21 strong we arrived in mild conditions to the spectacular natural amphitheatre that is Marley Park. Surrounded by the smell of fresh flowers, new shoots on trees and the gently sloping Dublin hills to the south and southwest of our battleground, it was a perfect spring morning for frolicking merrily in the breeze like Forrest Gump and his beloved Jenny or alternatively for a blood n guts game of hurling 😉.
So at 10am our three teams engaged with their counterparts and from the get go it was evident that this would be a high energy encounter across the six games that would follow. Our last visit to St Johns, for football, was rewarding and on that day we had very commanding performances across the majority of the games, today was no different, however the Gers weren’t to have it all their own way entirely as we did leak some simple scores on occasion and failed to convert some scoring opportunities ourselves that resulted in a couple of losses.
Across the three pitches the play was scrappy to begin with and this would be a consistent feature across the more competitive games, but more on that later. Of primary note throughout the performances across the games, was the eagerness of the boys to defend, challenge, block and clash for ground ball. Two weeks of focussed hurling training really yielded dividends as it was evident many of the boys had grown in confidence, and the capacity to bring a more physical level of defence to their game was really noticeable …. about time too dare we suggest 😉. Coaches and parents in attendance all shared a sense of satisfaction as the clash of ash echoed around the park, all in all it was pretty inspiring stuff from the boys.
So a breakdown by team . . .
Team 1 left Ballinteer with a loss and a win and it’s worth noting that the first game was a tight and scrappy contest right until the last strike of the game as Ballinteer managed to scrap one over the line, striking was lacking in this one and we missed an opportunity to nick a draw at least, as we missed some strike-able sitters, but that would change as the morning wore on. Game 2 began in a similar manner to the first with big defensive efforts being put in by Charlie D, Tom M and Luke M, half time saw us a 1-1. Second half, however was very different, as Charlie C, Alex S and Matthew started to get the striking game going and the Gers dominance became evident. With clean striking we were able to feed possession to Tom and Ben who in turn could provide passes to the ever industrious and wonderous dribbling of Luke M and Charlie D. Once ball started to free up, Gers started to score. A spectacular strike from Charlie C so a net busting score from almost the half way line, stunned silence all round 😉, this was quickly followed by 3 scores from Alex S, a score from Charlie D who also nabbed the only Gers gaol of game one, one from Luke M and one from Matthew. Not to dwell on it, but this was very impressive stuff as Ballinteer struggled to keep pace as the ball was pinged about the pitch, free ball means a less scrappy game and this second half really highlighted this. All in all top stuff and a huge win for the boys in terms of realising what they were capable of.
Team 2 had two hugely competitive games with a loss and a draw and were unlucky not to grab a win in the second game as it went to the last puck of the game for Ballinteer to draw level. Overall the boys demonstrated superior striking and movement than we had seen previously, with particular improvement seen in Alex G by coach Ian. The big point of note was again on the defensive improvements. A stand out contribution came from Jonathon W who put his endless resources of energy into the defensive duties across both games, blocking and clearing several times. Again we saw a huge work rate from Niall and Joshua who both managed productive shifts with high levels of engagement. Thomas D was very unlukcy not to have scored as he battled hard to make one count for the Gers in a the hugely competitive second game. Again we witnessed consistent striking and attacking contributions from Donacha and Alex K who it must be said both have natural balance and ability when striking, both boys are hugely talented assets to the team and look likely to rapidly advance and build on their current and impressive skillsets.
Team 3 had a hugely successful morning with 2 wins from the 2 games. Possibly the most free flowing games of the morning as there was plenty of striking and movement as Patrick and Beon cleaned out ball from heavy traffic and were able to get consistently clean strikes particularly on moving ball, unquestionably this made the difference, more movement delivers a less scrappy games. Busy play box to box from Beon was the stand out contribution noted by coach Stephen across the two games along with the industrious input from Jamie G throughout both games. Again excellent defensive effort from Luke J with busy performances put in by Jamie G and Dylan Murray as the boys delivered 2 for 2. Stong stuff and again a great chance for the boys to see what they are capable of delivering once they keep focussed.
So all in all a productive day once again for the u8’s in Marley Park, we continue to develop and grow in confidence and we look forward to progressing even further as the season rolls on. Once again huge thanks to the parents that attend, continue to assist and show an interest in the boys, it’s a massive contribution to their development and as always we strongly encourage every player to practice at home. Onwards!