On Saturday, August 11, the first ever juvenile u12 hurling blitz took place on Rathlin island and it proved to be an outstanding success all round. Teams from Glenshesk, Cushendall and Glenarrife made the short journey to the island and the spectators were treated to a fine display of hurling in this marvellous setting.
The teams set off from Ballycastle on the 12.00 ferry and as the boat pulled in to Rathlin the excitement was buzzing amongst the kids.
For many of them this was their first visit to the island and their first overseas blitz!
The three teams changed into their club strips and were paraded to the Sports Field. The competition was a 7-a-side format under the Go Games rules and from the start the quality of hurling was very high.
There were a number of very closely fought matches particularly between old rivals, Cushendall and Glenariffe and some superb individual displays from all the teams. The blitz also provided the opportunity for young players to see things from the ref’s viewpoint as juvenile whistlers took charge of some of the matches.
At the end of the blitz commemorative medals were presented to all the players who participated and the kids were treated to an eagerly awaited meal on the island. Gerry Mc Glynn, co-organiser, stated that the venture was a great success.
“The idea first came about following a discussion last year on widening the appeal of Gaelic games to areas not normally seen as hurling strongholds. Following talks with North Antrim Board, County Hurling officers and island representatives it was agreed to press ahead with a youth blitz in August.
“The day went brilliantly with many islanders and tourists attending the event. The spectacular setting and warm sunshine combined to make the blitz a very memorable occasion for all the kids and supporters. It has also been agreed to make this an annual event and invited teams will play for a specially-commissioned shield designed and casted by Paddy Burns called Sciath na n Óg,” Gerry told the Times.
Thanks to go to Rathlin Development Community Association, Donaghmore Construction and Rathlin Ferry Ltd for their assistance in bringing this historic event to fruition and also to the participating clubs and their mentors.
“We are looking forward to next year’s blitz already and hopefully our players and families will spread the word about their enjoyable visit to Rathlin,” he added.