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Sat 03-Apr-2004 23:19
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Hurling in Croatia!
Whenever Croatia is mentioned the first thoughts are of beaches, sun, Dubrovnik, football, and probably the war that hit most of the country from 1991-95. However, a juvenile hurling team from Louth playing a series of exhibition matches in Knin, Split and Siveric, don't associate so readily!
However, this is what will happen between the 7th and 15th of April, with the young players of Naomh Moninne travelling to the mountain town of Knin to show off our national game.
What is Knin? Type it into a net search and you'll find pages of battles, death and destruction, until now. It was the last place to be taken from the Serbs in 1995 and has only begun to recover. The team from Dundalk are being hosted by the town and already the trip has caught the imagination of Dalmatia.
They will play four hurling matches, including one in the grounds of the mighty Hajduk Split. While other teenagers go on school trips to Germany or France, or even to Louth, the twenty-one players from Naomh Moninne will exhibit their skills for an area rebuilding itself.
The Gala Launch of the club's Juvenile Exhibition Tour of Croatia. took place on Friday evening, April 2nd at 7:30pm in the Fairways Hotel in Dundalk. As invited guests were the Croatian Ambassador to Ireland, His Excellency, Nenad Prelog, Communications Minister Dermot Ahern TD, Seamus Byrne - Chairman
Dundalk Town Council, Paddy McMahon - Chairman Louth County Board GAA.
and former Wexford stars Martin Storey and Liam Dunne.
All the participants paid for the trip and have been fundraising non-stop since October in order to make it the best GAA adventure to date.
At the reception, the 21 strong squad were presented with full team kit (Home and away strips) which were generously sponsored by Sony PlayStation 2 and Oxigen. The reception was sponsored by FastFix ltd.
What will the boys do in Croatia?
A long days journey on the 7th of April sees the players and mentors from Naomh Moninne take two planes, the first to London Stanstead and the second to Trieste, Italy. From there it’s a bus ride to Rijeka in Croatia, via Slovenia, where they will change buses and settle for the night in the coastal town of Karlobag. On the 8th the intrepid crew press on down the Adriatic coast to the ancient towns of Zadar, Sibenik and Trogir, before turning north into the mountains and Knin. There will be an official reception awaiting them in the town’s government buildings. The 9th will see the players put through their paces twice, before lunch and a walking tour of the town.
After training on the 10th in Knin, the group make for Split and a session with Croatia’s Olympic Athletics coach, Bojan Marinovic. Then the team visits the mighty Poljud, home of Hajduk Split, for a guided tour followed by an exhibition game. Sunday the 11th starts with a trip to the Krka National Park and Waterfalls, and will have the main game on the tour with Knin seeing a full hour long exhibition of the player’s skills. The hosts then will lay on an extra special Easter dinner in the Army Mess Hall. Easter Monday will be the biggest day of the adventure. A Poc Fada competition in the local hills precedes the pair of soccer matches, one for the boys, one for the veterans, against Dinara Knin. The highlight of the day is the performance by Croatian music stars Ivana Banfic and Claudia Beni in the grounds of the castle, arranged for our hurling team.
Tuesday morning kicks off with an encore for the Veterans in the nearby town of Siveric, where the group are special guests in the rededication of the church of Siveric which was badly damaged during the 1991-5 war. Another exhibition of hurling skills will be performed during a break in the daylong youth Olympics in the town. The 14th will bring the group back into Split for the final exhibition game in the grounds of Nada Rugby Club, the old home of Hajduk Split! A tour of the city and some shopping later, they return to Knin for a special showing of Oscar-winning “In the Name of the Father” and a farewell party in the cinema. Early in the morning on the 15th the weary band make the return journey to Trieste, via Karlovac, and after a change of planes in London, arrive in Dublin at 7:30pm. The first venture into the Balkans for the GAA ends and hurling's legendary status extends its reach further than ever before!
1. James Connolly Goalkeeper Already a member of the Club senior and Junior Squads James is the top under-age keeper in the County.
2. Donal Rafferty Back Was at the D.J. Carey School of Hurling last year with the Louth U-14 team. A star in Kilkenny and Louth.
3. Jamie Cosgrove Back Had a great 2003-4 and has broken into the Club’s Junior panel. A leader on the team. Great catcher of a ball.
4. Jason McConville Back Has played with the club for a number of years and improved greatly. Also a notable soccer player.
5. Eugene Litchfield Back The Fitness Trainer for the under-16’s and 18’s, mmeber of the club’s Senior panel for 2 seasons. Another strong performer.
6. Andrew Mackin Back With Donal in Kilkenny last Summer and also impressed all involved. Another star in Kilkenny and Louth.
7. Ken Coleman Jr. Back A member of the club’s Senior team for 2 years and a great leader for the younger players. 2003 Minor Player of the Year.
8. Darren O’Hanrahan Midfield Player of the year for the U-16’s, and lynchpin of the team. Already an intercounty player at underage.
9. Christopher Lennon Midfield Led the u-16’s to within touching distance of the County title last season. A member of the club’s senior setup also.
10. Dean Carolan Forward Has been with the club for more than 5 years and been ever present at all age groups. Is in his second year with the u-16 team.
11. Thomas Maughan Jr Forward Has begun to develop into an excellent free-taker and forward. An intercounty player and will be in the club’s Junior squad.
12. Keith Taaffe Forward The oldest player on the trip and in his 3rd year with the Senior team. Has played underage intercounty also.
13. Eoin Whearty Forward A talented soccer player who is developing as a promising hurler. In his second year with the u-16 team.
14. Kevin Shields Forward Joined the club last year and has been an excellent addition, if only he’d remember to use his hurl and not his foot.
15. Jason Moore Forward Joined the club with Dean and has continued to develop as an strong hurler.
16. David Mc Keown Back A long time Moninne player and has hurled very well in the past season. Another Junior squad member.
17. Paddy Taaffe Goalkeeper A versatile player who can also play well in the forwards. An intercounty player and member of the club’s Junior and Senior squads.
18. Sean Mc Coy Back Has been a revelation this past year and solid addition to the u-16 team. In his second year with the squad and will play intercounty soon.
19. Vainius Formaniukas Back The first ever Lithuanian to play in County Championship competition any where in Ireland, Vainius is a fast improving member of the squad.
20. Andrew McGee Forward A very strong and skilful player who is in his second year with the u-16’s. Will play intercounty this year.
21. Christopher Heeney Forward The last but most important player on the trip. Has already had a taste of life in the u-16’s and will be a club star in the future.
22. Gerry Litchfield A selector on the u-16’s and father of Eugene. He’s looking forward to playing in Croatia in both soccer and hurling.
23. Donal Connolly Co-Manager with the u-16’s and driving force behind the trip. Has been in winter training for the trip. Fat
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