Birr to the fore as Offaly U17 hurlers prepare for Celtic Challenge
Led by a backroom team of Paddy Guinan, Pat Temple, Declan Loughnane, Michael Cleary, Conor Clancy and Lynne Hutchinson, Offaly's U17 hurlers are primed for their opener in the Celtic Challenge tournament against neighbours Laois on Wednesday, May 2.
Offaly hurling has experienced a revival in recent months, not least because of the appointment of All-Ireland winner Kevin Martin as senior hurling boss. They shocked Dublin in the Allianz League and are now targeting big performances in the new Leinster Senior Hurling Championship.
As well as that, the feeling is that young players are coming through the anks, proven comprehensively by Colaiste Choilm's recent All-Ireland success, a win prompting their captain to say "the famine is over" when it comes to Offaly hurling.
That winning mentality is seeping through the grades at Offaly and this U17 set-up has assembled a strong team for this tournament despite the format barring players who are in their Leaving Cert year.
Birr is well represented with five players, including Padraic Watkins, Kevin Tierney and Niall Lyons. Coolderry and Tullamore are also well represented with four panel members each, including Cian Burke and Ciaran Egan.
11 clubs are represented in all with the likes of Ballinamere/Durrow, Ferbane/Belmont and Drumcullen fielding some of their considerable young talent.
Offaly will be hoping to come through their group in order to advance to the finals of the Celtic Challenge tournament set to take place in Bord na Mona O'Connor Park on June 30. 41 teams from all 32 counties will take part in the competition.
Offaly begin their charge for the title with a home clash against Laois in Birr on Wednesday evening, May 2, at 7.30pm.
The Offaly U17 Hurling Panel for the Celtic Challenge tournament:
Adam Fitzgerald (Biorra, Birr)
Dan Gleeson (Cill Chormaic/Cill Achaidh, Kilcormac/Killoughey)
Peter Cleary (Suí an Róin, Shinrone)
Liam Miller (Cul Doire, Coolderry)
Paddy Maher (CRC Gaels, CRC Gaels)
Kelan Rigney (Naomh Raghnach, St. Rynaghs)
Gearoid McCormack (Cul Doire, Coolderry)
Kevin Tierney (Biorra, Birr)
Eoin O’Connor (Tulach Mhor, Tullamore)
Eibheann Kelly (Lusmá, Lusmagh)
Aaron Kelly (Lusmá, Lusmagh)
Padraic Martin (Tulach Mhor, Tullamore)
Darragh Flynn (Féar Bán/Lios Dearg, Ferbane/Belmont)
Padraic Watkins (Biorra, Birr)
J.J. O’Brien (Suí an Róin, Shinrone)
Brendan Hutchinson (Biorra, Birr)
Ciaran Mannion (Féar Bán/Lios Dearg, Ferbane/Belmont)
Ciaran Egan (Tulach Mhor, Tullamore)
Michael Feeney (Tulach Mhor, Tullamore)
Niall Lyons (Biorra, Birr)
Jimmy Kavanagh (Cill Chormaic/Cill Achaidh, Kilcormac/Killoughey)
Mark Cahill (Féar Bán/Lios Dearg, Ferbane/Belmont)
Ronan Cleary (Baile Na Maor/Daru, Ballinamere/Durrow)
Luke Wyer (Baile Na Maor/Daru, Ballinamere/Durrow)
Aaron Teehan (Cul Doire, Coolderry)
Cian Burke (Cul Doire, Coolderry)
David Murray (Suí an Róin, Shinrone)
Dan Murray (Cill Chormaic/Cill Achaidh, Kilcormac/Killoughey)
Joe Ryan (CRC Gaels, CRC Gaels)
Mark Kennedy (Droim Cuilinn, Drumcullen)
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