Community Games Double Gold
In late June Castlebar Girls Rounders teams started of their Community Games competition. In the Mayo’s the U13 Girls had a convincing win over an inexperienced Ballinrobe team while the U15 Girls had a tougher competition against close neighbours Breaffy. Both teams emerged victorious and progressed to the Connaught finals which were held in the Mervue GAA pitch in Galway on the 17th July.
Due to a lack of competition in the Connaught region the U13 team had a by into the final against Bunnanadden, Sligo. Katie Tynan showed her experience with quick and accurate throws to 1st and 2nd base and an excellent home-run. Alison McHugh and Sarah Groonell’s fielding and batting led to a comprehensive win.
On the same day the U15 Girls played Bunnanadden in the semi-final. They proved no challenge to the more experienced Castlebar team with Ciara Groonell leading the way. Castlebar played Tulsk, Roscommon, in the final. This proved to be a much closer encounter with Castlebar winning by 5 runs.
Castlebar marched on to represent their province in the ESB Community Games finals held in Mosney. In Mosney, the Castlebar U13 Girls met last year’s finalist Carrigtwohill, Cork in the semi-final. This was a nail-biting match with newcomer Lisa Gilligan proving to be no walkover. Lisa made four superb catches. This was aided by excellent bowling by Aoife Ryan. Experienced veteran Liane Smyth controlled the outfield with impressive fielding and batting. Castlebar the reigning All-Ireland champions scored a massive nine runs in the first inning to Carrigtwohill’s no score. Weak batting in the next few innings allowed Cork to come back into the match. However, Castlebar showed great resolve and determination to secure a passage to the All-Ireland final.
Due to the predictions of rain and gales, the U13 final was rescheduled to 6.30 that evening. After an exhausting semi-final, Castlebar tried to repeat the high standard that they played in the semi final. This rescheduling could have proven costly as Castlebar showed signs of fatigue towards the end of the game. Castlebar got off to a flying start with excellent batting from Aisling Walsh, Aoife Durcan and Rebecca Conlon. Three consecutive outs from play in the following innings by Michelle Hopkins, Aisling Walsh and Lisa Gilligan gave Castlebar a commanding lead. Wexford showed why they were Lenister champions as they seized on the fatigue that started to show in Castlebar by batting well. Sally Maughan stirred on the team with an excellent catch low at her feet to lift the team and to get them back in the game. Liane Smyth fielded a huge hit from Wexford star Kelly Delaney passed 2nd base. Liane turned on her heels and sprinted after the ball and threw a great ball to Katie Tynan waiting on 2nd base to make the out. This combination proved to be successful again with the roles reversed for the last out of the match. Final score 7-6 with a batting in hand.
The match of the tournament took place in the semi-final between reigning All-Ireland champions Ardfert/Kilmoyley from Kerry. Castlebar were thought to be the underdogs but shook this title from the moment they came up to bat. The flare headed terrier Emma Flannelly seemed too much for the Kerry bowler as Emma walked herself easy to 1st base. Michelle Newcombe (Cpt) rattled the other team with a massive outfield hit that a senior women’s team would have been proud of. The very competitive Castlebar not only wanted to overpower the aggressive Kerry side they wanted to follow in the footsteps of their captain. This set the momentum for the Castlebar Girls and they took no prisoners. Castlebar stunned the Kerry supporters with a very impressive seven home in the 1st inning to Kerry’s 0.
Things only got better when Tressan Maughan came up to bat in the second inning bringing all the base runners home with a magnificent home run. Kerry, a team not use to playing catch up succumbed to barging into players and doing anything possible to gain a base. This lead to a highly charged atmosphere around the pitch. Fionnuala Quinn held testament to this after she was knocked to the ground by single handedly making two outs in the 3rd inning and playing a vital role with the sure-handed Juliet Connaughton on 1st base to make the third out. Mikeala Foy encouraged her team from the side-line with wonderful cheers.
Kerry showed strength in their batting but this was no challenge for the fantastic outfield catching of Claire Ryder and Kathryn Sullivan who made numerous catches. Olivia Tolster took on the best of the Kerry batters by out-witting them with clever bowling. Castlebar’s player of the year, Orla Conlon, proved to be ‘Man of the Match’ in this game. On 2nd base she proved to be the main obstacle for Kerry once they passed Olivia Tolster. Her grit and determination succeeded in halting the Kerry team. Awesome batting by Orla, a right handed batter, down first base line on numerous occasions helped notch up the score for Castlebar. Final score 18-13 with one batting in hand. A match that will always be remembered in rounders history.
Spirits high after a spectacular semi-final, Castlebar went into this game with their eye on gold. From the start it was obvious that Castlebar had the upper hand. This was re-enforced by excellent fielding by Ciara Groonell and Emer Dolan. A comprehensive win of 15-5 finished the season.
Orla Conlon was the first recipient ever of the Castlebar Rounders Club, Player of the Year Award. Her skill and talent on 2nd base/outfield had a major influence in keeping Castlebar in this Year double All-Ireland achievement. A general all rounder who could tackle competently any position she was put in on the field and is quite gifted in the crucial skills required from a rounders player. What singles her out from the rest is however, her competitive edge, her drive not to be beaten. When the chips are down she always there pushing herself and motivating others to overcome the challenge. She is a talented young player who will be a huge loss to the under 15 panel but a great gain for minor level.
Many thanks to our main sponsor Oliver Kelleher and to the kind donations of the Castlebar public. Thanks to the supporters who travelled to our matches especially Carmel and Michael Connaughton. Thanks also to Jerry and Julie Tolster, Shane and Pauline Rodgers who organized the welcome home party.
U13 Team – Aoife Ryan, Michelle Hopkins(Cpt), Aisling Walsh, Liane Smyth, Sally Maughan, Katie Tynan, Rebecca Conlon, Lisa Gilligan, Aoife Durcan, Ailson McHugh, Sarah Groonell and Emma Cunninghan
U15 Team – Olivia Tolster, Fionnuala Quinn, Juliet Connaughton, Orla Conlon, Tressan Maughan, Emma Flannelly, Kathryn Sullivan, Michelle Newcombe(Cpt), Claire Ryder, Ciara Groonell, Emer Dolan and Mikeala Foy
Managers – Helen Lydon, Brianne Moran, Kathryn O’Boyle, Eleanor O’Boyle and Grainne Cashin