The historic first All-Ireland GAA title along with two Munster titles were fittingly marked by Mitchelstown CBS at a Celebration dinner and presentation on Saturday last, June 25th. The function at the Firgrove Hotel was attended by players, family and friends along with invited guests. Many of the players were presented with 3 medals – Munster Under 16 ½ hurling 2015, Munster senior football 2016 and the collector’s item – the All-Ireland senior football medal for 2016. It was also noted on the night that in addition to the titles won, the school had been finalists in two further Munster competitions – Under 16 ½ hurling in November 2016 in which they lost to a last-minute goal by St. Colman’s Midleton, and the 2016 Munster senior B hurling final which they lost to the subsequent All-Ireland champions, The Abbey from Tipperary.
2016 was the third occasion for Mitchelstown CBS to win a Munster senior football title, with the previous wins in 1972 and 1991. Fergal McLoughlin, captain of the 1991 team, was among the special guests and he spoke of the memories of their campaign 25 years ago. Sympathies were extended to the family of 1972 captain Seamus Fitzgerald on the death of his mother Bedina earlier in the day. Seamus was a keen supporter of the 2016 team’s campaign. Other invited guests in attendance included local GAA sports writer Paddy Ryan, Avondhu GAA secretary John Courtney, Councillors Kay Dawson and Deirdre O’Brien and representatives of many local GAA clubs. Presentations were made to Helen O’Sullivan for her organisation of the commemorative DVD of the All-Ireland final, to Kieran Cotter who provided commentary on the DVD and to John Courtney for his organisation of the memorable homecoming on the night of the All-Ireland final. Hurling coach Jason Walsh thanked the boys for their efforts and commended them for their achievements. Football coach Cillian Bohane noted the huge role played by parents, and also encouraged the boys to maintain the tremendous workrate they had shown, not just in sport but in life. CBS Principal Mary Hannon, M.C. for the night’s proceedings, thanked those who had contributed to the GAA successes in the school, noting in particular the huge voluntary effort put in by coaches Willie Duggan, Cillian Bohane, Jason Walsh, Anthony Nash, Conor O’Leary and Eoin Kavanagh, and indeed by club coaches and those in the local primary schools. The Principal thanked those who had sponsored the senior teams including jersey sponsor Kevin Moloney (Colours Paints), O’Sullivan buses Kildorrery, John Walsh Fireplaces, Mitchelstown GAA development Lotto and Noelle Kiely at NRG gym in Little Island. She also thanked Adva Signs Fermoy, Mitchelstown Lions club and Mr. Mister for their contributions to the presentation night.
Willie Duggan has spent many a year in Mitchelstown CBS but this year must surely be a highlight in his career. His pride in each of the players on both the hurling and football panels was reflected in the speech he made, in which each was accorded an individual tribute. Likewise, their appreciation of his sterling efforts was clearly shown in the standing ovation accorded to him at the end of his speech.
An All-Ireland title cannot be achieved without talented players, but neither will it happen without talented and dedicated coaches. This was acknowledged in the presentation of All-Ireland medals on behalf of the school to both coaches by football captain Colin English and vice-captain Eoin O’Mahony. Colin English had the honour of being the final speaker on the night before he and Eoin made a presentation to each coach on behalf of their team-mates.
While focus for these players will invariably switch to club activities now, a number also have the honour of being involved in their county minor panels, and we wish them every success in those endeavours over the coming weeks. For many of the players awarded on Saturday night it was a final sporting act in their time in CBS. It is surely be one they will remember for many a day to come.