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2005-Caulry Under 14s steal the limelight

Caulry Under 14s steal the limelight

28 February 2006

In a year when Caulry were relegated back to the junior ranks, the spotlight fell on the club’s outstanding under 14 team which won the Feile Shield, and also came tantalizingly close to reaping league and championship honours. Here, team mentor Noel Ryan reflects on an eventful 12 months for the Mount Temple young guns.

Caulry may have endured the heartbreak of relegation to the junior ranks in 2005, but it was by no means a poor year for the Mount Temple-based outfit.

Whatever about the present, the future looks rosy after the club’s highly talented under 14 team made a huge impression over the past 12 months. They started the year by winning the Feile na nOg Shield and subsequently reached the league and championship finals which both ended in defeat to Mullingar Shamrocks.

They also took part in the Leinster Feile blitz in Wicklow and returned home with the Division 2 title.
“It was great for a small club like ours to be competing and faring so well against the top clubs last year,” Caulry under 14 team mentor Noel Ryan proudly states.

“We got the better of everyone in the county except for Mullingar Shamrocks who beat us in the league and championship finals. We won the Feile Shield and also won Division 2 of the Leinster Feile blitz in Wicklow. All in all, it was a great year and the potential these lads have shown certainly augers well for the future.”

Under the tutelage of Ryan and his fellow mentors Pat Canty and Donie Malone, the Caulry under 14s reached the semi-final of the Feile na nOg competition in April where they suffered their first defeat of the year to Mullingar Shamrocks. As beaten semi-finalists, the Mount Temple boys qualified for the Feile Shield final which resulted in an emphatic 3-8 to 0-3 victory over Rosemount.

The final was played in wet conditions at Cusack Park and despite facing into the breeze in the first half, Caulry led by 2-4 to 0-2 at the break thanks to goals from captain Robert Kenny and corner forward Jamal Sabir. Rosemount defended resolutely at the start of the second half, but Caulry’s pressure was relentless and it eventually reaped dividends when Kenny grabbed his second goal. Two further points from the team captain sealed an impressive victory for the team in red and white.

In June, Caulry headed to Wicklow to take part in the Leinster Feile blitz which was essentially a dry-run for the All-Ireland Feile na nOg finals that are taking place in the Garden County this year. Competing in Division 2, Caulry had big wins over Arklow Geraldines (Wicklow), St. Laurence’s (Kildare) and St. Oliver Plunkett’s (Louth) to set up a meeting with St. Vincent’s of Offaly in the final.

Following an evenly-contested first half, the Westmeath representatives cut loose after the break to run out comprehensive winners by 3-9 to 0-6. Robert Kenny scored Caulry’s first goal just before half-time, while Jamal Sabier and Robert Ryan also found the net after the restart.

In the championship, Caulry beat Garrycastle, Castledaly, Bunbrosna and Maryland/Tang to qualify for the final where they faced Mullingar Shamrocks on September 17 in Tyrrellspass. Caulry entered the game in a confident frame of mind and were well in contention until Stuart Flynn scored a late goal to give the town side a 3-7 to 1-9 victory.

The first half was a tight, tense and low-scoring affair, at the end of which the teams were level on 0-4 each. Playing into a stiff breeze, Caulry found the going tough in the early stages, but inspired by Ben Moran, Eoghan Grennan, Alan Fitzpatick and James Daly, they got themselves back onto level terms after 22 minutes. David Gavin edged Shamrocks back in front before Daly’s third pointed free tied up the scoring once again at the interval.

The Mount Temple outfit made a great start to the second half when Robert Ryan was brought down for a penalty and Ben Moran made no mistake from the spot-kick. But Shamrocks then hit an unanswered 1-1 before Michael O’Riordan, who was playing with a broken thumb, grabbed the equalizing point on 41 minutes.
Robert Kenny and Enda Morris exchanged points to leave the sides on level terms at the end of the third quarter. Mullingar then swooped for their second goal through Aaron Andrews, but two points from James Daly and Robert Ryan reduced the deficit to the minimum. 

However, as the game ticked into injury-time, Stuart Flynn scored a third goal and Dean Moore followed up with a point to make it 3-7 to 1-9. Alan Fitzpatrick pulled back a point for Caulry, but time ran out on them as Shamrocks held on for the win.

Caulry had hoped it would be a case of third-time lucky when they faced Shamrocks in the league final at the end of October. After recording a replay victory over Coralstown/Kinnegad in the semi-final, they were well prepared for the challenge but the unavailability of star midfielder Alan Fitzpatrick, who was attending Irish soccer trials on the same day, was a major blow to their hopes.

Despite Fitzpatrick’s absence, there was little to separate the sides and Caulry might have claimed victory but for a late penalty miss.
“Last year’s under 14 team was exceptional and we’re hoping to have a decent under 16 team as a result this year. We’ll be building towards winning the under 16 championship in 2007,” says the Doon native, who is now living in Baylin.

The other highpoint of the year for Caulry was the under 21 team’s qualification for the 13-a-side championship final. After receiving a walkover from St. Mary’s, Rochfortbridge in the first round, they beat Kilbeggan Shamrocks by 4-8 to 1-4 in the quarter-final and accounted for Castletown-Finea/Coole/Whitehall by 2-7 to 2-3 in the semi-final on St. Stephen’s Day. At the time of writing, they were waiting to play either Tyrrellspass or Killucan in the decider.

2005 was far from a vintage season for the Caulry adult team who surrendered their intermediate status just two years after winning the junior championship. Indeed, the only positive was their survival in Division 2 of the All-County League.

“I wasn’t involved with the intermediate team, but there is no doubt that it was a disappointing year for them. They were desperately unlucky in a few of their games and that seemed to knock the stuffing out of them. But overall, I don’t think the same enthusiasm was there as in previous years,” Noel remarks.
Dublin native John Foley began the year as Caulry manager, but was replaced midway through by Danny Sammon from Tubberclair. The tone for a disappointing championship was set when Caulry lost their opening game of the campaign to Ballynacargy by 0-10 to 1-13, and further defeats followed against Moate All-Whites (1-7 to 1-11), Killucan (0-10 to 1-9) and Shandonagh (2-8 to 1-12) before they recorded their first win over Castletown-Finea/Coole/Whitehall on a 2-13 to 1-7 scoreline.

But relegation to the junior championship became a reality when they succumbed to newly-promoted St. Joseph’s by 0-8 to 0-12 in their final group match.
Despite last year’s disappointment, Ryan is confident that Caulry will be able to bounce back in the coming season.

“I can see no reason why Caulry can’t come straight back up. Ballinagore did it last year and if anything, Caulry are a younger team. With the right attitude, they can win the junior championship and put last year’s disappointment behind them in the process,” he concludes.

The Caulry under 14 team which defeated Rosemount in the Feile na nOg Shield final was: James Egan; David Hannify, Ian Ledwith, Simon Carr; Michael O’Riordan, Eoin Grennan, Aidan Murphy; Alan Fitzpatrick, James Daly; Shane Shortall, Kevin Maguire, Ben Moran; Jamal Sabier, Robert Kenny, Robert Ryan. Subs: Mark Muldoon, Jason Conlon, Michael McCormack, Padraig Heavin, John Maguire, Danny Fitzpatrick.