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Connacht and Ulster Táin Óg U-16 Finals produced a feast of hurling

Last weekend’s U-16 Táin Óg Hurling League Finals in Connacht and Ulster produced a feast of hurling and some ferociously contested matches.

Derry club Slaughtneil have long been one of the dominant forces of Ulster club hurling and they clearly have another very talented generation coming through going by their Division 1 Final victory over Aodh Ruadh Ballyshannon.

Huge credit must also go to the Donegal side who pushed them all the way before being edged out on a scoreline of 1-15 to 3-7.

Aodh Ruadh have done some great developmental work at juvenile level to grow hurling in the club in recent years and it’s clearly paying off.

The Slaughtneil team that won the Táin Óg U-16 Ulster Division 1 title. 

The Slaughtneil team that won the Táin Óg U-16 Ulster Division 1 title. 

Connacht Division 1 champions, Clonguish, are another club reaping the rewards of a renewed focus on underage hurling development in the club.

They avenged their only previous loss in this year’s competition by beating Athleague/Tremane in the Final, and in doing so exceeded their own expectations at the outset of the season.

“There hadn't been underage hurling for a number of years and this team is the first gang we've had from U-8 hurling all the way up along,” says Clonguish U-16 team manager, John O’Brien.

“They're a really good bunch of hurlers and have gotten a lot of exposure to good games this year.

“This year we entered Division 1 of the Táin Óg just to see where we were at in terms of the standard and how much the guys have progressed.

“It just goes to show that when they do get consistent games over a number of years that there's a real improvement and an appetite among the lads to play hurling.

“Right now they're at an age where they can pick and choose what they want to play and where they want to go of an evening because there so many other options now.

“But in fairness to them a good chunk of them have stuck with the hurling even though they'd all be footballers as well. So you're talking about lads who are really keen to be dual code players which is great.

“A lot of them would be on underage county football panels but they've stayed committed to the hurling as well because the games are there and the standard is there.”

The Clonguish team that won the Táin Óg U-16 Connacht Division 1 title. 

The Clonguish team that won the Táin Óg U-16 Connacht Division 1 title. 

Roscommon club, St. Dominics, were Division Two champions in Connacht, beating St. Ciaran’s on a scoreline of 7-6 to 5-9.

Like every other club in the competition, they’ve felt the benefit of testing themselves against opponents from different counties.

“Because of the small number of clubs in Roscommon we end up playing the same number of teams over and over,” says St. Dominics manager, Mike Kilcline.

“Whereas the Táin Óg gives you access to a bigger pool of different clubs from different counties and you have to up your game when you meet these teams.”

The Ulster Division 2 and Division 3 Finals were both crackers. Setanta from Donegal defeated Keady from Armagh by 4-9 to 4-7 in the Division 2 Final, and Killcylogher/Cappagh edged out Naomh Aodhan by 2-5 to 2-3 in the Division 3 Final.

Táin Óg U-16 Ulster and Connacht Finals

Division 1 Ulster Final

Aodh Ruadh Ballyshannon 3-07 Robert Emmettst Slaughtneil 1-15

Division 1 Connacht Final

Clonguish 5-11 Athleague/Tremane 6-5

Division 2 Ulster Final

Setanta (Ballerin/Eoghan Ruadh) 4-09 Céide Lámh Dhearg 4-07

Division 2 Connacht Final

St Dominics 7-06 St Ciarans 5-09

Division 3 Ulster Final

Killyclogher/Cappagh 2-05 Naomh Aodhan 2-03