Inniskeen Grattans revel in Cúchulainn Cup success
By John Harrington
In its inaugural year, the Cúchulainn Cup has already proven itself to be a competition that can really encourage the growth of hurling in developing counties.
A lack of meaningful matches has always stunted development in counties with a small number of hurling clubs.
But the Cúchualainn Cup has shown that by dissolving county boundaries and bringing together clubs from different parts of the country you can solve this problem.
Monaghan club Inniskeen Grattans are already sold on the benefits of the competition having beaten Carrick Hurling in the Cúchulainn Cup on Sunday.
“We were very enthusiastic about the competition from the get-go,” says Inniskeen Grattans Hurling Officer, Patrick Boyle.
“It's a great idea, a great concept, and we really, really enjoyed every aspect of it. Playing new teams, the level playing field element of it, it was a breath of fresh air from the normal routine of club hurling in Monaghan.
“There are currently seven clubs in Monaghan but there's a big gulf between the top and the bottom. So that's why having another meaningful competition where you play teams of a similar level is great.
“This competition ticked all the boxes for us and we're delighted obviously with the way the competition finished for us. It's a great concept and we really feel like it pushed us on a level.
“We're in the Junior Championship in Monaghan and we're really enthusiastic now about giving that a good lash too.”
The hope too is that a win like this energises hurling at all levels in the club.
A lot of effort has been put into reorganising the junior structures in the club in recent years and they now field teams from U-7 up to U-13.
The age-profile of the current senior team is quite a high with a number of players in their forties and thirties, so the club knows its imperative they complete the player pathway in the coming years and bring young hurlers up to minor and then on to senior.
Many of the current senior panel are heavily involved in this endeavour by coaching and managing the juvenile teams.
That has helped foster a real sense of unity in the club and a win like Sunday’s can only help inspire the next generation to want to represent Inniskeen Grattans at senior level themselves in the future.
“That was really evident on the day,” says Boyle. “The kids were out in force to support the senior team and celebrating with the trophy and having photos taken afterwards with the players.
“You can see those U-13 players coming through and they know now that there's a player pathway for them to aspire to.
“They'll now hope to have future days like that themselves as senior hurlers. What is helping too is that some of the senior players have really engaged with the juvenile set-up.
“They're leading the way in terms of coaching the underage players and organising the teams.”