GAA review of the year: Rebel Óg U16 championships packed with quality

We look back at the P1 and P2 hurling and football deciders
GAA review of the year: Rebel Óg U16 championships packed with quality

St Finbarr's John Barrett and St Michael's Robert Aherne tussle for the ball in the Rebel Óg U16 Premier 1 Football final at Páirc Uí Rinn. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

IF I had a euro for every time I was asked the ‘well what do you think?’ question during the year then I would be a rich man.

This generally was early in the first lockdown as mentors and players wondered would there be any games played this year, be it in GAA or lots of other sports.

The season was far from ideal but one of the successes were the U16 hurling and football championships.

There is still some discussion around other age groups and competitions held last season and next season. 

It’s always good to have healthy debate and the recent decision by the senior board to allow Rebel Óg run an U18 competition has been welcomed by all.

In the hurling championships, Midleton were crowned champions at U16 Premier 1 level, beating Bride Rovers in the final and Valley Rovers got the better Douglas in the decider at the P2 grade.

Bride started their group stages with a win over the Glen and finished it with a victory over Carrigtwohill.

Midleton started with a win over Carrigtwohill and finished it with a win over Glen Rovers. 

But in between those games, they met at Rathcormac and it proved to be a close tussle, with nothing between the two sides.The final score of 3-16 to 1-21 saw Midleton emerge winners by a single point.

 Adam Walsh, Bride Rovers, looking to break past Tadhg O’Leary Hayes, Midleton, during their U16 P1 Hurling final at Lisgoold. Picture: Dan Linehan
Adam Walsh, Bride Rovers, looking to break past Tadhg O’Leary Hayes, Midleton, during their U16 P1 Hurling final at Lisgoold. Picture: Dan Linehan

In the semi-finals Bride got the better of the Barrs and Midleton proved too strong for Ballincollig, two more great games that showed all that is good about underage hurling in Cork.

In the final, a superb display from centre-forward Michael Finn, who scored 0-11 of his side’s total - which included five from play - and a crucial late goal from corner-forward Darragh Fitzgerald was enough to earn Midleton the silverware on a final scoreline of 1-15 to 0-15.

 Midleton captains Brian O’Connell and Michael Finn receive the trophy from Rebel Óg chairman Michael O’Mahony. Picture Dan Linehan
Midleton captains Brian O’Connell and Michael Finn receive the trophy from Rebel Óg chairman Michael O’Mahony. Picture Dan Linehan

In the Premier 2 final Valley Rovers retained their title after a 1-15 to 1-10 win over Douglas.

Valleys had some outstanding performances from the likes of Adam Casey, Sean Kiely and Jonathan O’Leary, but their half-back line was key to their win.

They cleared ball after ball with all three, James O’Sullivan, Cian Johnson and Brian Lordan, on top of their game.

In the Premier 1 football final St Finbarr’s were crowned champions after a hard-fought 1-16 to 2-10 win over St Michael’s.

Superb scoring displays from Shay Fenton, who scored their only goal, and William Buckley, who grabbed four points was enough to see the Barrs land the silverware.

St Finbarr's Conor Hegarty scores a point past St Michael's Mike O'Connell. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
St Finbarr's Conor Hegarty scores a point past St Michael's Mike O'Connell. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Special mention must also be made of Ben O’Connor who gave an outstanding display at midfield and along with several other members of the side went on to win the P1 minor hurling as well.

This encounter was in the balance right up to the final few minutes, but in those few minutes the Barrs outscored their opponents by four points to one and that was enough to see the cup heading to Togher this year.

In the Premier 2 final, Bantry Blues defeated Inniscarra by 3-13 to 2-8 in the final. But that only tells some of the story. They trailed by three points after 55 minutes but, inspired by star duo Darragh Kingston and Paddy Cronin, they produced a barnstorming performance in the closing stages to secure a deserved win.

With four different winners showed there is talent across the county at underage level and hopefully next year will see a repeat of the quality of these encounters.

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