In for the long haul

November 30, 2005
For so long Naomh Moninne were the kingpins of Louth hurling. The famous Dundalk club dominated the Wee County championship and provided countless players for the county over the years. By Eunan Whyte. Their success at producing players has resulted in them help give rise to the Pearse Og and Knockbridge clubs. However, they are presently going through a barren spell and although success at senior level evaded them once more, they are fighting back and with a strong underage set up, they are hoping to make it back to the top over the coming years. The 2005 season was very disappointing for the club given the high standards they have set for themselves. After reaching the championship final in 2004, they made little impact in either Louth league or championship and their only successes at adult level came in the Armagh League. Club PRO, Maurice Murphy, recognises that it hasn't been the best year for the club but he is confident that they will be back competing for the top prizes in the near future. "We are going through a bit of a transition period at the moment. This year hasn't been the best for us as we lost a number of key players, but the one positive thing is that we have a very vibrant underage section. We are confident that many of those players will come through to play at adult level and we will get back to winning ways." After reaching the senior final in 2004, only to lose to Dundalk rivals, Pearse Og, Moninne began the year hoping to build on that achievement, but from the outset things began to go against them. After guiding the club to the senior championship final in 2004, Kieran Somers decided to step down this year. The appearance in the final was the club's first since last lifting the trophy in 1999 but it just didn't go their way on the day. "It was a great disappointment for us that Pearse Og came out on top as I believe that if we had won that day it would have given the club a great lift. I felt we could have gone on from there with an appearance in the Leinster Club Championship and had another go this year. However, it didn't work out that way and rather than being the start of something good, things began to slide from then," explained the PRO. In the absence of a manager, the early part of the year saw Brian Brady and John Murphy look after team selection before former player, Jim McGuinness took over as manager ahead of the championship. Due to the redevelopment of the clubroom at St Brigid's Park, Naomh Moninne were also away from their Dowdallshill base for the year, and were grateful to the Marist for allowing them use their facilities. The season began with the Armagh League where the Dundalk side were competing in Division 2 and it proved to be their most successful period of the season. "We only won four games at senior level and all came in the Armagh League. We defeated Lisnaskea, Lurgan, Portadown and Camlough although we lost our other four matches in the competition which was played between March and July," revealed Maurice. Jim McGuinness then took over as the club and stepped up preparations for the championship, but, as Maurice explains, the absence of a number of key players meant they were facing an uphill battle from the start. "We were without some influential players such a Padraig Fallon who didn't play this season, while Barry Murphy was unavailable due to study commitments. Diarmuid Murphy was also unavailable for most of the campaign, while the third of the Murphys, Padraig who won the Supporters Club Player of the Year award, is suffering from a long term injury and didn't play any part either. The experienced Joe Kennedy was another who didn't feature on a regular basis. "Any team would be affected by losing so many key players, but it makes it even more difficult when you are working off a small squad." As a result, it was a relatively inexperienced side that began the senior championship campaign against Drogheda side, Wolfe Tones. In what was probably the youngest Naomh Moninne side to begin a championship game, there were four minor players in the starting 15. Although the young lads battled bravely, the experience of Wolfe Tones told in the opening half as the Drogheda men took a big lead into the break. The introduction of Joe Kennedy and David Devaney helped turn things around but the team were unable to complete the comeback and Tones held out for a 2-8 to 1-9 victory. In such a tight championship format, that defeat made left Moninne facing an uphill task for the rest of the season. "In a three-game championship group it is very difficult when you lose your first game so it was never going to be easy after that. If we had managed to come out on top against the Tones it might have made all the difference. Victory would have given us something to play for and it could have lifted everyone for the rest of the season," said Maurice. The chance of qualification was lost when Moninne lost to Pearse Og in the next game, and in the last outing when they had nothing to play for, Knockbridge scored a very comfortable win. An indication of the lack of experience within the team was the fact that only one player, Declan Byrne, represented the club on the Louth team that started the Nicky Rackard Cup final in Croke Park. Ger Collins and Padraig Mulholland were other two players in the panel. There was little success in the senior league, where the club have lost both games played up to November. In the junior league, their fortunes were summed up when they lost the opening game to St Fechins, with their only win in the competition coming against Mattock Rangers. Despite enduring what has been a difficult year, Maurice says the club are determined to focus on the positive and work to recapture the glory days. Achieving that goal will be dependent on the success of a thriving underage set-up. "Nobody in this club is going to be negative because we have a good juvenile structure and some promising minors coming through into the senior ranks. "This positive thing for us this