Having won the under twelve County Championship in 1986 and '87 we in Turloughmore Bord na nOg were entitled to feel confident at the beginning of the year that 1988 might bring our first under fourteen championship since 1966 and entitle us to represent our County at Feile for the first time. Drawn in a group with three very strong teams our first game was to dispel any exaggerated notions we may have had about our true ability when Clarenbridge defeated us by eleven points. A hard earned draw in
the second round with Abbey - Duniry was followed by a good win over Oranmore - Maree. The replay with Abbey - Duniry was a powerful game and our good display there not only gained us a good victory but gave us the confidence to go on and defeat Mervue easily in the next round. In the Quarter Final Castlegar, as usual, provided stiff opposition and after a sluggish start a great goal by John Burke inspired the team to a good win.
When we were drawn against Clarenbridge in the Semi-Final the players were glad of the opportunity to atone for their defeat in the first round. The game, which was played in Kenny Park, on a beautiful May evening, was a classic packed with all that is good in juvenile hurling. The huge crowd were kept on the edges of their seats as fortunes ebbed and flowed until a powerful goal by full forward Diarmaid Moore broke the deadlock in the final quarter and when the final whistle sounded it was the black and white supporters who had most to cheer about as their team had won by eight points. Athenry beat Carnmore in the other Semi-Final so all looked forward eagerly to the Final on June 5th.
The huge crowd which gathered into Kenny Park expecting to see a thrilling final were not disappointed. Turloughmore started in splendid fashion, but when they didn’t convert their early superiority coasting to victory with five minutes to go. Then points from Alan Hurney and Cathal Moore left just three points between the teams with two minutes remaining. A last ditch attack yielded the all important goal when Captain Francis Forde struck powerfully to the net. The replay like so many others bore little resemblance to the first game as Turloughmore asserted their authority from the start and went on to win by nine points. The Club celebrations had to be curtailed to prepare for Féile. Harps—an amalgamation of the old teams of Durrow and Cullohill - were to be our hosts so contact was made with their Club secretary, Dan Deegan to prepare for our visit. The team trained diligently as the committee burned the midnight oil making the necessary preparations for the trip. We set out tor Portlaoise on Thursday, June 23rd, and fortified bya good picnic on the way we met our hosts in O’Moores Park at five o’clock. The short journey from there to Durrow took just an half an hour. After the usual address of welcome the players were introduced to their host families and before retiring for the night we made arrangements for the following day.
On the following morning, we met at ten o’clock and went on a sight seeing tour with the host team. We visited Dunmore Cave and Kilkenny Castle. We had an opportunity to study the Harps team and our first impressions were that they were big and strong and being champions of Laois they would provide stiff opposition. Our game against them was a tough dour struggle and we were happy to come away with afive point victory. We got the players to bed early as three hard games awaited them on Saturday.
Having already played on the Durrow pitch probably gave us a slight advantage going into the game against Nenagh, but the manner of our display and the margin of victory delighted all of us. It was truly a remarkable performance to so easily dispose of the group favourites. We waited to support Harps in their game, and when that game ended we had exactly one hour to be on the pitch in Rathdowney, twelve miles away. After a light snack we set off to play the home club in Rathdowney. By now the legs were getting weary and injuries were becoming all too common. We started slowly, but we finally defeated them and so won our group. We had two and a half hours to get back to base, have a bite to eat and treat our injuries before we set out for Borris-in-Qssory, twenty miles away, to play the SemiFinal against Bishopstown of Cork.
This was a rousing game of hurling that was evenly balanced throughout. The huge contingent of Turloughmore supporters and the host supporters from Harps cheered and screamed, cajoled and encouraged as the team went in search of the score that would take them into their first Final. It was not to be. Cork were delighted with their two point victory. We had failed to climb Everest, but we proved that a Galway Team could win Féile and I forecast that it will happen within the next few years.
It was after this game that the real spirit of Féile was captured. As the teams came off the field the supporters from Turloughmore and Harps came together and gave the players a tremendous reception. You could see the pride in their faces, feel their admiration, sense their silent disappointment. It was a time that made the many hours of training and preparation worth while. We returned to Durrow to prepare for the Parade in the morning.
by We were up early on Sunday to be greeted by the first rain in six weeks. We gathered our troops and set out for Mass in Birr, forty miles away. When we arrived we togged out, attended Mass and then marched behind the Artane Boys’ Band in a magnificent parade. We togged in, and had a bite to eat and then went back to watch the Finals. Wolfe Tones of Shannon defeated Bishopstown in the A Final but our loudest cheers were reserved fortre ladies in black and white - Pearses of Ballymacward - won a thrilling camogie Final. A tasty meal in Portumna on the way home was a fitting finale to a wonderful weekend.
When we arrived home the bonfires blazed and a huge crowd had gathered to welcome us. Senior Club chairman Jarlath mcDonagh who had come to wish us luck on Thursday was there again to welcome us home and he paid warm tributes to the team and all associated with them. It was hard to imagine that it had only been a weekend - it seemed like half a lifetime. Yes a trip to Féile is a very special experience, a wonderful weekend of hurling and fun. To the people of Durrow and Cullohill, to Miko Donoghue our pilot, to all who sponsored us and helped in every way, and to you great supporters we say a sincere go raibh mile maith agaibh go Iêir.
By Pat Moore