Top 30 Limerick sports moments of 2014

Andy Lee being crowned World champion was the top Limerick sports moment of 2014
The Limerick Leader sports team pick out the best 30 moments of 2014.

The Limerick Leader sports team pick out the best 30 moments of 2014.

1. Andy Lee crowned World champion

At 4.29am in the early hours of Sunday morning December 14, 30-year old Andy Lee was crowned WBO middleweight champion of the world. It came by way of knockout in the sixth round against Matt Korobov in Las Vegas’ Cosmopolitan Hotel.

It was a fight that had Lee as a 4/1 outsider at best. In the early rounds the Limerick man looked both tentative but yet confident. The maturity of 35 pro fights was evident in a refusal to panic as the rounds progressed. But the judges scoreboard told that Lee was certainly behind as the fight entered the sixth round.

Then all changed for as a new sporting Limerick hero was cemented when Lee produced what is now his trade-mark right hook. The KO success made Lee the first Irishman to win a world title bout in the US since 1934.

Now comes the defence on Irish soil.

2. Limerick beat Tipp in Munster championship

A first Munster SHC win in Thurles since 1973. After so many near misses down the years it was almost poetic that Limerick struck late to secure a 2-18 to 2-16 victory in this semi final tie.

Watched by 24,962 Limerick made little of their 3/1 outsider tag to open the defence of their Munster title in style. The victory for TJ Ryan’s men ensured back-to-back championship wins over Tipperary for the first time since 1995-96. Twelve months previous Limerick hit 1-18 to win by three points and this time round the men in green found 1-2 in the closing three minutes to secure a 2-18 to 2-16 victory.

Shane Dowling led the way with a Man of the Match display and a return of 2-9 (1-9frees).

The win also puts an end to any lingering worries about preparations since the post-league departure of former Cork All-Ireland winning manager Donal O’Grady as joint manager-coach. TJ Ryan assumed sole control in the aftermath of the mid-season saga and along with selectors, Paul Beary, Mark Lyons and Davy Clarke they certainly had Limerick ready for championship action.

3. Camogie Queens

What a year for Limerick camogie after a season that returned three All-Ireland championships. And, Limerick picked up three awards at the All Star gala ceremony in Dublin’s Citywest Hotel.

While Limerick won All Ireland championship honours at Minor A and Junior level the crowning glory was the All-Ireland intermediate championship win in Croke Park in September over Kilkenny.

It’s a win that sees Limerick back in the senior ranks for 2015. On the back of that success team manager Joe Quaid was last Saturday night honoured as Manager of the Year at the camogie All Star ceremony.

Also on the night Limerick duo Caoimhe Costelloe (Adare) and Niamh Mulcahy (Ahane) collected Intermediate Soaring Stars awards from President of the Camogie Association Aileen Lawlor.

4. Munster beat Toulouse in Thomond Park

Munster produced one of their best ever performances to beat Toulouse 47-23 in Thomond Park in April to book a semi-final showdown with Clermont Auvergne in the Heineken Cup.

On a magical afternoon in Thomond Park, Munster turned in a fine display to run out 24-point winners against the French aristocrats who were making their first ever visit to Limerick.

Simon Zebo and Paul O’Connell crossed in the closing minutes to wrap up a runaway six-try victory as the Irish province advanced to their 11th semi-final in 15 years.

The French giants were swept away by the relentless red tide early on, Keith Earls’ fifth-minute try helping Munster establish a 13-3 advantage. Rob Penney’s side never looked back from there. There were only four points between the sides at the break after the wind-backed Luke McAlister kicked two more penalties.

But CJ Stander, who stepped in for injured captain Peter O’Mahony, produced a dominant man-of-the-match display to power Munster through a sticky patch.

Although second-half tries from Hosea Gear and Joe Tekori reduced the arrears to 27-16, Rob Penney’s men made certain of their progress as Zebo and O’Connell followed Dave Kilcoyne and Stander over the try-line.

Munster exited the competition when going down to eventual winners Toulon at the semi-final stage in Marseilles later in April.

5. Munster minor glory again

Limerick minor hurlers retained the Munster championship title for the first time in the county’s history with a six-point victory over Waterford in a thrilling provincial final replay at Semple Stadium.

