The 2018 senior hurling season saw the senior team finish third in the All County League Division Two, securing our position as the top Non-Ards side in the division, and again fell at the Semi-Final hurdle in the Junior Championship with a loss to Newry Shamrocks. After some hard work by Damien McConville and Gerry O’Neill over the winter, an exciting management and backroom team was put in place for 2018. The team was managed jointly by Tom Daly (player manager) and Conor Tinnelly with a very hardworking backroom team that included Liam Boyle as support coach, Aileen McAteer and Amy Freer looking after logistics and first aid assistance throughout the season and Jerome McCrickard and Conan O’Neill as fitness coaches and finally Dermot Donnelly acting in the statistics and team PR roles. This year’s senior captain was dual player Anton Magill with John O’Kane as vice-captain.
The team started its pre-season work in February with a strength programme that was put together by Tom Daly and facilitated by Conan O’Neill. This was a good start to the year, and something that the team will look to build on, on an individual basis with the player group taking more responsibility for this item of preparation. This period also saw the team do indoor and outdoor fitness sessions and running with Jerome McCrickard of Liatroim who greatly improved our running technique and some useful tips on recovery and running for stamina.
The league season saw us with a 100% record until week 4 when the seniors were beaten away to Ballygalget by nine points having travelled minus 5 starters due to injuries and work commitments. This was a very competitive game and marked one of the high points of our performance level for the season.
In this early part of the season unfortunately saw we lost three key players as they took up work in other countries, Cathal McGivern, Mark Murtagh and Johnny O’Hare. The next week saw us lose at home to Ballycran by four points in a tight game, dampening our hopes of winning the league in 2018. There was however a good performance level maintained throughout the season, with big wins at Castlewellan, Ballyvarley and Bredagh. On Monday 13th August we played our last league fixture with panel members getting a chance to shine in preparation of the championship. Ballygalget claimed the League title on a score line of 2-16 to 1-24.
The Junior Championship took on a round robin format for the first time this year, with two groups of three
Group 1 – Warrenpoint, Clonduff, Castlewellan
Group 2 – Newry Shamrocks, Kilclief, Ballyvarley
Our first Championship game saw us defeated by Clonduff. Warrenpoint were in a good place at half time but unfortunately Clonduff out fought us and showed greater fitness in the second half. Castlewellan conceded their tie against Clonduff, preferring to play us in a one game play off for progression. This was a well-played game where the seniors pulled away in the final quarter, winning by eleven points in the end.
Championship run ended in Castlewellan with loss to Newry Shamrocks in a competitive match. This was a game well within our grasp, but the team hit too many wides throughout the game while nine frees from Shamrock’s Paul Sheehan made a telling contribution to the final score line.
In summary 2018 displayed an improvement in previous years but to achieve the targets of winning the Division 2 League or reaching a County Final, the team will need to follow on from 2018 and achieve continuous improvement. Conor and Tom would sincerely like to thank all the players, backroom team, hurling committee and club committee members for supporting the Senior Hurling Team in 2018.