Established in 2016 The Bank Of Ireland Celtic Challenge is the only Hurling competition with teams from all 32 counties participating. In 2019 a total of 44 teams (including county teams and teams representing regions within counties), that is over 1,300 players will play 138 games including 6 finals.
The ethos of the competition is a developmental one with the aim to help the gane develop beyond the traditional hurling strongholds. There are 8 groups in the competition and after the initial round-robin group phase the teams will be graded on their performance and will then be assigned to one of the 6 divisions for the quarter-finals and semi-finals where they will compete against teams of a similar level. All players are provided with a Celtic Challenge jersey as a momento of the competition , designed and sponsored for each of the 44 teams by O’Neill’s House of Sport .
Monaghan is in Group F of the competition with Cavan, Longford, Louth, Wicklow Gold and Kildare Cadets. To date Monaghan has played 4 rounds registering 2 comfortable wins and 2 defeats. Manager Kevin Moloney has 6 clubs at his disposal with Baile Na Lorgan and Carraig Mhachaire Rois forming the backbone of the team plus An Bhoth, Clairsaigh Mhuineacháin , Gaeil Triúcha and Inis Caoin .16 of the panel graduated from the 2016 U14 Monaghan Hurling Development Squad.
Monaghan’s Celtic Challenge journey began with Round 1 in Entekra Monaghan GAA Centre of Excellence Cloghan agaisnt Louth. Monaghan’s dominance was obvious in this encounter from the start as they set the pace for what was a fast flowing game with their accuracy, clinical defending and attacking plus long range scores key factors as they outscored the visitors. Round 2 was between the Farney county and Wicklow Gold with the venue Drumree in the Royal County. Both teams came into this match having registered first round victories and were hoping to build on that success. Played in unseasonal weather conditions it was Wicklow Gold that went on to register their second win of the competition at the expense of Monaghan. Round 3 was played in Louth GAA Centre of Excellence Darver between Monaghan and Kidare Cadets. Monaghan performed well for most of the first half but Kildare Cadets killed off the game with a 3 goal blitz before the interval making it an impossible mountain for Monaghan to climb in the second half. Round 4 of this journey took Monaghan to Kingspan Breffni against neighnours Cavan. Monaghan once again played superb hurling which was evenly contested by Cavan with only a point between the sides at the interval. Monaghan’s dominance came to the fore in the second half and 3 goals saw Monaghan return to winning ways securing their second victory of the competition. Monaghan now face Longford in the last round of the group stage and Monaghan GAA would like to wish them good luck in that encounter.
Best And Fairest: After each match the referee awards a player from each team a “Best And Fairest Award” . A player is selected on the basis of their skill level as well as the respect shown to the playing rules, match officials and their fellow players. Congratulations to James Slevin, Mikey Carville, Shane Slevin and Senan O’Brien who are Monaghan’s recipients of this award to date.