A powerful second half display helped the Shannonsiders overcome the Deise in a Munster minor final replay for the second successive year and secure the county’s seventh title in this grade in all before an attendance of 6,165. Limerick, who had let a seven-point lead slip in the drawn game, looked to be in danger of losing their crown when trailing by three points at the start of the second half. However, Brian Ryan’s side showed terrific resolve, tenacity and no shortage of hurling skill to overpower their opponents through the final quarter. Limerick were level by the 43rd minute and the back-to-back champions outscored their opponents 0-7 to 0-1 in the final quarter to secure victory, 0-24 to 0-18.

6. A Munster club final epic

For 80 minutes Kilmallock and Cratloe thrilled the 6,365 in the Gaelic Grounds and the watching thousands on the live television coverage of TG4 with a Munster club SHC final packed full of incident before the Limerick side emerged 1-32 to 3-18 winners.

Defying the time of the year, the teams produced 54 scores, a plethora of saves and misses and match defining moments in abundance. And, that’s not forgetting the game required extra time. Quite simply, it was a final to remind all what is best about hurling as a sport. Most importantly the history books will show that Kilmallock are the club hurling champions of Munster for a third time. The Limerick champions were provincial winners in 1992 and 1994 and produced a scintillating display to defy the underdogs tag and return the title to the south Limerick town. The thrilling victory ensures the Munster title stays in Limerick for the first time since 1989-90 when Ballybrown and Patrickswell won successive crowns. In just the eighth ever Munster club SHC success for Limerick, Kilmallock produced some of the finest hurling ever seen in the history of the prestigious competition. The sensational success books a February 7 All-Ireland semi-final spot against Down and Ulster champions Portaferry.

7. A Special Occasion in Limerick

The Special Olympics Opening Ceremony on a Thursday night in June was an incredible, unforgettable experience as Limerick opened its arms to welcome Special Olympic athletes.

The numbers alone give some idea of the size and success of the event: 7,000 spectators in glorious sunshine in the People’s Park; 1,500 athletes representing all 32 counties; 3,000 volunteers. Then over three days at various sporting venues around Limerick, the athletes took part in everything from golf to swimming to soccer. An occasion to remember forever.

8. An all-Limerick Harty Cup final

Last February Ardscoil Ris were crowned Dr Harty Cup champions for a third time in five years.

They were hot 1/6 favourites in this first ever all-Limerick final and proved their class with a superb second half to turn a two point lead into a 13-point victory.

The clash of the North Circular Road secondary school and Doon’s Scoil na Trionoide Naofa brought 3,514 spectators to the Gaelic Grounds and while they were not treated to an end-to-end classic it was an intriguing contest. In the end, Ardscoil proved too hot for the east Limerick secondary school, who were appearing in their first final since 1931 in the Munster senior A colleges hurling championship, to win 2-13 to 0-4.

9. Kilkenny, Croke Park and biblical-style rain

Limerick were oh so so close to just a 17th ever appearance in an All Ireland senior hurling championship final. What a display from Limerick in this All Ireland SHC semi-final in Croke Park. But once again they fell just short, 2-13 to 0-17.

But this was different to last year’s semi-final loss to Clare. This time round Limerick went toe-to-toe with all-conquering Kilkenny. TJ Ryan’s Limerick left everything out on the hallowed turf of Croke Park and just came up short. In the end of the day, Limerick scored just two points in the final 20 minutes and that ultimately won’t win many games at this level.

But still it was the two Kilkenny goals that proved decisive - just like in the Munster final defeat to Cork.

Limerick had their chances in the final stages but just couldn’t find the composure to break down a dogged Kilkenny defence.

Despite torrential rain at times, these two sides produced a breathtaking 70-minutes in front of 45,478.

10. All-Limerick Schools Cup final

Holders Crescent College faced Ardscoil Ris in the first all-Limerick final of the Munster Schools Senior Cup in its 105-year history at Thomond Park on St Patrick’s Day.

And Crescent succeeded in retaining their SEAT Munster Schools Senior Cup title for the first time in 24 years with an impressive 21-7 victory over local rivals Ardscoil Ris.

Crescent laid the foundation for their 11th Senior Cup success in the opening half after which the Dooradoyle side led 14-0 before an estimated attendance of 6,000.

Ardscoil Ris, appearing in their second final, were hoping to add the Munster Schools Senior Cup success to the Dr Harty Cup victory the school enjoyed earlier this year.

