'A few years ago there were more at Ultimate Frisbee than hurling training, but the buzz is back in the school now'

'A few years ago there were more at Ultimate Frisbee than hurling training, but the buzz is back in the school now'
Ballincollig schools coach Johnny Dwyer talks to the BCS players in the dressing room.

BALLINCOLLIG Community School has produced its fair share of talented hurlers over the years.

Former Cork All-Star Seán McCarthy travelled from Ballinhassig to attend what was then a new school in the early ’80s, while Bishopstown club man and former Cork captain Patrick Cronin, who grew up in Ballincollig, was a more recent graduate. Current Cork U21 coach Johnny Dwyer was a pupil when he was an All-Ireland minor winner in 1995.

In the modern era though, BCS had fallen off the maps in terms of hurling. Naturally talent in the mid-Cork town is divided with Coláiste Choilm down the road, but the Ballincollig, Éire Óg and Inniscarra clubs still supply wristy young guns to the Community School.

They’ve put a concerted effort into hurling over the past four years and after some tough campaigns and plenty of harrowing defeats, their U16 and a 1/2 team head down to Cappoquin on Wednesday at 12.30pm for a Munster final against Scoil Ruain from Killenaule.

The Ballincollig Community School team that play in the Munster final this Wednesday, along with teachers Ciarán O'Sullivan (left) and Liam Jennings (right).
The Ballincollig Community School team that play in the Munster final this Wednesday, along with teachers Ciarán O'Sullivan (left) and Liam Jennings (right).

For teachers Liam Jennings and Ciarán O’Sullivan, both well-known members of the Ballincollig football team that landed the 2014 SFC, and schools coach Johnny Dwyer, battling for the Corn an Dara Uí Dhonabháin title is proof of the progress made.

“The attitude and interest from the lads if fantastic,” explains Jennings. “When we started the big push a few years ago we had more at training for Ultimate Frisbee than hurling, now there’s a buzz about it again and the whole school is behind us.”

Ballincollig were Premier 2 U16 Hurling Champions this season and from that side Darragh Dorgan, Chris Twomey, Stephen Wills, Josh Ambrose and Killian Lee are key players. So too Éire Óg’s Mark Kelleher, Cloughduv’s Stephen O’Donoghue, Inniscarra’s Stephen Linehan and Evan Lucey from Gleann na Laoi.

“We’ve a good culture going now. Ivan O’Mahony, who is gone from the school now, got things moving again and Johnny has done unreal work as schools coach. The lads never miss a session, they’re great friends and it shows on the field.”

O'Sullivan previously taught in Hospital, with the Limerick school succeeding at this grade in 2014 when it was called the Corn Iognáid Rís.

Killenaule are the holders, so can call on some of that experience in the clash with BCS, with Cork schools St Colman's from Midleton and Mitchelstown CBS were victors the two seasons before that.

"We wouldn't have seen anything like this five years ago," said Jennings, "but now we'll have a couple of buses going down from the school to support us and that has to be good for hurling going forward. We wouldn't have the numbers to compete really at U14, and we're lucky that a few of these lads are on the 'half-age', but look we were out of Munster 10 years ago, so whatever happens on Wednesday we can be proud."

The hurlers in Ballincollig Community School can use the school's all-weather pitch for winter training sessions.
The hurlers in Ballincollig Community School can use the school's all-weather pitch for winter training sessions.

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