Banner U15 Hurlers Regional Feile All Ireland Finalists
The Banner U15 hurlers qualified for the Regional Inter-county Feile competition played in Mallow Co Cork on May 28th 2022 as a result of winning the Clare Division 3 County Feile Final in April 2022. The format of the Regional Feile was an All-Ireland inter-county club competition between the Division 3 Feile County winners from Kilkenny, Wexford, Galway, Tipperary, Waterford, Cork, Limerick and the Banner GAA Club Ennis as the County Clare representatives.
The format of the 8 team competition was two groups of four, with the top 2 teams in each group qualifying for the semi-finals and the third and fourth placed teams playing off in the shield competition.
The Banner Ennis lads were placed in Group 2 against the Tipperary (Ballina), Waterford (Clonea) and Wexford (Moguegeen Gaels) champions. On the other side of the draw, Group 1 contained the Feile Div 3 County winners from Cork (Lisgoold), Kilkenny (Mullinavat), Galway (Ahascragh-Fohenagh) and Blackrock (Limerick).
The entire competition was played off in a 1 day blitz format, with Group games played on a 15 minutes per half basis and the Feile subs rule applying, mandating that a minimum of 4 subs must be introduced at pre-defined timeouts during the games. By the time the Banner lads had finished the final action they had played 5 matches in as many hours!
The Banner GAA Ennis Team and Panel
The Banner Ennis panel travelled with 23 players on the day as our regular goalkeeper Conor Coffey was unavailable. A minimum of 19 players played in every match per the Feile subs rule.
The Banner started the day with Frankie Toner between the posts, but when our full back and captain Caleb Walsh sustained a leg injury in the first game, Caleb took over the goalkeeping duties for the remainder of the day and Frankie moved to his more regular position in the forwards.
The full back for some of the day was Keelan Bane with Tony Burke and Keelan alternating between full and corner back with Max Montwill in the other corner.
The half back had Eoin Fitzpatrick in the centre all day with Tom Spelman on one wing and James O’Connor on the other, with Ethan Walsh slotting into wing back regularly throughout the days matches.
The hard working pair of Ben O’Halloran and Conal O’Reilly manned the mid field berths.
In the forwards, Cailum Henchy was at centre forward and Scott O’Loughlin-Kelly at full forward. Finn Duignan, Paddy Molony and Sean Hegarty generally filled the wing forward positions. The corner forward positions were filled by Thomas Mathius-Williams, Frankie Toner, Sean Crowe, Jack Burke, Niall Casey and Tadhg Bane. Eoghan McAleer and Zach Mulcaire both played in the third group game versus the Wexford side. This meant that all panel members were able to get match time during the competition. This is important from a coaching development viewpoint and also in keeping with the intended ethos of the Feile competition.
The full Banner GAA Ennis Feile panel were numbered as follows for the compeition: 1. Conor Coffey, 2. Tony Burke, 3. Caleb Walsh, 4. Max Montwill, 5. James O’Connor, 6. Eoin Fitzpatrick, 7. Tom Spelman, 8. Conal O’Reilly, 9. Ben O’Halloran, 10. Finn Duignan, 11. Cailum Henchy, 12. Paddy Molony, 13. Keelan Bane, 14. Scott O’Loughlin-Kelly, 15. Frankie Toner, 16. Jack Burke, 17. Ethan Walsh, 18. Sean Hegarty, 19. Sean Crowe, 20. Tadhg Bane, 21. Niall Casey, 22. Thomas Mathius-Williams, 23. Eoghan McAleer, 24. Zach Mulcair.
The Feile Series of Matches, Saturday 28th May 2022, Mallow.