Crescent College outscored their local rivals by three tries to win, with the Dooradoyle side’s scores coming from Cormac Blake, Dylan Sheehan and Jason O’Sullivan. Out-half Fionn McGibney converted all three. Kelvin Brown bagged a consolation try for Ardscoil, which David O’Mahoney converted.

11. O’Connell leads Ireland to Six Nations glory

IN March, Limerick’s Paul O’Connell captained Ireland to their first win over France in Paris for 14 years and crucially to a first RBS Six Nations Championship title since 2009.

Ireland needed to win in the French capital for only the second time in 42 years to pip England, who also finished with four wins, on points difference.

Jonathan Sexton and Andrew Trimble scored tries for Ireland in the first half but Ireland trailed 13-12 at the break, with Brice Dulin having crossed for the hosts.

After the restart Sexton and Dimitri Szarzewski exchanged tries, Jean-Marc Doussain missed a late penalty and Damien Chouly had a last-minute try disallowed for a forward pass.

It is only Ireland’s second Six Nations title and the first since they won the Grand Slam in 2009. Captain O’Connell’s fellow Limerickman and Munster team mate Conor Murray was hugely influential for Ireland at scrum-half, making the crucial break which led to Ireland’s second try scored by Trimble.

It was a fitting way for O’Driscoll, playing his 133rd Test for Ireland and 141st in total, to go out after 15 remarkable years at the top of the game.

Two more Limerickmen, Eoin Reddan and Sean Cronin, were introduced as second half replacements, with both players making telling contributions to this precious success.

Ireland also went on to win all three of their autumn internationals in Novembers, including impressive successes over both South Africa and Australia.

12. Wexford brushed aside

What a team performance from Limerick in this All Ireland SHC quarter-final.

The Limerick senior hurlers steamrolled their way to Croke Park with a power packed first half display that swept away the challenge of Wexford, who had knocked out champions Clare. TJ Ryan’s Limerick went on a scoring spree and hit 3-15 in an opening half. In total nine players contributed to a final tally of 4-20 from open play. On that of that was the final tally of 16-wides.

All in all the number of scoring chances created shows how dominant Limerick were against a Wexford side that were predicted by many to end Limerick’s season.

It is true that Wexford had a most hectic schedule of games but credit has to go to the Limerick backroom staff and players for a most professional display. To quell the Wexford momentum Limerick had to strike early and that’s what they did to eventually win 4-26 to 1-11.

13. Irish ladies rugby take on the World

FULL-BACK Niamh Briggs, of UL-Bohemian, landed the crucial match-winning penalty goal as the Irish Womens team stunned holders New Zealand in their IRB Womens World Cup pool match in Paris in August.

Munster star Briggs, who turned in an outstanding performance, landed the decisive kick in the 70th minute to help Ireland score a thrilling 17-14 success and take a giant step towards reaching the World Cup semi-finals. The Limerick-based Garda also converted Ireland’s two tries from Heather O’Brien and Alison Miller.

It was the first time since 1991 that the Black ferns lost a Women’s World Cup match and only New Zealand’s second ever defeat in the competition.

As well as Briggs, two more UL-Bohemian players, front row forwards Fiona Coughlan, who captained the side, and hooker Gillian Bourke, played starring roles in this famous win, while their club mate Fiona Hayes was on the replacements’ bench.

Ireland missed out on a place in the World Cup final after losing out to eventual World Cup winners England at the semi-final stage.

Philip’s Doyle’s side lost out to the hosts France in the third and fourth-place play-off game in Paris, 25-18. Ireland led 15-10, with tries from Niamh Briggs and Grace Davitt, at the break but France rallied in the second half to claim third place.

14. Minors in All Ireland final day

Yet more All-Ireland final heartbreak for Limerick with this four-point loss to Kilkenny in the All-Ireland minor hurling championship final in Croke Park.

The Leinster side hit two second half goals to deny Limerick just a fourth ever All-Ireland MHC title. The 2-17 to 0-19 defeat means that the wait stretches into another year with 1984 still the last success for Limerick at U-18 level.

The loss also means that 1973 remains the last time that a Limerick intercounty hurling team was successful on All-Ireland final day in Croke Park. Limerick went into this final the 1/2 favourites but while Brian Ryan’s Limerick never reached the heights of their Munster championship success, much was down to the Kilkenny performance, which won out 2-17 to 0-19.

15. Ballynanty in FAI Junior Cup final

It was another busy year on the local soccer scene as one of the most competitive seasons came to an exciting conclusion.

