A record 25 teams will honour Paulo's memory at the AG hurling blitz

A record 25 teams will honour Paulo's memory at the AG hurling blitz
Picture: Jim Coughlan.

THEY love their hurling in Gaelcholáiste Mhuire AG, which is why the Paul O’Connor Memorial Blitz is taken so seriously in the northside school.

Liam Shorten, a classy attacker for Béál Áthan Ghaorthaidh who previously lined out for the Rebels, has a grá for the small-ball game that’s more than matched by principal Donal Ó Búachalla. Along with the late Paul’s family, including his nephew and namesake Paul O’Connor, and the Na Piarsaigh club, his memory lives on every year in a festival of camán.

Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Picture: Eddie O'Hare

There will be a record 25 teams from 17 schools in the AG this Friday, where 300 fourth and fifth class primary school pupils will hurl their hearts out, just like O’Connor did whenever he pulled on a geansaí for Na Piarsaigh, the Mon, Cork or UCC.

Tadhg Coakley, the author of the superb The First Sunday in September and who hurled with Cork underage, was an old team-mate of O’Connor in UCC. He wrote beautifully about him recently.

“We lost Paul, but we didn’t, either, and we never will. As long as there are beaming young men and women wearing skull and crossbones jerseys with shining cups held high.

“As long as UCC defends its titles and wise heads come together to plan the next campaign.

“As long as new hurlers appear to Autumn college training to test themselves against the best players they have ever faced. As long as old hurlers remember the time when they were young and how oddly wonderful that was.” 

Cian O'Connor, Gaelscoil Uí Riordáin. Picture: Jim Coughlan.
Cian O'Connor, Gaelscoil Uí Riordáin. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

The two pitches at the top of the Gaelcholáiste will be buzzing in two days, with six groups to cater for the huge interest in the blitz, which was first staged in 2014. 

Last year Mark Coleman and Damien Cahalane headed in to present the medals, while Leaving Cert pupil and Cork U20 ace Daire Connery helped out with the refereeing.

Seán Óg Ó hAilpín is a long-term supporter of the event, which is hugely enjoyable because of the short and snappy games in a frantic seven-a-side format.

Gaelscoil Uí Ríordáin and Whitechurch were successful in the A tier in recent tournaments, while Scoil Oilibheár and Riverstown will be formidable contenders this time out.

Whitechurch at the blitz.
Whitechurch at the blitz.

Paul O’Connor was a terrific hurler and coach until his untimely passing.

His record in the Fitzgibbon Cup with UCC as both a dynamic midfielder and astute coach is unrivalled.

He hurled for the College in five Fitzgibbon finals in a row, as captain in ’86, having graduated from the North Mon with a Harty medal in 1980, and was involved in another five victories for UCC from the sideline.

Paul was a county champion in 1990 and 1995 with Piarsaighs, and Man of the Match in the latter decider, and he was also involved with the club in the SHC win in 2004.

Paul O'Connor in 2004. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Paul O'Connor in 2004. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

More in this section

Sponsored Content