Boss Dowling convinced Causeway's hard work will reap rewards
IN recent times, North Kerry would have been more synonymous with the exploits of footballers Tadhg Kennelly and Paul Galvin, but Causeway Comprehensive have brought a new type of renown to the area.
The school's senior hurlers contest today's All-Ireland Vocational Schools final against Banagher College as they look to add the senior title to the U-16 crown won earlier this year.
Success on the hurling fields is not new to Causeway but many people would be surprised to know that in their catchment area, football is a distant second.
"A lot of our lads wouldn't play football at all," said team manager Willie Dowling. "We pull from the major hurling clubs in Kerry that supply the county senior team."
However, football is not ignored by any stretch of the imagination. In 2003 they won the senior All-Ireland title beating Peter Canavan's Cookstown in the All-Ireland decider. "Sometimes a bunch of lads come along that are more interested in football and you run with that," Dowling says.
They became the first side to reach both the All-Ireland senior Vocational Schools football and hurling finals in 2001 but lost both deciders. They have tasted plenty of success since and with 10 of the successful junior side involved in the panel tomorrow, they have a good chance of adding to their roll of honour.
Dowling's side are a relatively experienced bunch, with each of the 27-strong squad holding an All-Ireland 'B' medal at either U-16 or minor level with Kerry.
According to Dowling, the school are now reaping the rewards of the work done at National School level by coach Maurice Leahy who is also a part of the management team.
"Maurice used to cover a lot of the county and now he is more concentrated in our area and that has made a huge difference. We used to not start coaching lads until they were 13 or 14 but it starts much earlier now.
"You see National School lads with a school bag, a gear bag and a helmet and hurl and he can barely get on the bus with everything they are carrying. But we are reaping the rewards now."
Today's clash with Banagher is a repeat of last year's U-16 All-Ireland final, which Causeway won by four points.
"Banagher are going to be very focused because they won't want to lose in two finals to the same opposition. There was very little in it last year and there'll be a lot of the same players starting for both sides. It's will be a battle but I think our lads are ready. They have trained every Sunday morning since January in all types of weather, they're a good bunch."