Hurling fraternity pays a fitting tribute to Annabel

Hurling fraternity pays a fitting tribute to Annabel

Huge crowds flocked to Clonkill Hurling Club’s grounds at Loughegar on Saturday last, for the highly-anticipated ‘Annabel’s All-Stars’ hurling tournament and fun day.

The seven-a-side hurling tournament, which involved all sixteen of Westmeath’s hurling clubs and Dublin side Ballyboden St Enda’s, was held in memory of little Annabel Loughlin (3), who died in a tragic accident in Delvin last November.

All funds raised from the initiative will go to the Temple Street Children’s Hospital, Dublin and the paediatric unit at the Midland Regional Hospital, Mullingar.

Special guests on the day included legendary former Kilkenny hurler Henry Shefflin, who was joined by his wife Deirdre and their children for the day’s festivities. ‘The King’ was kept occupied signing autographs and having his photo taken with the multitude in attendance.

Also present was Mullingar man, impressionist and comedian Conor Moore, who – fresh from making it big in America – is back in Ireland at the present time; and Dublin senior hurler, Eoghan O’Donnell.

The action kicked off at 10.30am on Saturday morning with a series of games in the cup and shield competitions. Although there were sporadic showers throughout the day

In the cup, Clonkill and Delvin all clocked up victories in Group 1. Ballyboden St Enda’s, the Dublin club who struck up such a close relationship with Clonkill after the sides met in a sombre Leinster club semi-final last November, were the only non-Westmeath club involved. They defeated Castlepollard in Group 1, but lost to Delvin.

In group 2, there were wins for Raharney and Clonkill 2 (clad in pink ‘Annabel’s All-Stars’ jerseys, sponsored by KC Sports).

In the end, both Clonkill sides progressed to the final, with the Clonkill Greens annexing the cup. Clonkill’s Liam Moran was named player of the tournament, receiving a Galway Crystal trophy in recognition.

In the shield, Cullion were an impressive outfit from start to finish, seeing off St Oliver Plunkett’s and Crookedwood before defeating Ringtown 14-5 in the final.

U8 hurling and camogie challenge matches between Delvin and Clonkill were played over the course of the day, while a hurling penalty shootout took place, won by Darragh McCormack.

After the on-field action, a large crowd flocked to the main stage, where Conor Moore had the audience in stitches with a 10-minute routine, moving comfortably between Joe Brolly, Davy Fitzgerald, Donald Trump and Ger Loughnane.

“What an honour it is for you people to have me here today,” Conor proclaimed in his Brolly guise. When in Donald Trump character, he announced that Senator Aidan Davitt – MC for the day – is being considered as his running mate for the 2020 US presidential elections.

“It is tremendous to be here today. What a great club. I’ve gotta say, Clonkill is my most favourite part of Raharney,” the Donald said, before reminding everyone that the long-dead founder of the GAA, Michael Cusack, was a very good friend of his!

Speaking afterwards, Henry Shefflin said that he was delighted to be able to attend the event. “I think last November in Kilkenny, when we all heard the sad news about Annabel, it really struck a chord with everyone across the country,” said Henry, adding that the success of Saturday’s event underlined what the GAA is all about. He paid tribute to Annabel’s parents, Enda (former Westmeath hurler and Clonkill clubman) and Eileen (née O’Driscoll, Delvin), and their family.

On behalf of the Loughlin and O’Driscoll families, Eileen thanked everyone for their support on the day, and over the last nine and a half months.

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