The Castleisland Boys' U-13 Community Games Basketball squad started training back in January. Then, a team of ten was picked and put through its paces.
Grind turned to gain when they arrived home with yet another haul of All-Ireland gold medals around their necks on Sunday evening
For generations now, teams of youngsters, parents and coaches have been leaving town quietly on a Friday night / Saturday morning and returning in the same state of jubilation that we heard and saw on Sunday evening.
I'm convinced that if we ever develop a sporting inferiority complex here it's that we'll think that everyone else is nearly as good as us.
Sunday evening's victory parade was conducted in traditional, horn-blaring motorcade style. There was a brief, welcome home stop at the Desmonds GAA Club grounds and the cavalcade wound its way down to Hartnett's Corner and ended with a couple of laps of the town.
Joint coach and team spokesperson, Brid Kenny tells the tale of how the squad evolved from the depths of winter to their glorious arrival on a golden, autumn evening with the job well and truly done.
"We competed in the Kerry finals in March where the boys showed off their skills and strengths to win comfortably. They got a few weeks off after this and then began training in earnest for the Munster finals which were being held in Tralee at the end of June.
Here they knew all their skills would be tested. In the semi-final they met Cork. After a slow first half the boys soon found their rhythm and ran out winners by 15 pts. We met a Limerick side who won the provincial championship in 2012. Our boys had their eye on the prize from the start and won this game by 20pts.
Now the hard training started. The boys might say it had started in January but they really pushed themselves for the final few weeks.
On Saturday morning at Athlone IT we met old rivals Moycullen of Galway. The first five of: Eddie and Sean Horan, David Shanahan, Donal Geaney and Joseph Sheehy really pulled out all stops and got off to a flying 16-0 start.
The Galway mentors called a time out and regrouped and tried to bring the lead down but with Stephen Murphy, Adam O'Donoghue and Charlie Conway being introduced before half time the Island boys kept the lead going into half time to leave it at 25-12.
The second half saw a different Galway team come out of the blocks and they clawed back the lead to just four points. Then, Donal Geaney hit back with six unanswered points and Eddie added another six and we were comfortably back in the lead. Galway tried to come back again but with David Shanahan and Sean Horan controlling the boards and Jack Brosnan-Reidy and P.J. Curtin coming on there was no way back for them and we won 42-26," said Brid.
Another early start on Sunday morning saw the Islanders face a very tall Malahide team. The Castleisland boys knew from the start they wanted the gold and everyone of them, from 1 to 10 played brilliantly.
The same first five started again and forced the game from the off. They were under a height disadvantage here as the Dublin side had one player of 6'- 3" in their line-up.
However, like the biblical tale, Castleisland had a David for their Goliath. David Shanahan soon took charge of their 'big man' and didn't give him an inch on the court and out jumped him at every chance.
"Eddie and Sean were like twin rockets up and down the court pushing the Dubs at every angle with Eddie scoring 20pts. Joseph Sheehy controlled the top of defence and Donal was great under the board and also scored five points. Stephen Murphy was introduced before half time and scored within seconds to finish 19-13. We started the second half strongly again and Adam O'Donoghue, Jack Brosnan-Reidy P.J. Curtin and Charlie Conway all came on here and added greatly to the game. Final score: Castleisland 37 Malahide 29.
Team and scorers: Eddie Horan 20points; David Shanahan 8 points; Donal Geaney 5 points; Sean Horan and Stephen Murphy two points each; Joseph Sheehy, Adam O Donoghue, Jack Brosnan Reidy, P.J Curtin and Charlie Conway.
Twins, Eddie and Sean Horan were joint captains of the team. A huge thanks to all the parents who supported the team so well," said a delighted Ms. Kenny in conclusion.