NEWCESTOWN got their hands on the Rebel Óg county minor hurling championship Division 1 title for the first time since 2012 after they beat Kanturk 1-24 to 1-14.
The West Cork club are on the crest of a wave at the moment, having claimed county minor A hurling glory as well as reaching this week’s county football decider against Clyda Rovers. Add to that, upcoming U21 county hurling semi-final and county football final appearances, and Newcestown’s underage progress ranks among the best of any Carbery club over the past decade.
But it is hardly surprising considering Newcestown have shown it is possible to field competitive football and hurling teams at senior level.
Charlie Wilson and his fellow selectors deserve praise for guiding a talented Newcestown minor squad to the brink of a unique football and hurling county ‘double’.
‘There were a lot more games in the minor A hurling grade this year because of the introduction of a back-door system,’ Newcestown coach and selector Fionn Keane said.
‘We defeated Bandon in the opening round before getting over Aghabullogue, Cloughduv and Ibane in the final which was held in Clonakilty. That qualified Newcestown for the county section where we defeated Carrigtwohill in the semi-finals. That set up a meeting with Kanturk in the county final and once again the lads were absolutely brilliant in winning out 1-24 to 1-15.’
While Kanturk moved 1-4 to 0-4 clear early on, Richard O’Sullivan struck a goal for Newcestown to level the game and then the Carbery side kicked on. O’Sullivan, the prolific Ed Kenneally, Eoghan Collins and David Buckley were all on target as Newcestown led 1-14 to 1-8 at half time.Near the three-quarter mark, Newcestown led 1-19 to 1-10, and they were never trouble en route to county glory.
Clearly, this is a special group of players coming through the Newcestown ranks as the West Cork club has also reached a U21 county hurling semi-final and football final.
‘It is pretty much the exact same squad for our minor hurling and football ball teams this year,’ Keane stated.
‘A lot of the lads play in the same positions as well. Charlie Wilson, Micheál McSweeney, Pat Kenneally, Murt Keneally and myself have been in charge of both the minor hurling and football squads. Eadaoin O’Donovan and Caroline McSweeney have been there too with the first aid.
‘I suppose you can never really plan to reach two county minor finals, but we knew we had a very talented squad back at the start of the year. We felt the teams could go far if we prepared properly and got things right. We had the same group of players since last year but weren’t successful. Last year was a bit of a let-down so we wanted to put that right.
‘I don’t really know how we manage it just seems kind of built into our players that they are able to manage playing hurling and football. We simply do the best we can with both really.’
There is plenty of potential and inter-county talent emerging from Newcestown’s underage ranks as evidenced by in-form Ed Kenneally’s personal haul of 0-13 (nine frees) in the county final win over Kanturk. Add in the likes of David Buckley and Colm O’Donovan and there is plenty to look forward in Newcestown’s immediate and long-term future.
‘Colm O’Donovan was injured for much of last year but managed to recover and make the Cork minor hurling panel,’ Fionn Keane noted.
‘David Buckley was on the Cork U20 football panel, has been brilliant for the club’s seniors and is a big player for us at minor. Ed Kenneally has been causing wreck at minor and U21 for us as well this year. His scoring rate means Ed should definitely be looked at for one of the Cork panels.’
No matter what happens between now and the end of the year, it has already been a seismic 12 months for Newcestown at minor and U21 level.
The West Cork’s young talent are setting a new standard for teams coming through with their dedication and application, not to mention overcoming a heavy schools and club GAA schedule to move within touching distance of a quartet of county trophies.
The 2019 Newcestown minor county hurling winning squad included Cathal Wilson, Ciaran Durkin, Darragh Buttimer, Gavin Kelleher, Eoin Calnan, Eoghan Collins (0-1), Seamus O’Sullivan, Colm O’Donovan (0-4, 1f), Olan Walsh, Adam Giles, Ed Kenneally (0-13, 9f), David Buckley (0-3), Niall Kelly (0-1), Richard O’Sullivan (1-2), James Ryan, Ronan McSweeney, Ross Power, Darragh McSweeney, JJ Flanagan, Eoin McSweeney, Cormac O’Sullivan, Joe Kenneally, Ciaran O’Donovan, James Burrows, Daire McAree and Brian Murphy.