They’ve done it! After 30 years of National Volleyball, Vocational Drumshanbo have achieved the ultimate. They have won the Senior, Cadette and Junior A national titles in one season.
Last Thursday, in the University of Limerick, their young Juniors matched their older teams by winning their sixth and seventh straight sets wins to capture the school’s first Junior title for 19 years.
Semi-final: Drumshanbo VS beat Elphin CC 25-18 25-22
This should have been the final. The first set was nothing like the score suggests. It was very tight at the start with two very long rallies and Drumshanbo’s less experienced players brittle on serve. Elphin caused problems with great serving which demanded Drumshanbo’s full athleticism to control.
About one third of the way in the set there were two fabulous runs - Radaslaw Oberwan hit five aces on the trot to open up a 9-3 lead for Drumshanbo. Almost immediately, Elphin’s Declan Main caused havoc with his serve and the scores levelled at 10-10! Drumshanbo were brittle and Elphin hitting well but, possibly, out a few times.
Oberwan again aced Drumshanbo 18-15 ahead. Drumshanbo’s defence, led by Seán Moran, withstood a battering. Then at 20-18 Drumshanbo went on the offensive: A winning flick from Ronan Moran, a spike winner from Oberwan and three aces from Eoin Guckian took the set.
Unlike when they met in round 2 however, Elphin did not collapse. Instead we had an extraordinarily close battle. Arkadiusz Oberwan aced Drumshanbo 4-0 ahead. Drumshanbo held the lead at 8-4 but Elphin took out the problematic Radaslaw Oberwan on the first go.
Again Elphin’s Main serve levelled the set at 9-9 and from then on, there was the tightest of games. Level 12 times, Elphin led by a point at 14, 15, 16,and 17. Drumshanbo led by 2 at 19-17. Elphin led 20-19 and 21-20.
With Drumshanbo ahead 22-21 there was an outstanding rally of 40+ touches. Seán Moran and Shane McKeon twice saved top class Elphin spikes and Drumshanbo held out. Guckian aced. Ronan Moran set Radaslaw Oberwan for a winning spike and Danny McWeeney aced the winner.
Final: Drumshanbo beat St. Brigid's Loughrea 25-17 25-21
Brigid's, against a massively supported Mountrath had come from behind to reach yet another final but from 2-4 they face a Drumshanbo that gave their peak performance of the day.
Ronan Moran served them 6-4 ahead. The Oberwans were on fire. Arkadiusz set Guckian to spike a winner and then hit 2 aces. Radaslaw aced three in a row. McWeeney spiked two winners, Ronan Moran flicked and blocked for 2 more winners.
Guckian spiked another and hit 3 aces and Drumshanbo raced 20-10 ahead. Brigid rallied a bit but Garry Corcoran got in on the act with 2 winners. The first set win in a Junior final for 10 years was Drumshanbo’s!
The final set opened with a massive bang on the head on Sean Moran from the very powerful Nikks Apse. But immediately McWeeney placed a winner and his 3 aces put Drumshanbo 5-2 ahead.
Brigid's came back but were lucky not to lose points from rotations errors. Guckian was rock like in defence as Drumshanbo led 15-10. Corcoran spiked a winner at 17-11. The Oberwan’s combined for an 18-13 lead and Radaslaw aced Drumshanbo 20-13 ahead.
Then Brigid's showed how they are so hard to beat, as aces brought them to just 18-21 behind. Shane McKeon came on and set and served to match point. Finally a dramatic saved ball from Guckian went into Ronan Moran who set up Radaslaw Oberwan for the spike of a lifetime. The drought was over!
His brother Arkadiusz got MVP for his perfect handling, a great day in the Polish household!
On this finals day there were teams from Newbridge and Naas in Kildare, from Blackrock in Dublin, from Loughrea and Ballinasloe in Galway, from Kilkenny, from Dungarvan, Waterford, from Elphin and Roscommon town, from Killarney in Kerry Mountrath in Co. Laois. Nice to think the top team was from Leitrim!
Panel: Arkadiusz Oberwan 12, Eoin Guckian 18, Danny McWeeney 5, Ronan Moran (capt) 12, Radaslaw Oberwan 23, Gary Corcoran 8, Shane McKeon 2, Seán Moran (libero), Damian Gilmartin, Damien Clarke, Micheal Noone; Manager Shane Hegarty, Trainers; Fergal Moran, Gareth Gilmartin. Also on the extended panel; Alan Mulhall, Sam Dawson, Jake McGarry Jake Tobin, Mark Reynolds, Rory O’Donnell
Conor Flood, the second most experienced player on the team had booked to go to New York many months before. The cost of flight change was prohibitive. Hopefully he will be celebrating a Leitrim win. Drumshanbo had won all their second sets with great comfort on previous rounds. He’s bound to have been missed.