On Saturday last Rathdowney-Errill and Clough-Ballacolla U-21 hurlers made light of the bad weather and a heavy pitch to play out a thrilling draw.
The U-21 grade always gets the bad time of the year for their games – in hurling and football – and back in 2003 it was no different when Ballinakill and Rathdowney met in hurling final on November 8 in O’Moore Park.
It was the second year in a row that the sides met in the final, Ballinakill winning 0-11 to 0-10 to 2002 – and then coming back to win 1-12 to 1-5 in 2003.
Indeed Ballinakill came back the following year to reach the final again – but on this occasion, Clough-Ballacolla denied them the three-in-a-row. On that occasion the final was played on St Patrick’s day.
The 2003 final, however, featured a number of players who would go on to represent club and county at senior level for many years. Eamon Jackman, Seamus Dwyer, James Walsh and Damien Carter from Ballinakill all went on to play with Laois.
From Rathdowney, Brian Campion, Alan Delaney, Joe Fitzpatrick, Shane Dollard and Owen Houlihan all pulled on the blue and white too.
Many of the Rathdowney players also went on to win a number of senior championship medals under the Rathdowney-Errill name but despite the double U-21 success, Ballinakill never got over the line.
Jeff Harvey’s photos from that game will no doubt bring memories back for those involved.
For the record, the teams were:
BALLINAKILL: Colm Barry, Enda Walsh, Pat Dwyer, Brian Walsh, Michael Malone, James Walsh, Ronan Keoghane, Damien Carter, Eamon Jackman, John Walsh, Seamus Dwyer, David Phelan, William Barry, Liam Walsh, Donal Delaney, Eamon Lambert, Declan Hanrahan, Eddie Dwyer, Conor Delaney, Michael Jackman
RATHDOWNEY: Brian Campion, David Guilfoyle, Joe Daly, John Delaney, Gregory Phelan, Paddy Murphy, Alan Delaney, Brian Phelan, Joe Fitzpatrick, Brian Bowe, Shane Dollard, Peter Gray, Eamonn Whelan, Tom Drennan, Jason Phelan, Mark Dunne, Owen Houlihan, John Whelan, Chris Ryan, Willie Delaney, Joe Daly, Brian Dowling, Stephen Mahon
REFEREE: John Carroll (Mountrath)
SEE ALSO – All square in U-21 hurling final thriller