The currency of hurling in the east Mayo strongholds of Ballyhaunis and Tooreen will come to the fore again tomorrow, Saturday March 7 in Ballinasloe at 2pm, as Ballyhaunis Community School enter the uncharted waters of the All-Ireland Senior C Post Primary Schools Hurling semi final.
Just seven days after winning their first Connacht Schools Hurling title, they now face the might of Cistercian College Roscrea - who defeated Scoil Caitriona of Dublin in their respective Leinster final last weekend. Although based in County Tipperary, the Trappist all-boys boarding school plays in the Leinster Schools competitions due to their close proximity to the Offaly border.
Tradition will be against the Ballyhaunis CS side, but they have shown very little regard for that in their four outings in the Connacht Senior series. In the opening rounds they overcame St Enda’s (Galway city ), New Inn (Galway ), Ballygar (Galway ), before accounting for Woodford last Saturday in Athenry. The management team of Ray Woolley, Nick Freyne, Jonathan Griffin, and Davog Freyne will relish the opportunity of playing on the national stage and bringing their charges further along their road of development.
The Ballyhaunis CS team have shown great strength and depth in their path through the Connacht series so far. Their bench has been an important part of the panel, with players capable of entering the game and taking game changing opportunities. In all four games so far, players have come off the bench to record green flags - most notably in last week’s final when Dylan Niland hit the game winning goal after being introduced.
Also, versatility has been important to the side - again evident in last Saturday’s final. When regular goalkeeper Bobby Douglas was unable to play due to a facial injury during the week regular corner-forward Ryan Kilbane answered the call to line out between the posts. Playing in his first competitive match of the year in the nets, the Ballyhaunis clubman kept a clean sheet as well as showing great courage to block a late Woodford goalbound shot in stoppage time.