Hurling – A New Era
The 1970’s have experienced a new era in the hurling in Derry, with greater emphasis being placed upon the youth – particularly the U 12 and U 14 age groups. The U 12 (primary) league was inaugurated in 1974 with only three teams – Lavey, Dernaflaw and Dungiven competing at first. The following year witnessed the inclusion of Ballinascreen, Ballerin and Drumsurn. The popularity of the league is highlighted by the fact that no less then twelve teams now compete in a very successful and competitive league. Lavey have won the league for the past two seasons and are currently well placed to make it three in a row. In the 1978 season the Erin’s Own hurlers had another notable success when their U 16 team triumphed in an Ulster League against teams from Tyrone, Armagh and Derry.
In 1976 a new trophy was donated by the board to the winners of the South Derry Senior Hurling Championship, which was an innovation that year. Lavey and Slaughtneil won through to the final and after an exciting tussle in which the standard of hurling was one of Lavey’s most interested supporters that day, Fr. Packie McLaughlan, who had been recently installed as curate in the parish, was renewing an acquaintance with the team for which he himself had played some twenty years previously. Throughout his stay in Lavey Fr. McLaughlan continued to give his wholehearted support to Erin’s Own teams – both hurling and football, and indeed was one of the mentors of the triumphant ’77 football team. The club is indebted to his efforts and enthusiasm.
One name, which has always been synonymous with hurling in Lavey – from the foundations of the Shamrock’s in 1935, is Dan McCrystal (R.I.P). Not that Dan’s efforts were confined to hurling – it was that same Dan who played in goals for the very first Erin’s Own football team. However, despite giving faithful service between the sticks for Lavey, Newbridge, and Cargin. Dan’s first love was the game of hurling. Down the years he has strove through thick and thin to promote the game and maintain the hurling tradition within the parish. That this tradition has stood the test of time is a fitting reward to his efforts. Having handed over the reins of responsibility to younger and more energetic hands, Dan can feel justly proud of his contribution to hurling in both club and county.
With the approach of fifty years of hurling in Lavey the current outlook for the future is extremely encouraging. The necessary steps have now been taken to cater for the game where it is most vital – with the very young. The coaching schemes which are presently being embarked upon, allied to the enthusiasm and dedication of these youngsters, will ensure that hurling will not only continue to survive in Lavey, but will perhaps reach new heights in the not so distant future.