History - The Rebirth of Senior Hurling
The Re-birth of Bredagh Senior Hurling
By Eamonn Mulvenna, November 2011
Senior Hurling at Bredagh was re-introduced in 2005 saw the re-introduction of Senior hurling at Bredagh. This was the next natural step after introducing juvenile hurling in 2002, the juvenile successes were summed up by Hurling Board rep, Matt Fitzpatrick; "it’s great to see a club like Bredagh making the strides you are making. Danny Hughes in particular deserves a lot of credit for the work he’s put in and the way you have all responded” when handing over the U14 B Hurling Championship trophy in 2005.
The young boys needed a Senior team to look up to and the club entered the Down ACHL Division 2 that year. Eamon Mulvenna had urged the hurling committee to make the jump to enter a Senior team and his reward was the post of team manager where he was joined by former Antrim stars, Rory Galway and Ciaran Donnelly. The Seniors used between 40-50 players that year and fielded in every game with the highlights being their first outing against neighbours Darragh Cross in the league and recording their first win in a challenge game against Eire Óg.
Word started to spread that Bredagh were serious about hurling and more players came out of the woodwork to strengthen the Senior squad. 2006 Bredagh was the only Down club to lift an Ulster title when they won the inaugural Club SDL Division three title beating Mullahoran, Cavan in the final at St Tiernach’s Park, Clones.
In the same year the team had a great run in the Down JHC and went into the final against Ballyvarley as favourites. The favourites tag was justified as Bredagh led by 7 points going into the last quarter but a late surge from the ‘Varley men denied them their first JHC victory.
Nevertheless, it was a remarkable year for the hurlers with such early successes signalling there was more to come. Most encouraging was how the more experienced players such as Danny Hughes, Seamus McKillop, Feargal McCamphill, Lorenzo McMullan, Mark Sidebottom, Fintan McDonald and Paddy McGrenaghan all blended well with the young guns such as Stevie McGettrick, Ian Galway, Paddy Byrne, Paul Doole, Michael Whyte, Eóghan Donnelly and Rory McCaughey. Add in Brian Connolly, Charlie Dillon, Paul Boyle, Colin O’Neill, Seamus McLoughney and a Darragh Cross contingent of Colin Murray, Mickey McKervey and Ciaran Nixon and you can see why hurling in Bredagh was growing stronger and stronger.
2007 – The Breakthrough Year
In 2007 the hurling fraternity brought great honour for the Bredagh club. The Seniors did the double winning the Down JHC final against Warrenpoint and clinching the ACHL Division two title. They also went on a great run through the Ulster JHC falling to Setanta, Donegal at the semi-final stage after a replay.
The development and progression of the young players was a hallmark of the year with Ian Galway picking up the ‘Player of the Match’ in the JHC final and great displays from the likes of Eóghan Donnelly, Cormac Hughes, Matthew McAfee and Michael Mullan. The squad continued to be bolstered with ‘blowins’ from all over Ireland including Jack Anderson, Ultan Power, William Gilmore, Alastair McAllister, David Brady, Cathair Bonnar, Mark McGinley, Mark Heron and Vincent McCool.
Another Step Up
While the Bredagh hurling committee and the wider Bredagh family never expected the development of hurling to be so rapid, success brought its challenges with the step up to IHC and Division one hurling in 2008. The old management team of Rory Galway, Ciaran Donnelly and Eamon Mulvenna passed the baton on to the new management team of Sean McGuinness, Colm McGuinness and Liam Quinn as everyone committed to raising the bar to the next level.
The Seniors also entered Antrim Division 4B and that was their main success winning promotion to Division 4A. The team ended up mid table in the Down ACHL Division one and exited the IHC at the first hurdle but importantly more talent was being unearthed with 7 of the Bredagh Minors representing Down and winning the All Ireland C final against Sligo.
In 2009, hurling continued to flourish with the Minors winning a league and championship double, and the Seniors making a historic first appearance in the Down IHC final only to lose narrowly to a strong Liatroim Fontenoys outfit. Bredagh were also represented at Senior county level with Paul Kelly and Ian Galway starring for the South Down team.
2010 – Hurling Starts to Mature
While 2007 was a breakthrough year, 2010 saw hurling development starting to mature. The hurlers won their championships at all underage and Senior levels.
The Seniors won the IHC final after a mighty battle against Newry Shamrocks and clinched the Antrim Division 4 league title remaining unbeaten throughout the year.
All of this success bodes well for the club’s ambitions to compete at SHC level. Paul Kelly, Ian Galway, Eóghan Donnelly and Paddy Byrne represented the club at South Down County level while Cormac Hughes was invited on to the Down County Senior panel and his brother Donal scored a winning goal on his debut.
Down SHC New Boys
At this stage the Senior hurlers are now fielding two teams, the Seniors are fielding in Antrim Division 3. The opposition is much tougher with the likes of St Paul’s and Sarsfields in Belfast as well as strong teams in North Antrim including Cushendun, Armoy and Cloughmills. However the Seniors retained their Division 3 status for 2012.
The 2nd string have fielded for the second year in the Down ACHL Division 2 which offers the opportunity to ‘blood’ the young hurlers coming through the Minor ranks
In the Down SHC 2011, Bredagh made history by competing in the Down SHC so the future is bright for hurling at Bredagh.