Group 2, Round 1 Result
Banner GAA, Ennis (Clare) 1-06 Ballina (Tipperary) 0-08
The first game commenced at 11am and even at that early stage of the day the conditions were hot, nearing 20 degrees. As the scoreline suggests there was nothing between the teams and it was end to end stuff, score for score, with Scott O’Loughlin-Kelly keeping the points tally ticking over, both from frees and from play. It was 4 points each by half time. In the second half Ballina squeezed ahead but in the closing 5 minutes Paddy Molony struck for 1-01 and the Banner managed to see out the game by the narrowest of margins. Tony Burke and Keelan Bane were excellent in defence, Tom Spelman and James O’Connor rock solid in the half back line, Ben O’Halloran did very well at midfield and the scores up front came from the aforementioned O’Loughlin-Kelly, Molony and Cailum Henchy.
Group 2, Round 2 Result
Banner GAA, Ennis (Clare) 1-08 Clonea (Waterford) 2-03
The heat of the day got more intense as the Banner faced into round 2 versus the Waterford side Clonea who had also won their opening game against their Wexford opponents. The Banner lads played with greater fluency in this game and got into their rhythm early. Caleb Walsh adapted well to his new role in the goals and with good deliveries to our forwards, Finn Duignan and Cailum Henchy were excelling and getting the required scores. Conal O’Reilly was covering a lot of ground and getting through an amount of work and link play at midfield and Scott O’Loughlin-Kelly was a constant threat to the Clonea defence. In the Second half the Banner had managed to open a gap and were actually leading by 1-08 to 1-03 in the dying moments when Clonea got a goal which caused a bit of nervousness for the Banner spectators for the closing 30 seconds before the referee blew the final whistle. This result left the Banner at the top of the Group table with four points.
Group 2, Round 3 Result
Banner GAA, Ennis (Clare) 1-11 Moguegeen Gaels (Wexford) 1-02
Following the 2 wins the Banner Ennis were now guaranteed to top the Group 2 table as they had 4 points and by using the head to head rule in the event of a tie, we had defeated both of the teams that could also get to 4 points. The positioning in the table allowed the Banner to commence strong and bring in fresh legs. The Banner lads lead from the start and had gone 8 points ahead within a few minutes. The temperatures will still soaring so lots of fresh legs were introduced in this game. Eoin Fitzpatrick really came to the fore in this match and totally dominated proceedings from centre back. In the second half Tadhg Bane and Tom Spelman excelled as did Thomas Mathius Williams and Sean Hegarty who picked off a good score. In Ethan Walsh had a very good game at wing back and Frankie Toner and Sean Crowe got on some good ball.
All Ireland Feile Semi Final Result (After Extra Time)
Banner GAA, Ennis (Clare) 2-11 Blackrock (Limerick) 3-06
Having won Group 1 the Banner now faced the Blackrock Club from the Kilfinane / Ardpatrick parishes in Limerick in the semi final. This game was a thriller and had everything . It was end to end stuff with fantastic scores by both sides, O’Loughlin –Kelly , Henchy and Duignan providing many of the scores and there was a tremendous long range effort also from Fitzpatrick into the mix. Nearing the end of normal time, the Banner lead by 4 points when there was an off the ball incident that left 2 Banner players down injured. The referee saw no reason to take action and awarded an indirect free to Blackrock. The supporters from both sides were getting excited now as the game was in the melting pot and the exchanges in the contact in the middle third were tough, with no quarter asked nor given. From the indirect free , Blackrock worked a goal and following the puckout they subsequently won a free on the left wing on the sideline which was the last chance for Blackrock to equalise. The Blackrock half forward calmly slotted the point and the referee blew for full time. The draw resulted in 2 x 5 minute periods of extra time to be played.
