Underage Glory in the 80s

Success had been achieved at schools level in 1982 & 1983. Great credit is due to teachers John Knox and Dick O’Neill for their great work with these young boys. As this pool of talented players came on stream the club built on this success with an underage committee steer headed by Vincent Kehoe.

In 1986 the first victory of the decade was recorded when Young Irelands won the minor B hurling championship. On their way to the final they beat Fenians by 7 – 9 to 3 – 6 and Freshford in the northern final 5 – 11 to 1 – 7. This was a sweet victory for Young Irelands because Freshford had beaten them in the league decider. They met Slieverue in the County final and a late goal clinched victory for them at 1 – 10 to 1 – 5. The sides had been level at the interval with Young Irelands having scored 0 – 6 to Slieverue’s 1 – 3.

Outstanding for the winners were D J Carey in goal, Pat O’Neill, Pat Drea, John Middleton, Mervyn Holden and Michael Kehoe.

Scorers: Shane O Neill 0 – 2, Thomas Curran 0 – 2, Pat O’Neill 0 – 3, Michael Keogh 1 – 2, Charlie Carter 0 – 1.

Earlier in the year the team had qualified for the minor league final against St Lachtains. This was one of the best games in the minor championship grade that year. Having led from the start Gowran were beaten when Freshford scored a goal in the last minute giving a 1 – 7 to 1 – 6 victory. At the interval Gowran led 0 – 5 to 0 – 2. Pat O’Neill had a wonderful game and others to play well were Shane O’Neill, Pat Drea, Thomas Curran, and Michael Keogh.

The year of 1987 was to prove highly successful. Young Irelands finished as the team of the year in the under 16 grade. They equalled the record previously held by James Stephens, Mooncoin and Piltown by taking all four under 16 crowns. In their first year in Roinn A they took the hurling league and championship while their footballers won the Roinn B league and championship.

Young Irelands scored a sweet victory in the league final. They beat James Stephens by 6 – 12 to 2 – 6. The winners played their best hurling of the year in the first half and powered to an interval lead of 3 – 6 to 0 – 2. Stephens dominated the opening 20 minutes of the second half and had Gowran in trouble when they narrowed the gap to 3 – 7 to 2 – 5.

The switching of Pat O’Neill to centre back steadied the winners. They scored 3 – 5 in reply to a point for the losers to run out convincing winners. In addition to Pat O’Neill, who was the star, Gowran had excellent players in James Bryan, Ciarán Phelan, James McDermott, Joe Lennon and Charlie Carter, who had a field day at full forward.

Scorers: Ciarán Phelan 0 – 1, Robert Middleton 1 – 0 , James McDermott 0 – 1, Pat O’Neill 0 – 5, Ciarán Carey 1 – 0, Martin Carey 2 – 0, Charlie Carter 2 – 5, David O’Neill 0 – 1.

Mooncoin pushed Irelands all the way in the championship final. Gowran eventually won by 3 – 7 to 2 – 7. It was Young Irelands first Under 16 Roinn A title. Two years earlier in the under 14 Gowran had beaten Mooncoin by 2 points.

Best for the winners were Pat O’Neill, although not allowed to dominate as he usually did, James Bryan, Jack Carey, Robert Middleton, James McDermott and Charlie Carter.

Scorers: Pat O’Neill 0 – 1, Ciarán Phelan 0 – 1, Charlie Carter 2 – 3, David O’Neill 1 – 0, Joe Lennon 0 – 2.

With D J Carey, Pat O’Neill, Charlie Carter and Cathal Fitzgerald on the county minor panel of 1988 the Gowran boys were favourites to win a minor title that year. This was not to be. The Saturday after Kilkenny’s victory in the minor All Ireland final Gowran met Johnstown and the northern semi final. The first half was a tight enough affair but Johnstown goaled early in the second half and went from there to win the game and susequently became county champions.

However the decade did end on a brighter note when the minor team of 1989 made history by winning the first Roinn A minor title for the club. Young Irelands put in storming performance in the second half and outplayed Mooncoin in the final to win this game. Gowran played with real class and finished with a rush of seven unanswered points during the closing quarter.

The first half was absorbing and both sides had their moments in front. The winners got off to a flying start when man of the match Robert Middleton pointed and then in the fifth minute a speculative shot from 60 yards by captain, Charlie Carter dipped into the roof of the net. Mooncoin fought back well and at the interval the teams were level at 1 – 5 each.

To start the second half Gowran had points from Martin Carey, Charlie Carter and Robert Middleton and Pat O’Neill. They went on from there and Mooncoin faded out of the game. Gowran finished up winning 1 – 18 to 1 – 6. In defence Ciarán Phelan put in a great hour as did Pat O’Neill.

Scorers: Robert Middleton 0 – 8, Charlie Carter 1 – 4, Pat O’Neill 0 – 3 (2 65’s), Martin Carey 0 – 1, David O’Neill 0 – 1, James McDermott 0 – 1.

This victory entitled Young Ireland’s to provide the county minor captain for 1990. The honour was given to James McDermott who duly became the first Gowran man to captain an All Ireland winning team. A fitting end to a glorious decade.

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