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28 May 2022

Drumshanbo VS all set for one big day

Drumshanbo Volleyball semi-final refixed for next Monday

Drumshanbo Vocational School are all set for the games of their lives as they take on the best schools in this year’s All-Ireland Schools Cadette A Finals.

Volleyball Ireland decided that this year's cadette school championship, which will be streamed on the Volleyball Ireland YouTube channel, would all take place on one day in January so Drumshanbo started training in October, trained through Christmas but the Omicron went wild and all was postponed.

Now, tomorrow, Thursday, in ALSAA near Dublin airport, they finally play in their own competition against the top eight U16 schools in the republic.

It has been the strangest build up ever. At the end of the day, Drumshanbo could be ranked anywhere from eighth to National Champions. Unlike the Senior team who lost all their experienced possible six years, or the Juniors who got very short notice to prepare, these boys have prepared and trained and trained.

Over 20 players have vied for the first six starting places. All possible starting six know they have an equally good rival on the bench with at least 12 serious contenders. Their enthusiasm knows no bounds. Many a dark cold morning they were there. Three are attending national panels. Observers seem to think of them favourably compared to past winners.

They have been blessed with help too. Manager Aidan Shannon has brought on board a new staff member, Fiachra Guihen as his deputy. Every time there might be a gap in training due to Aidan’s family commitments, Fiachra was able to keep the training going.

Over the winter, Irish International Gareth Gilmartin frequently took sessions and as the Spring came in, All Ireland medalists Ciarán McMorrow and Karl Winters from leaving cert and classmate Aidan Dowler (all year) kept them well grounded by sparring against them in each game at training.

Recently they have been joined by past pupil Cathal McGourty, who has joined the staff on work placement from his Sports course at Sligo IT. All help was needed as many of the management and players got hit by covid over the months.
But they have never won a match yet!

They have only played three as they lost 0-3 to Drumshanbo seniors. But that senior team was stronger than the team that came third in Ireland. They lost to Elphin Seniors 1-2 but Elphin were ranked second this year. A mixed panel drew with Elphin cadettes.

Finally they lost 1-2 to Drumshanbo Seniors again. All thought the Seniors played better than in their Senior competition. All matches were very close.

The unknown awaits. The panel is Darragh Lee, Cian Dennis, Cian McCormack, Daniel O’Loughlin, Padraig Kane, Jason Lynch, Connor McLoughlin, Cormac Rynn, Ruairí Grier, Jack Keaney, Nathan Mahon, Fionnán McKeon, Joseph Gilmartin, and Cian Ferry.

Virtually just under 30 years ago, in April 1992, Drumshanbo hit a dream when, with Richard O’Loughlin as their youngest panel member, they won their first ever Volleyball All Ireland with Richard’s brother Cathal as captain.

Earlier that season Drumshanbo played in its first ever senior National competition with Harry Rynn as captain. Now Richard and Harry’s sons – Daniel and Cormac, hope to break new boundaries and make Drumshanbo the first school to win 10 boys National titles at the one age, 30 years on. But even if they don’t, they will have enjoyed every minute of the effort!

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