year has been the progress made at underage level as we have over 100 players attending coaching sessions in the Marist every Saturday during the summer. "Paul Drumm and John Murphy have put in a lot of work coaching the young players along with Youth Officer, Seamus Cahill and they have been making progress at all levels from U8 upwards. "The only disappointing thing is that there haven't been regular games for the teams and it is a sad situation that by the middle of November none of the underage competitions had been completed. "We are confident that Naomh Moninne will be back as a force in Louth hurling and if the young players can continue to learn and maybe if we can get some of the more experienced men back, we can make an impression next year." The club would like to thank the Marist for the use of their facilities throughout the year. NAOMH MONINNE HURLING CLUB JUVENILE ACTIVITIES 2005 2005 was once again a busy year on the field with the club taking part in competitions from under 8 up to minor level. With the completion of the 2004 Minor Championship held over until the start of the year it was at this level that Moninne were first into action in March when when they took on St Fechins in the semi final of that competition at Monasterboice. A good performance on the day saw the boys qualify to meet Dundalk rivals Pearse Og in the final with a 2-5 to 0-7 victory. Moninne scorers were Joe McAreavy (1-1), Stephen Ryan (1-0), Darren O Hanrahan (0-2), Paddy Taffee (0-1), Robbie Mulligan (0-1). Unfortunately in the final itself played at the Ramparts on Sunday March 13 they came up against a strong Pearse Og side who were able to call upon several players who had helped the club to capture the 2004 Senior Hurling Championship a few months earlier. The final score of 3-12 to 0-3 did not do justice to the gallant performance put in by the Moninne side on the day. Naomh Moninne Team: James Connolly, Jun Wye Lam, Stephen Rafferty, Thomas Cooney, Kevin Shields, Eugene Litchfield, Andrew McGee, Darren O'Hanrahan (0-2), Christopher Lennon, Joe McAreavy, Stephen Ryan, Andrew Mackin, Robbie Mulligan (0-1), Paddy Taffee, Seamus Drumm. With the 2004 Championship now decided it was not long before the club were in action again this time in the opening round of the 2005 Championship on Thursday March 31. To date Moninne have played four matches and they followed up an opening round victory over St Fechins with a narrow defeat to Collon 1-1 to 0-2, a draw with Pearse Og 3-4 to 1-10 and a second draw, this time with Knockbridge 4-3 to 3-6. At the time of writing Moninne are awaiting to find out their opponents in this years Semi Final. Naomh Moninne Panel 2005: James Connolly, Jason McConville, Thomas Cooney, Kevin Shields, Andrew McGee, Donal Rafferty, Barry Gray, Andrew Mackin, Chris Lennon, Gary Coyle, Stephen Ryan, Robbie Mulligan, Niall Taffee, Darren O Hanrahan, Sean Reilly, Jun Wye Lam, Bernard McConnon, Sean McCoy, Dean Carolan, Oisin Drumm. At Under 16 level the club did not fare as well losing four of their group matches in the Under 16 Championship. Results: Naomh Moninne 2-4 Knockbridge 2-5; St Vincents 3-2 Naomh Moninne 2-5; St Fechins 7-12 Naomh Moninne 0-1; Naomh Moninne 1-5 Collon 3-6; Naomh Moninne 7-7 Wolfe Tones 2-1; Pearse Og 6-6 Naomh Moninne 3-4. Naomh Moninne Under 16 Panel 2005: Thomas Cooney, Vilnius, Craig Morgan, Chris Heeney, Sean Reilly, Sean Fitzpatrick, Robbie Mulligan, Niall Taffee, Andrew Mackin, Dean Carolan, Bernard McConnon, Sean Newberry, Oisin Drumm, Richard Shaw, Sean McCoy, Ronan Geoghan, Donal Rafferty, Ryan McKeown, Niall McConnon, Daniel Begley, Jason Moore. In the Quarter Final of the 2005 under 14 Feile na nGael Hurling Championship Moninne were drawn against Wolfe Tones of Drogheda and it was the Tones who progressed to the next round with a 3-3 to 0-3 victory at the Marist Grounds on Thursday April 28. The same two sides met in the opening round of the under 14 League but once again the Drogheda boys came out on top with an 8-3 to 2-2 victory. Further defeats followed to Collon 6-4 to 2-4 as well as to St Fechins in Rounds Two and Three. Naomh Moninne Under 14 Panel 2005: David Yore, Donal Griffin, Chris Heeney, Conor McBride, Jason Moore, Craig Morgan, Lauren Matthews, Oisin Drumm, Ronan Geoghan, Michael Crawley, Ryan McKeown, Brendan Coleman, Orla O Hagan, Christine McKenna, Roisin Smith, Conor McGeown, Daniel Begley, Jake Skerrit, Aine Stanley, Liam Blundell, James Morrissey, Rachel Curran, Barry McConnon, Niall McConnon, Neil Murphy, Jamie Kerr, Stephen Gilliland, Emmet Cooney, Grace Heffernan, Conor Donegan, Lynn Carr. Activities at under 12, 10 and 8 level were confined to blitzs and challenge matches with the clubs under 12 team making a trip to Kilkenny on Saturday May 14, which involved an overnight stay and games against St Lachtains of Freshford, the home club of Moninne Youth Officer Seamus Cahill. They also took part in a GO HURLING blitz at Termonfechin on Saturday August 27. The clubs under 10 outfit took part in a blitz organised by Armagh club Keady on Saturday September 3 while they also travelled along with the under 8 team to take on Kiltale in County Meath in matches at both levels on Saturday October 15. The club took a large group of children to Croke Park on Sunday August 21 to support the Louth senior hurling team against London in the final of the Nicky Rackard Tier Three Hurling Championship which acted as a curtainraiser to All-Ireland Senior Hurling semi Final between Galway and Kilkenny, with a great day being had by all involved. Organised coaching for all levels from under 5 up to under 14 which included both boys and girls was held every Saturday afternoon at the Marist Grounds in Dundalk between the months of March and October and the club's Committee would like to express its gratitude to Mr Con McGinley, Headmaster of the Marist College and their Board of Management for the continued use of their grounds for both training and matches.

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