It was gold and silver lining to the busy season of the Castlebar Rounders Club as the U15 and U13 Girls took gold and silver respectively in the National Community Games in Mosney.
In late May, the Community Games U13 campaign started off. In the Mayo’s the U13’s girls has a comfortable win over Ballinrobe and Swinford. While the U15’s had a bye into the Connaught finals. In the Connaughts, the U13’s played Tulsk from Roscommon in the semi-final. Tulsk were a good team with a strong bowler and batters. However, Castlebar had the edge with excellent fielding. Newcomer Aislinn McGovern showed her skills with wonderful catching and throwing on third base, combining with a number of double plays with Sally Maughan on second to get Castlebar off to a good start. This was fallowed by excellent batting from Katie Kenny, Emily McHale and Sarah Groonell. Aislinn McGovern was the key player in this match. Her competitive spirit spurred on her team mates for a convincing win of 14-4.
In the final the U13’s met their old rivals Bunnanadden from Sligo. Bunnanadden although a small community always manage to field a very strong team. Due to the great win they had over Tulsk, Castlebar went into the match with heightened confidence and self belief. Consistent bowling from Katie Kenny resulted in Sarah Groonell (back catcher) receiving a lot of ball. With accurate throwing to first (Aisling Walsh) and third (Aislinn McGovern) base meant that Castlebar only let in two runs for the entire game. Although batting got off to a slow start excellent hitting from Niamh Donoghue and Leanne O’Connor brought six runs home between them. Sprightly Orla Cullan showed magnificent spirit by gathering all infield balls and throwing to the nearest base to achieve numerous outs. Ailbhe Sheridan stepped into the bowlers shoes for the final inning. She gave the opposition batters a torrid time with tremendous pitching and finished the game for Castlebar. Final score 23-2.
Castlebar U15’s as reigning all-Ireland champions played Bunnanadden in a nail-bighting final. Bunninadden were excellent all-round players and although only fielding eight players (as opposed to the regulation nine) caused Castlebar much heartache. Castlebar batted well out the field but Bunnanadden’s outfielders were outstanding and caught all high balls sent in their direction. This proved most unfortunate for Leanne Smyth and Olivia Tolster who copped out five times between them. Bunnanadden’s clinical fielding put paid to Castlebars overconfidence. All the Castlebar players struggled and did not seem to get into the game. Good fielding alone won this game for Castlebar. A special mention must be made to Michelle Hopkins who singularly showed fighting spirit and carried a sluggish Castlebar team to eventual victory. Juliet Connaughton also contributed to this victory with two fantastic catches of high spinning balls. A relieved Castlebar team won with final score of 9-5.
In the four weeks prior to Mosney both Castlebar U13 and U15 teams were put through their paces by managers Grainne Cashin, Helen Lydon, Eleanor O’Boyle, Brianne Moran and Kathryn O’Boyle. The day of the semi-final started a bright and shiny day. The U13 team were drawn against Cavan in the semi-final. Castlebar had met this team in the GAA Féile competition and had beaten them well. Cavan were a well improved team from the previous meeting and had a very good bowler. It took a while for Castlebar to settle into this match. Excellent fielding again by the duo of Aislinn McGovern and Sally Maughan (Cpt) proved to be an obstacle to the Cavan side. Niamh O’Donoghue quick fielding and throwing to Sally on second base lead to a substantial number of Cavan players exiting the pitch. The extremely talented Aisling Walsh hit a magnificent home run, her second of the season. This brought three home for Castlebar. The speed and agility of Joyce O’Grady in her outfield position prevented any of the Erne Eagles side from increasing their score. The final score was 16-5 with a batting in hand.
Castlebar met last year’s finalists Carrigtwohill from Cork. Castlebar got off to a flying start and conceded only one run in the first two innings. Emily McHale contributed to this by catching a high speed ball direct off the bat. Sally Maughan's fielding throughout the game was outstanding. She caught three out in a row in the third inning where were extremely difficult. Castlebar batting brought home 10 runs in the first three innings with good batting from the majority of the team. Aisling Walsh again hit a home run in the top of the fourth inning bringing the final four runs home. However in the bottom of fourth inning the game turned on it head and Cork showed why they were Leinster champions. Poor pitching from the Castlebar bowler and confident batting meant that Cork achieved 13 runs in the fourth inning. Castlebar went into their last batting needing five runs to draw the match. Sarah Groonell stepped up the challenge with two out hitting a nice hit out the field between first and second. Unfortunately it was ‘two’ little too late and Cork took victory ending Castlebar hopes for the fourth consecutive U13 All-Ireland title. Cork were deserving U13 champions.
The loss of the U13’s made the U15’s more determined to succeed. Castlebar met Castletara/Ballyhaise of Cavan in the semi-final. Cavan have the reputation of being excellent outfield hitters. The Castlebar side knowing this knew they had to field at their peak. Their fielding was inspiring. For the first two innings the tremendous trio of Olivia Tolster bowling, Michelle Hopkins Back catching and Fionnuala Quinn on first ensured that no runner succeeded in reaching a base. As Cavan familiarised themselves with the high speed bowling of the Castlebar side, Mayo’s outfield player Kathryn Sullivan was brought in to the game. She single-handedly got the three outs in the fourth innings. Fionnuala Quinn proved to be a great asset on first with a lightning fast throw to Tressan Maughan on third to secure the final out of the game. Castlebar had secured their seat in the final with a mind blowing score of 7-0.
Castlebar met a very strong Wexford side from Piercetown/Mount Corbally. Tressan "Messin’" Maughan won the toss and choose to field. Castlebar’s Player of the Year proved worthy of her title by catching was seemed to be an unreachable ball at Home Base. This set the ball rolling for the Castlebar side with Liane Smyth and Emma Flannelly taking the next two outs. Castlebar was nervous going into the first batting as the Wexford bowler appeared to be a lot to handle. Her pitching in the semi final consisted of whizzed balls past the batters. Unfortunately for Wexford the bowler was not on form and her inconsistency resulted in eight walks-ons from play. Katie Tynan was one of the first batters to receive three good balls but this didn’t faze her as she connected well and hit a massive ball outfield. This paved the way for the Mayo batters with Emma 'Rapunzel' Flannelly continuing this rally of outfield hits. Castlebar secured 16 runs in the first inning.
Spirits high the Castlebar side on their turn to field was superb with Liane Smyth catching a great ball on the second base and Michelle Hopkins falling over the Wexford supporters to catch the next out. Good bowling by Olivia ensure that the next batter hit the ball foul. Castlebar’s next turn to bat was the undoing of Wexford. Kathryn Sullivan hit a great ball with base loads to ensure a home run hit. Although were great jitters our outfielders Kathryn, Michelle Newcombe and Becky were excellent. Castlebar took the title 25-6.
Thanks to all the parents who travelled to Mosney to support the teams and to Jerry Tolster who held the party for both teams on their return from Mosney.
U13 Team Photo
Back row – L-R –Orla Cullan, Niamh O’Donoghue, Aisling Walsh, Sarah Groonell, Sally Maughan (Cpt) and Joyce O’Grady
Front row – L-R – Emily McHale, Katie Kenny, Ailbhe Sheridan, Aislinn McGovern and Leanne O’Connor.
U15 Team Photo
Back row – L-R – Juliet Connaughton, Majella Haverty, Fionnuala Quinn, Katie Tynan, Michelle Hopkins, Liane Smyth and Michelle Newcombe
Front Row – L-R – Rebecca Conlon, Emma Flannelly, Tressan Maughan (Cpt), Olivia Tolster and Kathryn Sullivan.