Tuesday 12 November 2019

Hurling stars for the future set to showcase talents at underage tournament

Tipperary’s Noel McGrath has starred in the past in the prestigious U16 tournament
Tipperary’s Noel McGrath has starred in the past in the prestigious U16 tournament

Damian Lawlor

The Tipperary Supporters Club All-Ireland Under 16 Tournament, a breeding ground for stars of the future, will take place on August 29 in the Premier County.

In the past players like Joe Canning, Eoin Kelly, Brendan Maherand Limerick's Cian Lynch have all graced the fields in this prestigious U16 competition and gone on to feature prominently for their counties as senior hurlers.

This year 14 counties are taking part in both the A and B competitions. The matches will be played in Mid Tipperary venues.

"We are delighted to stage all finals in Semple Stadium and they will be covered by TG4," says Tipp Bord na Nog treasurer Catherine Gleeson.

"It will be a hectic day - at 3.15pm the Shield final of the A competition will be played, at 4.30pm The 'B' Final (Tipperary Supporters Cup) will be held while at 6.0pm the 'A' Final ( The John Doyle Cup) will take place.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

This hugely popular and esteemed tournament started in 1988 and was first sponsored by Nenagh Co-Op and later ArrabawnCo-op.

Initially only four counties took part - Tipperary, Limerick, Clare and Galway.

"Tommy Dunne, aged only 14, played and won that first tournament in 1988," Catherine Gleeson recalls. It just grew and grew."

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Other counties gradually came on board. In 2006, the Tipperary Supporters Club became chief sponsors.

In 2011, Croke Park in conjunction with the Games and Development Committee changed the format of running the tournament.

"We now run a 'B' competition," the Bord na Nog treasurer adds. "Perhaps the only 'down side' to this new format is that it now has to be completed in one day - prior to 2011 all finals were played on the Sunday."

Eight counties have won this competition. Tipperary lead the way with 11 titles followed closely by Galway winning it on seven occasions. This year Kildare are taking part for the first time and they will enter the B competition.

A host of present Tipperary senior hurlers all played in this competition, with Brendan Maher, Noel McGrath, Shane McGrath, Niall O'Meara, Cathal Barrett, Pauric and Ronan Maher and John 'Bubbles' O'Dwyer all excelling at this level.

From other counties the most prominent senior hurlers of this season are Lynch, Canning and Colin Dunford (Waterford).

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