One of the best stories was that of Ballynanty Rovers as they made it all the way to the FAI Junior Cup final in the Aviva Stadium.

Wins over Kennedy Park, Charleville, Southend and Hill Celtic got them out of Limerick and from there they never looked back. Glengoole, Maynooth, Carrick Utd and Liffey Wanderers were all send packing before Balla took on Dublin side Collinstown FC in an eagerly-awaited semi-final in Jackman Park. That produced a night of high drama with Balla eventually emerging victorious after penalties and extra time.

The build-up to the final was magical but Tipperary side St Michael’s proved too strong in the decider running out 4-0 winners. It was a disappointing end. But the journey itself was brilliant

16. Cheltenham double for McNamara

Croom jockey Robbie McNamara recorded a poignant second Cheltenham Festival success in the space of 24 hours in March when partnering Spring Heeled to win the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup.

Robbie’s cousin JT McNamara suffered life-changing injuries in a bad fall in the same race 12 months ago. Leading amateur Robbie McNamara had won the closing bumper on Wednesday’s card at the Cheltenham Festival in the same Dr Ronan Lambe colours on Silver Concorde.

A mistake at the last from Cause Of Causes helped Spring Heeled in his task to land the Kim Muir, giving trainer Jim Culloty another Festival winner after the heroics of Lord Windermere.

Robbie McNamara said: “We didn’t really have a game plan, Jim (Culloty) said to jump off handy in fifth or sixth but they didn’t go mad and I was happy to just lob away in front.

“From some way out I was thinking that as long as he jumped his fences it would take a good one to come and get him. I didn’t know the runner-up was behind until I was just about to land and I heard something give it a clout.

“He’d run well here before and Jim just blamed the ground the last time, without that he could have been favourite today - Jim fancied him big time.

“This is lovely, yesterday was more of a relief as I’d been trying for so long to get one here. I’ll never forget that first one but this is magic, too.”

17. Munster hurling final day at the Pairc

Twelve months after the elation of being crowned Munster champions for the first time in 17 years there was provincial final heartbreak for Limerick after a 2-24 to the 0-24 defeat to Cork. TJ Ryan led his Limerick team to Pairc Ui Chaoimh bidding to retain the Munster SHC title for the first time since 1980-’81.

But it was not to be for Limerick as this last ever Munster championship encounter in the Leeside stadium was decided by two second half Cork goals. That was after the Munster rivals were dead-locked 0-12 each after a pulsating first half.

In front of 36,075, all changed in the 53rd minute when 0-18 each - Cork struck the all-important first goal. In the first 20 minutes when Limerick played outstanding hurling. But crucially as good and all as Limerick were they should have had a greater tally on the scoreboard after ultimately paid the price.

18. Kilmallock’s classic win on home ground

What a game and more importantly, what a game to win for Kilmallock - Kilmallock 3-22, Sarsfields (Cork) 3-20 after extra-time. Twenty years after their 1994 Munster club SHC title, The Balbec returned to a provincial decider.

And, they booked their final spot against Clare’s Cratloe in some style with a pulsating extra time victory over favourites Sarsfields. When their backs were to the wall, Kilmallock were at their best and Ger O’Loughlin’s men produced a performance full of power and passion.

Kilmallock found two points in the dying seconds to finally see of the Cork champions after a thrilling contest that produced 48 scores over the course of 80-odd minutes.

The two sides defied the November conditions to produce a heart-warming contest for an official attendance of 2,876 in Fitzgerald Park in Kilmallock and the watching thousands on TG4 television.

19 Pat Buckley leads the way at the dogs

Not for the first time Doon native Pat Buckley was the toast of the Limerick greyhound community when he trained Paradise Silva to victory in the 2014 Kerry Agribusiness Irish St Leger final in Limerick in late November.

The Cappawhite based trainer won with the favourite for the Jarne-Davis-McElligott syndicate. It was a special win for Buckley, who was adding the 2014 success at the Dock Road stadium to his 2004 win with Never Give Up for Adare’s Padraig Heffernan in the old Markets Field venue.

In June Buckley had the favourite in the final of the English Derby. Although now owned by Spanish and English businessmen, Mind The Net is trained by Pat Buckley.

The Limerick dog was sent of the clear favourite but victory went to 16-1 outsider Salad Dodger, who claimed the £200,000 winner’s cheque. Mind The Net ended up in fifth spot after failing to emerge in contention from the first bend. Mind The Net was bred, owned and initially trained by Declan Murphy in Hospital.

