges. Two early Mayo points both from Cathal Cosgrove settled the Green and Red charges before a Conal Hession goal – after a nice reverse hand pass from Oisin Farrell – gave Mayo a slight cushion of 1-5 to 0-5 at the interval.
The second half saw Roscommon rally back into contention. But Mayo captain and freetaker – Paddy Dozio – was in scintillating form from the dead balls – as he converted three long range frees to keep Mayo in front. Mayo finished the game strongly, and a goal late on from Tomas Fahy gave Mayo a four point win at the finish of the 30 minute game.
Others to impress for Mayo in this encounter were full-back Danny Hill – whose clearances and puck-outs were setting up most of Mayo’s scoring chances, while Finn McKeown gave a good account of himself throughout.
Mayo: Conor Galvin; Declan Henry, Danny Hill, Ciaran Treacy; Tom Rushe, Padraig Murphy, Jack Deegan; Paddy Dozio (0-3,3f), Cian Mulchrone; Finn McKeown (0-1), Ross Beirne, Oisin Farrell; Cathal Cosgrove (0-2), Conal Hession (1-1), Tomas Fahy (1-1). Subs: Anucha Mullaney for Cathal Cosgrove.
Mayo Ease Past Armagh
Up next was Armagh on the outside pitch in Ballyshannon. In a stop/start game which failed to gain any rhythm throughout, but Mayo still had plenty in the tank to account for the Ulster challenge.
Two early goals from Mayo sharp-shooter Tomas Fahy, gave his side the confidence to ease into the game while again freetaker Paddy Dozio was radar-like from the long range dead balls. Dozio again was on the mark as he raced through from midfield just before half time to goal for Mayo to give the Westerners a 3-3 to 0-0 lead at the interval.
The second half saw Armagh come more into the game, but when Conal Hession converted another goal for Mayo, the result was never beyond doubt. With the eminent final in close proximity, many of the squad players got their chance to impress in this game, with substitutes Jamie Duffy and Darren Murray both putting in good shifts when introduced from the bench.
Mayo’s victory in this tie stemmed from a strong defensive display, with Conor Dempsey and Daclan Henry both curtailing the Armagh tide from their corner-back positions.
Mayo: Conor Galvin; Declan Henry, Danny Hill, Conor Dempsey; Tom Rushe, Padraig Murphy, Jack Deegan; Paddy Dozio (1-2,2f), Cian Mulchrone (0-1); Finn McKeown (0-1), Ross Beirne, Anucha Mullaney (0-1); Cathal Cosgrove (0-1), Conal Hession (1-0), Tomas Fahy (2-1). Subs: Jamie Duffy for Ross Beirne, Jason Monroe for Jack Deegan, Darren Murray for Tomas Fahy, Matthew Rooney for Declan Henry, James Doyle for Conal Hession, Ronan Treacy for Finn McKeown, John Kennedy for Anucha Mullaney, Nathan Colleran for Paddy Dozio, Brian King for Cian Mulchrone.
Grit and determination brings Title to the West
It was back to the main pitch in Ballyshannon for the final against a strongly rated home Donegal side. In this 40 minute game, there was very little between the two very well matched sides as they shaped up for a tough battle.
Mayo played with the aid of the slight breeze in the opening half, and made it count with early points from Dozio, Cosgrove and Fahy. But Donegal rallied with points of their own to leave little between the sides. Mayo were unlucky not to get in for two goals, as both Cathal Cosgrove and Oisin Farrell saw their close range goal-bound shots saved by the Donegal keeper. Just before half time, Mayo eventually got the break as again Mayo full forward Conal Hession goaled with style, as he rounded the advancing Donegal keeper before finishing with aplomb. This goal gave Mayo a 1-6 to 0-5 half time lead, but Mayo would be facing into the breeze in the second half.
Early in the second half, Donegal got off to the perfect start. The Ulster side won three frees in quick succession and all were converted with style – leaving just the minimum between the sides. Mayo rallied however, and Cosgrove again, along with Finn McKeown kept the scoreboard ticking over for Mayo. Conal Hession with a point for Mayo was next to keep Donegal on the back foot as the clock ticked on. Try as they might, Donegal couldn’t break down the Mayo rear-guard with Mayo keeper Conor Galvin coming to his sides rescue on several occasions. Tiredness and injuries began to mount for Mayo but the side kept battling until the very end. Eventually the final whistle sounded to the delight of the Mayo players, mentors, parents and supporters present.
Mayo had heroes all over the field in the final, but the half back line throughout stood firm all day – and especially in the final. Tom Rushe, Padraig Murphy and Jack Deegan fought throughout and gave it their all especially in the closing stages. At midfield – Cian Mulchrone and Paddy Dozio left everything on the field, while up front the Mayo full forward line of Cosgrove, Hession and Fahy were scoring machines all day.
After the game, captain of the Mayo side Paddy Dozio accepted the Peter O’Keefe Memorial Cup from the O’Keefe family amid joyous celebrations from the large Mayo support present.
Mayo: Conor Galvin; Declan Henry, Danny Hill, Conor Dempsey; Tom Rushe, Padraig Murphy, Jack Deegan; Paddy Dozio (0-4,3f), Cian Mulchrone; Finn McKeown (0-1), Ross Beirne, Oisin Farrell; Cathal Cosgrove (0-2), Conal Hession (1-1), Tomas Fahy (0-2). Subs: Anucha Mullaney for Cathal Cosgrove.
The Mayo U16 Hurling Development squad have been together throughout the summer and have been training hard in Ballyvary for the past 10 weeks. Five clubs – namely Tooreen, Westport, Caiseal Gaels, Castlebar and Ballina make up the Mayo U16 hurling panel. Mentors from each of the clubs give their time to make sure the players are at training and games, and are delivered a high intensity training session. This year a strong management panel was put in place with Ger Greally (Tooreen), Finbar Craughwell (Caiseal Gaels), Jamie Rooney (Ballina), John Kennedy (Castlebar) and Ger Murphy all rowing in to make this result possible. The management group is co-ordinated by Adrian Hession (Mayo GAA Development Officer).