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Sambo McNaughton guest of honour at Juvenile Hurling Awards Presentation Night

On Saturday last we had our annual Juvenile Hurling Presentation night, and in keeping with other years, this years guest was another legend of the hurling world the great Terence 'Sambo' McNaughton from Antrim. Sambo enjoyed a 17 year playing career with Antrim. He played in the All Ireland Final in 1989 and won an All-Star in 1991, he is widely regarded as one of Ulster's greatest ever hurlers. The regard in which he is held in the hurling world is shown by his inclusion on the Hurling Review Committee set up by President of the GAA Liam O'Neill last year. Juvenile Hurling Chairman John Rooney welcomed all to this year's event especially all the players and their families. He was delighted to welcome the great Sambo to Aodh Ruadh. He also welcomed Donegal Hurler Paul Sheridan to the event and congratulated him on being awarded Donegal Hurler of the year for 2014.

Sambo gave a great talk which young and old learned a lot from, he covered topics such as his difficulties as a child with a speech impediment and weight issues, how he overcame these difficulties to go on and become the greatest hurler he could. He spoke of the last line in his much acclaimed autobiography All Or Nothing which was, "No regrets." He advised all present to have no regrets, he said in his work in the pub business he hears plenty of bar room regret stories and advised the boys to give of their best in everything they do. He spoke of his love of hurling and of the great game it is, and he thanked the club for inviting him to our presentation night.

While we didn't win any county titles this year we had competed at all levels from under 8s to minors with varying degrees of success. All of our teams achievements were recognised on the night and all players up to under 14 were awarded certificates as a recognition of their efforts all year. Sambo presented the certificates to all and posed for photos with everyone. Special guests also on the night were Creevy National School who recently won the Cummann na mBunscoil county final defeating Tooban National School, and claiming the title for the first time in the school's history. Principal of the school Ms Aoibhinn Kelly along with teachers Geraldine Thomas, Carmel McGee and Paula Gibson were present and Ms Kelly proudly called her team forward to receive their medals from Sambo.

We then had a number of individual presentations, firstly to Declan Breslin, Nathan Owens Kelly, and Gavin McGarrigle recognising their participation with the Donegal under 12 development squad in the Activity Day in Croke Park, hopefully the first of many appearances for them on the hallowed turf. Senan Rooney received a presentation for playing in the INTO exhibition game at half time in the All-Ireland semi-final between Limerick and Kilkenny. Next to receive awards were our representatives on the county under 14 team Pauric Keenaghan, Aaron Peach and Liam O'Sullivan, three All Ireland medallists Stephen Anderson, Conall Sweeney and Paddy McCaffrey were next to be honoured, these three lads were on the Donegal under 15 squad who won the under 16 C All-Ireland title. We had three representatives on the Donegal under 16 squad Oisin Rooney (captain) Brendan Gillespie and Kieran Daly. Our next three award winners represented Ulster this year, Oisin Rooney and Brendan Gillespie were selected for the Ulster camp held in Jordanstown in July while Orlaith Gillespie was selected for the camogie camp also held in Jordanstown. Unfortunately Brendan was injured for the game against the Galway under 15s. Oisin made the team and scored two goals and was one of only three players outside of Antrim and Down who made the team. Orlaith is training away with the Ulster squad and hoped to make the team for a game against Dublin early in the new year, it was a great achievement by these three players to reach this standard. We had seven representatives on the Donegal minor squad who narrowly lost to Derry in the Ulster championship and lost after extra time to Roscommon in the All-Ireland B quarter-final, they were Eddie Lynch (captain) Ciaran Rami, Oisin Roper, Eugene Drummond, Oisin Rooney, Brendan Gillespie and Donal Sweeny.

The final presentation of the night was made by Club President Owen Roe O'Neill who presented Sambo with a memento of his visit to the club. There followed the usual great refreshments supplied by the parents where there was loads of food for everyone. Sambo then conducted a very open question and answer session with everyone and all got a great insight into his career, the difficulties keeping hurling alive in Ulster and many other issues.

On Sunday morning in poor conditions he conducted a very good training session for the under 16s and minors and from there he headed back to the Glens of Antrim, a very genuine man and a true GAA legend.

Thanks to Peter McIntyre of the Allingham Arms Hotel for his help with Sambo's visit, Peter's support is much appreciated. Thanks to Sean Cassidy who set up the TV in the Aras, thanks to Ronan Mathews for all his photography on the night and to John Hughes for his slide show, finally thanks to all who turned up on the night to meet this great character.

Last modified: Tuesday, 26 May 2020 at 5:30pm