20. Historic ladies win for Murroe-Boher

On the last weekend of November Murroe-Boher were crowned All Ireland ladies football junior club champions.

It brought an end to a most remarkable season that saw them win all 18 games they played under manager Noel Regan.

In the final they beat St Ciarans of Roscommon in Duggan Park in Ballinasloe. 3-11 to 1-1.

“It was just our day today. The girls were brilliant all through the game, we had a game plan using the same style of football that we’ve worked with all year and I thought that the girls were absolutely outstanding, from one to twenty four, in the way that they applied themselves,” said a jubilant Regan.

21. Castletroy win All Ireland Junior Cup

Castletroy Golf Club celebrated their first All-Ireland Junior Cup success in 42 years in September following a stunning victory over Leinster champions Castle Golf Club at Carton House.

Munster kingpins Castletroy produced a storming comeback on the back nine to earn a famous 3 ½ to 1 ½ win in the prestigious final.

Points from Jonathan McDonnell in the top match - when the UCD student produced a stuning run of golf, winning the last four holes of his match to record a one-hole victory - Brendan Reidy and Michael Murphy, along with a half point from Keith Bermingham, guided the Limerick side to success.

Colm Geary, brother of former Limerick hurler Brian Geary, who was an impressive winner of his semi-final match against Athenry GC the previous day, lost his final match 2/1.

Afterwards the Junior Cup was presented to the victorious side by GUI President Liam Martin, a member of Castletroy Golf Club.

Junior Cup ties comprise of five singles matches, with a handicap limit of 5 and upwards from the previous year. Six players featured for Castletroy in all over the course of the competition with Cillian O’Muineachain featuring in the area final against East Clare in Ennis and later in the Munster finals in Shannon.

22. Ballylanders back on top

Once again the Limerick SFC final was brought to Newcastle West from the traditional Gaelic Grounds. Making the occasion all the more unique was the novel final pairing of Ballylanders and St Patricks.

Ephie Fitzgerald’s side won 2-8 to 1-. It was a first Limerick SFC success for the south Limerick men since 2007 and their fourth crown in total. The final was the first since 1999 that no west Limerick club had contested the decider and what a final these two clubs served up. Watched by 2,565 in splendid October sunshine the football was end-to-end and remarkably all 18 scores came from play. Ultimately a goal in either half ensured the Fr Casey Cup returned to Ballylanders.

23. Munster beat Saracens in European Cup

Munster took control of European Rugby Champions Cup Pool 1 with a 14-3 victory over Saracens at Thomond Park in October.

Anthony Foley’s men had been fortunate to grab a last-gasp victory at Sale in week one, but looked much more like two-time former European champions on home soil.

Ian Keatley kicked two penalties and a drop-goal for the hosts, but the crucial moment came mid-way through the second half after Sarries’ Rhys Gill was sin-binned for a tip-tackle.

Andrew Conway looked to have scored in the corner with a fine finish, but his effort was inexplicably chalked off by the TMO. However Munster already had a penalty and after kicking for touch, replacement prop Dave Kilcoyne was driven over from the resulting lineout.

Saracens barely threatened the Munster line and had to settle for a solitary Owen Farrell penalty in the first half; missing out on even a losing bonus point.

Munster subsequently lost their back-to-back Champions Cup clashes with Clermont Auvergne in December and need to win their remaining two pool fixtures to retain any hope of making the knock-out stages of the competition.

24. Thomond promoted to AIL 2A

On the local club front, Thomond celebrated promotion to Division 2A of the All-Ireland League after scoring a thrilling 14-10 play-off victory over Highfield at Woodleigh Park in April.

Thomond’s prospects looked bleak when they fell 10-0 behind to the Cork side who had finished third-from-bottom in Division 2A. However, the Brendan Guilfoyle-coached Thomond side fought back superbly with full-back Dermot Fitzgerald crossing for a crucial try which he also converted. A second Thomond try from Darragh Payne, again converted by Ballynanty Rovers soccer star Fitzgerald, saw Thomond hit the front.

The royal blues, unfortunate to miss out on automatic promotion on mere points difference on the final day of the regular season, retained their four-point lead to the final whistle, much to the delight of their large band of travelling support.

Thomond have made an encouraging start to life in 2A and claimed the Limerick Charity Cup at the start of the season.