The Banner team re-grouped at full time and there was a belief that if we focused on our own game we had the potential to get into the final. But it was going to take a huge team effort. On the re-start the midfielders and forwards linked up well and the Banner raced back into a 3 point lead. Early in the second period the Banner made it a four point advantage when disaster struck and Blackrock were in for 2 goals within the pace of a minute. With 2 minutes to go in extra time the Banner trailed by 2 points when Cailum Henchy won a long clearance from James O’Connor, Henchy beat his man and shot over the shoulder to narrow the gap to 1 point with little more than a minute remaining on the clock. From the Blackrock puckout, Ben O’Halloran broke the ball down to Conal O’Reilly who collected and delivered a 40 metre stick pass to the hand of Scott O’Loughlin-Kelly who grabbed the ball and headed for goal. Scott was hauled to the ground by the Blackrock defenders and the referee ran in and signalled that he was awarding a penalty to the Banner. Cailum Henchy stepped up to take the penalty. The referee advised that there would only be 30 seconds of further play once the ball was struck. Henchy decided to go for goal and coolly roofed the sliotar to the top left hand corner of the net leaving the Banner ahead by 2 points. The Banner won the puckout and worked the ball to Finn Duignan who raced down the left wing with the ball before firing over an exquisite score to seal the game. The ref blew up on the puck out the Banner players and supporters celebrated a victory that they will remember and cherish for a long time to come. The had travelled to Mallow not knowing what to expect and after one of the most exhausting and exciting games they had ever been involved in, they now found themselves qualified for the Feile final.
All Ireland Feile Final Result
Banner GAA, Ennis (Clare) 1-03 Ballina (Tipperary) 1-11
With only a 20 minute rest period between the conclusion of extra time in the semi final and the commencement of the final, it was a huge ask for the Banner lads to get the bodies and heads right after the rollercoaster semi-final excitement. In their semi final Ballina had eliminated the Cork Feile champions Lisgoold. So the Banner faced Ballina for a second time in the final who we had narrowly beaten in round 1.
The format of the final was 2 x periods of 12 minutes per half. Ballina raced into an early lead and within a few minutes were ahead by 1-05 to 0-02 before the Banner really knew what had hit them. To their credit the Banner lads battled admirably and the Ballina keeper brought off two excellent saves from goal efforts by O’Loughlin-Kelly. By half time Ballina lead by 1-09 to 0-02 and the Banner boys gasping for air in the searing heat re-grouped once more to see how they could try and counter the Ballina onslaught.
For the second half there were a few positional changes that yielded a better return for the Ennis lads. However with the shortened periods for each half and size of the deficit the Banner side had little choice but to pursue goals. The Banner lads dominated the second half but the Ballina keeper and full back line defended well against a few Banner goal chances. Eoin Fitzpatrick added a point for the Banner and then Thomas Mathius-Williams struck for a Banner goal. However, the Ennis lads ran out of the time required to capitalise further on the momentum and Ballina were ultimately winners with an 8 point margin.
After the game the Feile organizing committee presented the Trophy to the Ballina Captain.
All 23 boys performed very well throughout the day at different stages. Caleb Walsh did very well in his newly adapted goalie position for the day, Tony Burke and Keelan Bane were outstanding in the full back line. Eoin Fitz, Tom Spelman and James O’Connor were solid in the half back line. At midfield , Ben O’Halloran and Conal O’Reilly ran themselves into the ground, won ball and delivered great ball to our inside forwards. Cailum Henchy was fantastic in the forwards in all the games. Finn Duignan demonstrated wonderful skills and speed as he buzzed around the Mallow pitches and Scott O’Loughlin-Kelly did a huge amount of our scoring and gave huge leadership in attack all day.
The End of the Feile Day & the Journey Home
A very disappointed and exhausted Banner team made their way to our camp where we had setup for the day. After some tears were shed there were words of encouragement for the boys about how proud the club and supporters and parent were of the team performances in reaching the Feile Intercounty Final. Once we were back on the bus the mood cheered up and after everyone had been fed and watered at Corbett Court en Route home the boys were looking for forward eager to know who we were due to face in our next match! Our season will conclude with the completion of our involvement in the U15B county championship and then the focus will turn to U15 football for the summer months. Congratulations are due to the boys for their double achievement of winning the Clare Feile and the qualifying for the AI Feile Final in Mallow. Feile in Mallow was a day that will be etched in the memory banks for a long time to come. Banner Abu!!