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The Rock of Cashel’s hurling legacy

THE U-21 grade, introduced in 1964, is one of the most attractive competitions in hurling. This championship has proved to be a solid bridge from minor to senior. The first two championships, in 1964 and 1965, were contested by Wexford and Tipperary, with honours even.
Clare has consistently performed well, but had to wait until 2009 before Ciarán O’Doherty became the first Clare man to raise aloft the magnificent Cross of Cashel. Since then, the county has enjoyed unprecedented success, with Conor McGrath, Paul Flanagan and Tony Kelly, all leading Clare to victory.

 Among the greatest Clare U-21 teams that were unlucky not to win the championship were the 1974 and 2008 teams. The 1972 Clare team ended the dominance of Cork. Clare again defeated Cork and then Tipperary in 1974, but lost a low scoring Munster final to Waterford. This Clare U-21 team is pictured at the Gaelic Grounds, Limerick on July 14, 1976.  After a great hour’s hurling, Cork triumphed with a late goal, 2-11 to 3-6. Back, from left:  Pat O’Connor (Tubber), Liam Corr, Con McGuinness, Brian Madden, Patsy Hehir, Peter Golden, Jimmy Kelly, Brendan Gilligan. Front: Noel McGuane, Declan Coote, Gerry O’Connor (Kilmaley), Donie Quinn, Tommy Keane, Ger Daly and Donal Hassett.     John Callinan is missing from the photograph.  The Clarecastle man played for five years at U-21 level, from 1972-1976 inclusive.
Among the greatest Clare U-21 teams that were unlucky not to win the championship were the 1974 and 2008 teams. The 1972 Clare team ended the dominance of Cork. Clare again defeated Cork and then Tipperary in 1974, but lost a low scoring Munster final to Waterford. This Clare U-21 team is pictured at the Gaelic Grounds, Limerick on July 14, 1976. After a great hour’s hurling, Cork triumphed with a late goal, 2-11 to 3-6. Back, from left: Pat O’Connor (Tubber), Liam Corr, Con McGuinness, Brian Madden, Patsy Hehir, Peter Golden, Jimmy Kelly, Brendan Gilligan. Front: Noel McGuane, Declan Coote, Gerry O’Connor (Kilmaley), Donie Quinn, Tommy Keane, Ger Daly and Donal Hassett.
John Callinan is missing from the photograph. The Clarecastle man played for five years at U-21 level, from 1972-1976 inclusive.

The Cross of Cashel shines a light on all 51 All-Ireland U-21 finals, conjuring up the great names who made this grade special. From a Clare perspective, there is a lot to be taken from this book, with Clare teams and captains photographed in colour. It also includes team-sheets, scoring records and there is a synopsis of each All-Ireland final since 1964. The foreword is by John Costigan, a former Tipperary full-back of note. Author Jim Fogarty has done a splendid job on The Cross of Cashel.

By Ollie Byrnes

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