U21 and Minor - Evolution!
Give the structure of competitions within the GAA, Under 16 and minor levels are an extremely important element in the overall organisation. These levels represent the transition from juvenile and youth to adult level. It is vital for any Club with ambitions for success at adult level to give special attention to Under 16 and minor football and hurling teams.
However, it is not just as a feeder for future adult teams that these teams should be seen. First and foremost, the Under 16 and minor competitions are significant in their own right.
With the progression of juvenile and youth teams from the foundation of the Club, St Judes readily rose to the challenge of entering teams in the highly competitive environment of Under 16 and minor leagues and championships engaging with such well established powers as St Vincents, Thomas Davis, Ballyboden St Endas and Erin's Isle.
Football teams at Under 16 and minor level took the field in the period 1982/84. The former performed creditably but the minors had to rely to some extend on Under 15 and Under 16 players, understandably for such a young Club. However, success was not that long coming. In 1985 an Under 16 team managed by Donnchadh O'Liathain, and ably captained by Seán O'Conaill, won Division 3 of the South Dublin League but were beaten in the All-Dublin final by Rosmini Gaels after a hard fought encounter in Ringsend Park.
In 1987 an Under 16 football team managed by John Gallen, Charles Moran, and Frank McSweeney won Division 2 of the South Dublin League. IN the same year the Club fielded an Under 16 hurling team, under John Gallen, Charles Moran and Finbarr Murphy, for the first time. They achieved instant success winning Division 2 of the League beating Raheny in the final in O'Toole Park. Peter "Hippo" Ryan represented Dublin at Minor levels in 1988. Minor mentors in those early years included Mick Harnett, Garrett Edge, Ray O'Connor and Martin Molamphy.
However, it was in 1989 that St Judes made a real impact on under age football in Dublin for the first time. In that year the Under 16 team, flushed with success from juvenile years, under the astute guidance of Seamus Durkan and Michael O'Boyle won the Dublin Championship and Division 1 of the League. This was the Club's first championship win and a tremendous achievement for such a relatively young club.
In football in the period of 1990 to 1994 the Club continued to compete at the highest levels at Under 16 and minor. Normally, there were two teams at each level thus ensuring a steady supply of players for the adult teams in subsequent years. Players from the 1991 Under 16 teams still involved in the Club involve Barry Heraty, Stephen Willoughby, Ronan Colgan, Niall Lawlor, Peter Gilsenan, Garrett Evans and Ciaran Cash. Kieran Durkan was selected for the Dublin Minor team. And in 1992 and 1993 Enda Sheehy played for the Dublin Minors.
In hurling in 1991 the minors under Joe Clavin, Michael Ryan and Seán Ward brought the first piece of silverware at that grade to the Club. They won Division 3 of the League defeating Naomh Fionnbarra in the final having won all their matches in the Southside League. The next year Bryan Duggan played in goal for the Dublin minor team and Enda Sheehy and Niall Ryan were also Dublin minors.
The year 1994 brought some further football successes. The Under 16A team under Seán McBride and Neil Doyle won Division 1 of the South City League and reached the quarter final of the championship. That year Enda Crennan was selected for the Dublin Under 16 team.
The year 1997 again saw success at under age level. The Under 16 hurlers under Don Lehane, Joe Clavin, Tommy Hartnett and Seán Ward won the B Championship after a one point win over St Peregrines in a thrilling final in Parnell Park. This was the first underage hurling championship won by the Club.
The year 1998 saw Seán Breheny (Snr), Bartle Faulkner and Tom Ryan in charge of the Under 16 football team. Seán Breheny, Micheál Lyons and John Waldron made the Dublin Under 16 panel. With the addition of a few second year minor, the 1997 Under 16 team progressed to Minor A in 1998. The same team essentially represented the Club at Minor A level in 1999. John Waldron and Seán Breheny were subsequently selected on the Dublin Minor panel which went on to win the Leinster Championship. In 1998/99 St Judes fielded three minor football teams, the only Club in Dublin to do so.
Mick O'Brien, John Foley and Eamon Treacy managed the 1999 football team. They finished well up in Division 2 of the League and reached the quarter final of the Championship. Fintan O'Brien was selected for the Dublin Under 16 footballers. This team went Minor A in 2001. They reached the top level of Division 1 eventually finishing in fourth place. Paul Copeland kept goal for the Dublin Minor team beaten in a replay by Tyrone in 2001 All-Ireland final. Paul was also goalkeeper for Dublin at Under 21 level in 2003 when, together with Michaél Lyons and Brendan McManamon, they secured the ultimate honour of All-Ireland winners.
By 2001 we were fielding two minor hurling teams and for the last two years our Minor A hurlers have reached the county championship final.
In 2002 the minors, coached by Oliver O'Connor, Christy O'Shea and Con O'Brien won their way to our first ever Minor A Championship final. Victories along the way over Crumlin, Ballyboden St Endas and St Brigids gave us great encouragement as we faced St Vincents in the final. The display of hurling skills that evening brought delight to the many supporter and, of course, minor mentors of previous years who saw all their hard work coming to fruition.
Today the club continues to evolve and produce outstanding quality of players in both football and hurling Under 16 and Minors. This is a testament to the dedication, commitment and motivation all players and mentors provide the club. The Club can take satisfaction from its involvement at Under 16 and minor level. The teams have consistently performed very well at the highest level in League and Championship. If the dedication and commitment show over the years by players and mentors alike is maintained St Judes will continue to be a powerful force within Dublin GAA.