Limerick native Cian O'Connell nurturing a love of hurling in Beara

Beara Community School fielded teams at junior and senior level this season in Munster
Limerick native Cian O'Connell nurturing a love of hurling in Beara

The Beara Community School junior hurling team that played against Mean Scoil Rinn in a Munster championship game recently.

A Limerick man has helped to establish hurling in a Cork secondary school for the first time ever.

Cian O’Connell who hails from West Limerick is helping to spread the hurling gospel in the Beara division through his teaching role in the Beara Community School.

The Cork secondary school fielded a senior hurling team for the first time last year which proved a huge success. The formation of the senior team also helped to raise interest levels in hurling throughout the school.

Due to the growing demand from players, the school has now established a junior hurling team this year which ensures they are now fielding senior and junior hurling teams.

O'Connell is thrilled they are competing in both senior and junior school college grades this year.

“We fielded a senior hurling team last year. It was the first time in the school’s history to ever field a hurling team. We now have a senior and junior school hurling team competing in competitive competitions which is a great achievement,” he said.

Following only two weeks of hurling training, the Scoil Phobail Bheara junior hurling team commenced their hurling odyssey with a championship game against Waterford school team Mean Scoil Rinn in Charlie Hurley Park in Bandon.

Their proud hurling coach said he was pleased with the application shown by his players. 

“Our juniors played a strong Waterford school team. We had 28 players togged off for this game which was very pleasing. To be totally honest we had a bad first half. None of the players had ever played underage hurling. They had only started training two weeks before this game.

Our players showed great desire and application. It was an outstanding effort from all the players who had never played a game of hurling before. 

"They gave a great account of themselves against seasoned opponents. We scored 2-8 against a strong Waterford school team which was very good. 

"Some players took to the game very quickly and picked up the skills. It was very impressive. There is lots of potential there. We will continue to train hard and improve our skills. We have more games now in January,” he added.

The Beara Community School senior hurling team started their campaign against a strong Newcastle West school team who were coached by Limerick senior hurler Gearoid Hegarty. 

In the aftermath of the game, O'Connell said that Hegarty, who was named Man of the Match in the 2022 All-Ireland senior hurling final, was very complimentary towards his players. 

“The senior team had more training done ahead of this year’s campaign. We played a very strong Newcastle West team who had Gearoid Hegarty as their manager. We hurled well on the day. 

Gearoid Hegarty was very complimentary toward our team afterward which was very pleasing. He remarked on how tough and physical we were. 

"The senior team will be playing more games now in the new year. We will aim to keep improving. I have seen a big difference in the players since they started training at the start of the season,” said the hurling coach. 

“They have come on so much. They love playing hurling. The players are very enthusiastic, and they were delighted to take up playing hurling. They went away and bought helmets and hurleys at the start of this year. It is great to see their enthusiasm for the game.” 

CROSSOVER

The West Limerick native loves the game of hurling and was thrilled to introduce it to his pupils at Beara Community School. 

“I would be from a hurling background. This is my third year teaching in the school. 

"They live and breathe football here in Beara. There is hardly any soccer. There is no rugby. It is football or nothing. 

"It is always good to play a new sport and I wanted to bring hurling into the school. Introducing hurling to the school is also beneficial for the footballers as there is a great crossover with the football team and it helps with their conditioning.” 

A parish hurling league was also initiated in the Cork secondary school this year. This was established to help improve skill levels and to foster a ‘love’ for the game said the teacher. 

Ronan O'Sullivan from Urhan and Mikey Orpen from Bere Island who recently competed in the school parish hurling league.
Ronan O'Sullivan from Urhan and Mikey Orpen from Bere Island who recently competed in the school parish hurling league.

“Hurling is a hard sport to pick up at the age of 12 or 13. You need to be playing it from a young age, so we are playing catch up. We held a parish hurling league over six weeks in the school. It was a five-a-side tournament played indoors.

We divided the players into their respective parishes and they each had a hurling team. We are trying to raise the skill levels and try help the players develop a love for the game. 

"The final was played live on Bere Island Community Radio and the TY students were on commentary duty,” he said.

The hurling enthusiast paid tribute to his school for their help in getting hurling started in Beara CS. 

“It is great to bring the small ball to Beara. The players are enjoying it. I am very happy with how they are progressing. Another teacher Sean O’Leary gives me a hand. The school has been a big help. The girls are now playing camogie for the school which is very pleasing. We have players on the hurling team who would not have played any sport previously. It is great to get more people involved in sport.”

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