Hamstrings, groin strains, knee/shoulder/hip injuries – you got it, the ‘B Specials’ were in action. Now called Junior D, these players were our 3rd team last year but are now our 4th team. And as every good team has to have a manager, Louie decided he was up to the job. Having played 3 games and lost them all, we decided we should log the memories of an eventful championship.
Some trained regularly, some trained irregularly, some only trained hurling, some only trained underage teams. Some played practice matches with our 3rd team. But the best days were when we all played together – as the ‘B Specials.’
In our first outing, against neighbours Blackwater, Manager Louie brought a vast panel together. Players like Paddy ‘Shadow’ Kelly, Graham Malone, Myles Doyle, Willie Redmond, John Redmond, Craig Potter, John Kenny, Philip ‘Blindy’ Walsh, Darren and James Shiggins were all brought out of retirement. More was expected of our ‘regulars’ like Cathal O’Shaughnessy, Martin Nolan, John, Colm and Austin Hearne who had done ‘some’ winter training and some summer training on the beach – near the water edge (and even the odd BBQ). Blackwater were put to the pin of their collar – and some had to get pins in their collars! They were beaten in many sectors. But Richie Curran was their leading light; lining out at corner forward and moving more like Kieran Donaghy he popped over some early scores. However, the youthful Sean Walsh put a stop to his gallop and another minor Liam Donnelly controlled centre back and mid-field (usually at the same time). James Shiggins in goal was ‘dangerous’ to say the least, especially for full-back Tom Tynan and Blackwater full-forward Brian Curran, causing a couple of injuries from his cat-like saves. In mid-field Darren Shiggins was ‘almost’ back to his best, while in the forwards ‘Blindy,’ Cathal O’Shaughnessy , Graham Malone and ‘The Shadow’ led by example with ‘Blindy’ popping over a couple of scores. In the second half, the Shels Captain, John Hearne, who hadn’t passed the fitness test for the first half, was introduced. He was expected to dominate affairs with his ‘fresh legs.’ But his lack of winter training coupled with the loss of Cathal through injury meant that we lacked penetration. Martin Nolan was moved into centre-back to stem their attacks but Darren Shiggins had to be assisted from the field after the reoccurrence of an old knee injury. With James Shiggins now playing well at mid-field we were holding on 0-9 to 0-5 with only 10 minutes remaining – but then disaster struck. Brian Curran had been saving this trick ‘till near the end; an opportunistic over the shoulder kick was well placed into the top corner. He left the field happy with himself but Blackwater then rubbed salt in our wounds by scoring a second goal when replacement goalie was caught out of position.
Manager Louie wasn’t happy. He got a new goalie in Deckie Hearne (who turned up with the latest in goalie boots) and rallied his troops for the big game against everyone’s Championships favourites, St. Josephs. With Darren Shiggins injured and expected replacements also crying off with injuries; Eddie Doyle, hamstring (two) and John Nolan, eyestring (one) he tried the ‘Marathon Man’ Peadar Moron. But since Peadar had two eyes on 2012 he had to give it a miss. Louie was forced down the Inter-County transfer route. He conjured Ciaran Walsh from Laois and Mick Arthurs, an ex-senior from Dublin (one of ‘Pillars’ buddies). However, Ibar Murphy, manager of the 3rd team got wind of this and snapped up Ciaran to be the free-taker on the third team. Ibar also offered Tom Tynan promotion. Louie was furious but at least he still had Mick who had been training with the club irregularly since April. Mick was an inspiration, playing both at wing and corner forward. Scoring with both feet (not at same time) he reminded people of Jimmy Keaveney. The crowd went wild as they watched him. But this wasn’t enough to stop the Josephs who were running riot. Louie had Colm Hearne in defence and Paudie Quill on the bench. He started himself even though the players (and St. Josephs) protested. After 10 minutes he brought in fresh legs – Paudie was in and Louie was on the bench! Chris ‘Hopper’ McGrath assisted Louie in his management but they still couldn’t break down the strong St. Josephs challenge. With 25 minutes left it was all or nothing – Chris and Louie came up with an astute change to the line out of the team. The details of this change can’t be written about here but Louie was back on the field! With the ref confused and St. Josephs unaware of his presence, Louie ‘slipped’ into mid field and gave an inspiring performance which surely sees him in for the Player of the Year award, even passing out Myles Doyle. The Shels rallied and scored another point to leave the score at Shels 1-1 to St. Josephs (a lot!). After such a commanding display against the Shels 'B Specials’ St. Josephs were surely now the championship favourites.
In the third and final game the Shels were to face St. Martin’s, in Hollymount. Trying to win at any cost the Shels came up with a cunning plan – confuse them! They had their ‘B Specials’ training hurling on one field and their Senior Footballers training football on the other field. The Martins didn’t know what was going on especially when the Shels Seniors offered to play them. They went home!
But a week later they were back, this time determined to get a game. It was 5.15 on Sunday evening and with the younger Shels players heading back to college, the Shels were short ‘a few.’ With Louie away on referring duty, Ibar Murphy struck again. This time he had taken James Shiggins and Paudie Quill. Darren Shiggins was unavailable, John Redmond and ‘The Shadow’ were sick – the story went on. Chris McGrath had expressed an interest in playing but he was first played by Ibar on Saturday on the 3rd team and then on Sunday by Larry O’Shaughnessy on the 2nd team. The 4th team didn’t want him any more; he was gone too ‘big’ for his boots!
In Louie’s absence, John Hearne Senior took over as manager. He went to the 3rd team and got Brendan Larkin, David Kenny, Graham Lawler, Ibar Murphy (Newfort) and James Murphy. He put Barry Hearne in goal – an inspired move- and kept Tom Tynan as a sub – another inspired move. He marshalled the line like ‘Hitler’ and threatened Captain John that he’d take him off, even though he had no subs left at this stage. He had an all Hearne full-forward line of Austin, Colm and John, with John ‘almost’ playing as a third mid-fielder. When Deckie Hearne heard about the new Manager, he got hamstring and groin strains (2 of each). But the new Managers threats almost paid off. With Paddy and Ibar Murphy controlled the backs, Austin Hearne moving out to control mid-field, Myles Doyle controlling the air and John Hearne controlling the ‘low’ balls the Shels gave a spirited performance boosted by a great goal from captain John before the end. With darkness quickly closing in and the Shels craving for a victory, the ref blew full time 30 seconds early and finished any chance of a Shels comeback. The shels lost out narrowly by 2 points to a determined and game St, Martins team.
It was an enjoyable Championship for this team – unfortunately we kept forgetting to bring a camera to get a picture of them, just to prove that they really did play.
Maybe next year if Captain John could do a bit of ‘extra’ training he could partner Austin at mid-field. We also need regulars Donal Parker, Peadar Moran, John Nolan and Eddie Doyle back playing! And lastly, ‘Hitler’ and Louie will have to agree terms so that they can manage together on the same day.
The Panel for Championship 2008 was (all played!)
John Hearne (Capt)
Unavailable or injured