25. Geraldines reach Munster Junior final

In recent years Pike Rovers, Janesboro and Carew Park have led the way for the local city soccer sides but Geraldines have stepped up to the top table too and last season they went all the way to the Munster Junior Cup final.

Indeed the Garryowen club had a good run in both main cup competitions - and their task was made all the more difficult by the bizarre sequence of away games they were drawn in. Their seven-game trip to the Munster Junior Cup final saw them beat Kennedy Park, Mungret Regional, Summerville, Avondale, Ennistymon and Regional Utd and they didn’t have far to travel for the final. Jackman Park was the venue and Tipperary giants St Michael’s were the opposition. That’s where the fun ended though. In a hard-fought clash in horrible weather conditions, St Michael’s held on for a 1-0 win. Geraldines wait for a first Munster Junior Cup title since 1979 goes on.

26. Fitzgibbon Cup drama in UL

Last February UL were favourites to win the Fitzgibbon Cup before they were ambushed by city rivals LIT in the quarter-final in UL’s own grounds, 2-16 to 1-13.

Credit must go to LIT manager Davy Fitzgerald for a tactical masterclass from the moment they surprised all by arriving fully togged-out onto the pitch through the bushes from the main road in Plassey to the final whistle. The Limerick derby drew a large crowd to UL and a superb individual performance from Hurler of the Year Tony Kelly propelled LIT into the semi-final against Waterford IT.

27. Christmas Cracker in Thomond Park

In some ways Munster and Leinster games aren’t what they used to be. The recent clash between Ireland’s two great rugby rivals saw both sides without their frontline internationals but we still witnessed a ferocious clash between two teams with plenty to prove. Munster were on the back of a three-game losing streak, Leinster appear to be regressing at an alarming rate.

In front of a full house on St Stephen’s Day, Munster led the way from the start and a well-taken try from the ever-impressive CJ Stander set the tone and had Munster ahead at the break. Dave O’Callaghan and Andrew Conway crossed in the second and while Leinster rallied late on, Munster were comfortable 28-13 winners. A fine end to another eventful year.

28. World Club 7s in Limerick

Rugby in the summer in Ireland is always a hard sell but the inaugural Limerick World Club 7s in Thomond Park was a hugely enjoyable event and should become a regular date in the sporting calendar.

Twelve teams from around the world took part - including big names like the South African Blue Bulls, Auckland and NSW Waratahs as well as teams from Moscow, New York, Vancouver and San Francisco. Munster were the local representatives and fielded a team of academy and development players along with some of the senior squad like Gerhard van den Heever and Ronan O’Mahony.

Three wins in the pool stages on the Saturday of the event - when a crowd of 10,000 made their way to Thomond Park - helped Munster into the quarter-finals but they went down to a 12-10 defeat to eventual champions, Fijian side Deveta. In the playoff games, Munster claimed a 7th place finish. Enough to improve on for 2015 but a good occasion all round.

29. Another Great Limerick Run

The Great Limerick Run has established itself as one of the most positive local events in Limerick and the May Bank Holiday weekend in the city is much better for its presence.

A huge number of local people have taken part over the last five years while it has also brought plenty of visitors to the area - from far and wide. This year’s race was another great occasion as over 12,000 pounded the city’s streets - in the 10k, half marathon and full marathon. Many more lined the route offering encouragement. Kenyan runner Lezan Kimutai triumphed in the marathon, with a time of two hours, 25 minutes and five seconds. In addition, Irish athletes Gary O’Hanlon and Phillip Harty finished second and third respectively, while Pauline Curley of Tullamore was the first woman to finish.

30. Gilgamboa signals his intent

The Limerick Christmas Racing Festival is another great staple on the local sports scene and this year’s St Stephen’s Day meeting really got the four-day event off to a great start for local trainers, owners and jockeys.

Rathkeale trainer Eric McNamara had the winner of the first race, a 2M3F Maiden Hurdle, with the 11/8 shot High in the Clouds. Cullen trainer Eamon O’Connell had the winner of the second and while Willie Mullins took the third wit Urana in a Mares Maiden Hurdle, the locals took the fourth race - the Shannon Airport Novice Chase - when Gilgamboa romped home for JP McManus, Enda Bolger and Mark Walsh. Cheltenham is well within their radar now and Gilgamboa is 6/1 for the JLT Novice Chase.