Hurling: Kilmacud Crokes V Geraldine P Morans, 11am, Sat 25th Feb, Stepaside.
It was a blustery grey morning when U8 Gers pulled on their beloved black and amber jerseys like well prized armour. Helmets strapped and secure, hurl in hand the lads were pumped for the clash. This was a legion ready for their first derby encounter facing the formidable Kilmacud Crokes in a no holes barred, epic, hurling show down.
The scene in Stepaside was reminiscent of roman centurions battling in a Roman Colosseum 😉 …. imagine 21 or so ….. smaller Russell Crowes with less facial hair and a propensity to fall over randomly, wielding hurls maniacally as they clashed with their GAA brethren…. now imagine that amped up with not 10 but 11 cans of Redbull and super loud heavy metal music playing at full volume in your headphones …. even at that, to be honest…. even at that, I cant really be sure that expresses the intensity of the occasion satisfactorily?
So, at around 10.55am refs signaled throw in time was approaching, the air crackled with anticipation, parents fidgeted and jittered as if being jolted by an occasional atmospheric static discharge such was the emotion and energy being generated within the battle crucible. The final instructions issued, fist pumps a plenty, each of the three phalanx marched for engagement on their respective battle grounds.
Within seconds of throw-in it was evident to almost every primary sense, those being sound, sight and smell, that this would be nothing short of carnage. The blustering gusts that blew intermittently were punctuated by the echoing sounds of clashing ash as parents winced anxiously on the sidelines with each bone rattling strike. All in attendance observed arms, legs, nay bodies flailing across the expanse of the battle field, and the smell of deep heat that carried on the breeze reminded all that wounds be endured in the knowledge that remedies would be administered once the dust had settled, this was all out war.
So on to the blood and guts action blow by blow. What became very evident early on was the improved positional sense of the boys, this was much improved on previous weeks as we thankfully continued the departure from the heat conserving tactics of Arctic penguins. Broadly speaking each Centurion maintained his station admirably, shadowed his mark, moving with the ebb and flow of defence and attack within the bandwidth of his allotted position, good work lads. It was very satisfying also to see some on field generals emerge to marshal field proceedings, plugging defensive gaps and gesturing for flanking positions as they readied the next assault on the enemies position. Charlie Delaney most certainly has leadership in his future, if not, a starring role as “Maximus Decimus Meridius” in the next Gladiator reboot is nailed on.
Defending is becoming a forte for some of our lads with blocking skills certainly improving as a result of the weekly drills being pressed home by our coaches. We saw some unbelievable graft from Evan, Luke and Charlie Coyne who emerged from his winter hibernation like status to become an unbelievable powerhouse of striking and defense for the full duration of the battle, “none shall pass”, just epic. Oscar’s tireless defending and determination to continue despite sustaining a hacking strike to the shin was also admirable and served to inspire those around him. Quality goalkeeping from Tom M, Jonathon and Dillon presented a sturdy last line of defense when we lost defensive integrity, we witnessed a brilliant goal line save at one point from Dillion to stop a certain Crokes goal thus keeping us in contention; he was like an injured lone soldier preventing a line breach as his comrades fell slain around him, no question Zeus himself was pleased as the drama unfolded ‘neath the heavy skies.
In attack Patrick’s end-to-end stamina, despite having Calpol on board to fend off a cold ( don’t think we submitted a TUE on that one) was again an inspiring sight, “some engine on that lad” was the ditch-side wisdom. Alex K’s perfect striking was a massive asset to his team, repeatedly clearing the sliotar up to our forwards providing the required service to his comrades to hit home to keep us above and beyond competitive at times. For the second week running we had Beoan hit the score sheet as even the fog of war couldn’t deny him, a combination of “right place right time’ and a skillful deflection whilst falling over saw the ball netward…. they all count, in is in 😉
After nine grueling tests of the Stepaside campaign we had some wins, we had some loses and our first drawn game too. On balance we saw a hugely competitive set of engagements, every ball contested, every strike full blooded, its was fast, it was furious, its was agonising and electrifying all at once ….. as the battlefield fell silent and the survivors faced homeward I swear I heard the General’s famous words …. “ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?”….. yes General, yes we are….. Onwards to face Ranelagh Gaels Sat 4th, plenty of practice at home everyone.