The Cork minors and Aaron Walsh-Barry’s run to the Rebel’s first All-Ireland minor hurling final since 2007 began with a playoff against Waterford back in May where Aaron came off the bench for the last ten minutes of their easy 19-point win.
In the Munster semi-final, Cork met reigning All-Ireland champions Tipperary in Thurles in the first of an epic double-header between the old rivals. In the drawn match, Tipperary were exerting so much pressure on the Rebel defence that Denis Ring turned to Aaron Walsh-Barry to plug the gap at the back before half time. He hasn’t looked back since. Cork’s lucky escape and Aaron’s impressive performance earned him the start at No.5 for the replay, where he excelled as Cork progressed to their first Munster minor hurling final since 2008.
Aaron again got the start for the 17-point Munster final win over Clare and he became the first Carrig man to win a Munster minor title since Robbie White, who scored 1-2 against Tipperary in the 2006 decider.
A tougher assignment followed in the All-Ireland semi-final against Leinster runners-up, Dublin, but Corks and Aaron’s class shone through to book a place at headquarters for the first Sunday in September. It was an all the more remarkable feat as Aaron and Cork had claimed the inaugural U17 All-Ireland title in Croker just the week before, against many of the same Dubs. Indeed, Aaron will go down in GAA history as one of only about 5 players to have started in the first ever U17 All-Ireland hurling final and the last ever minor hurling final. It is an incredible accomplishment!
Aaron will again look to make history Sunday, as Cork are seeking their first All-Ireland title at this grade since 2001. Cork’s last appearance in the final was in 2007 when a Robbie White goal wasn’t enough to overcome Tipperary. If Cork do prevail, then Aaron will be the first Carrigtwohill player to win an All-Ireland minor hurling title since Niall McCarthy, Jason Barrett and Mickey ‘Da’ Fitzgerald did so in 1998. That is fine company to be in. Regardless of the outcome, Aaron’s achievements thus far have been phenomenal. He has been the only player on the Cork panel this year to force his way into the starting fifteen through performance and not through injury. He is an example for all others to follow.
Carrigtwohill GAA Club are extremely proud of this young man, who is the perfect role model for our young generation of hurlers. We wish Aaron, the Cork team and mentors the very best of luck in the final against Galway. Throw-in is at 1.15pm tomorrow, Sunday 3rd September.
Aaron, Corcaigh agus Carrig abú!
(A very special word of thanks to Paul Flynn, John O’Brien and Pádraig de Búrca for the use of their brilliant photos in this slide show.)