Going back through the records of Tooreen Hurling Club underage over the past two decades shows up three successful U16 teams who between them make up the majority of the current Tooreen Senior hurling panel which have brought great glory to the club in recent years. The Connacht U16 Club competition of the time pitted the Champions of Mayo, Roscommon, Sligo and Leitrim – along with the U16B Champions of Galway. These three Tooreen teams went onto win their respective Connacht titles and would give great confidence to the club in showing a pattern of success against teams from the so called stronger counties.
The 2005 Connacht U16 hurling final pitted Tooreen against Beagh from Galway, a game which was played in Ballyhaunis GAA Grounds. Tooreen were running out relatively comfortable winners in this encounter – so much so that the South Galway side withdrew their team of players from the field with 5 minutes remaining in the game. The title was deservedly awarded to Tooreen as players like Cathal Freeman, Kenny Feeney and Michael Morley got their first taste of provincial success – something they would repeat multiple times in their future careers. Other notable players on this team were Ciaran Charlton, Joey Ganley, Conor English and Alan Freeman - who would go on to play Senior for Tooreen also in the not too distant future. Current senior selector Dom Greally was the manager of this team in 2005, with selector Willie Stenson alongside.
The U16 side of 2011 was the next to taste provincial success with a new bunch of talented hurlers spearheaded by Fergal Boland and David Kenny. The side was managed by Austin Kenny (current club secretary) and Marty Harrison, and would go on to produce eight hurlers for the current senior team of 2022. This side had the honour of winning the Connacht U16 title on home turf, as Ahascragh/Fohenagh were put to the sword this time in Tooreen. Other players of note from this crop were David Harrison, Davog Freyne, Niall Robinson and Daniel Cunnane – while a very young Sean Kenny and Brian Morley were learning their trade and planning their futures from the bench.
Three years later in 2014, the same opposition – Ahascragh/Fohenagh – travelled to the Connacht GAA Centre of Excellence for the finale. This Tooreen squad – managed by Nick Freyne, Austin Kenny and Paul Squires – again came of age as they cemented the Tooreen underage conveyor of talent with another Connacht U16 title. This vintage propelled nine players to the current Senior panel with the aforementioned Sean Kenny and Brian Morley taking on more advanced roles this time around. John Cassidy, Daniel Huane, Bobby Douglas, Eoin Delaney, Paddy Lyons, Shane Crinnegan and Cillian English were also forerunners on this side and now together form a third of the current Tooreen Senior Hurling Panel.
So as can be seen, this was a golden decade of underage hurling in Tooreen – with the ultimate product being a team of players which had the ability and confidence to bring a small club to Croke Park on club All-Ireland finals day. Great credit must go to the mentors, coaches and club officers of the time, who unknowns’ to themselves, were providing the building blocks for a Senior team of a lifetime within the club.