Ward wants shot at glory

You may have seen it.

More than 135,000 people have to date. Two minutes and 17 seconds of gold that ends with a window being broken but prior to that, includes some of the most amazing football trick shots you’ve ever seen.

YouTube is full of such videos but whereas many of them are the products of computer geniuses rather than athletic ones, this is very definitely the real deal.

The stars of the show are Meath’s Ward brothers — Cian, Fiachra and Caolán — and their friends, Niall and Thomas O’Reilly.

Last year, inspired by the many genuine basketball trick shot videos doing the rounds, they embarked on a three-week process of practising, filming and compiling their own video of a whole range of incredible shots that involved an O’Neills football and a basketball hoop.

All four of them, from Meath senior Cian to 11-year-old Caolán, produced some ridiculous shots. There were kicks over hay sheds and kicks using spin and angles off kerbs and roofs. The end result is the same. The ball goes through the hoop.

So what possessed them? “When you have a basketball hoop, what else are you supposed to do?” responds Fiachra, who will be involved in much more serious action at Croke Park tomorrow as Meath and Mayo do battle with a place in the All-Ireland minor football final up for grabs.

“It seems like a lot of people have seen it and it’s mostly been positive feedback. We were only doing it for the craic, killing a bit if time, but we’ve got much greater feedback than I ever imagined.

“We were planning to make another one but we were too busy; too much football and so on.”

The video shows Ward is a skilful operator, like his brother. They share a high percentage of accuracy from dead balls too.

When Meath got trounced by Dublin in the Leinster final, nobody gave them a chance of beating Tyrone in the All-Ireland quarter-final. But it proved the perfect motivational tool.

“We kind of used the disappointment of that game to spur us on” says Wars. “We knew that nobody performed to their potential at all and we knew there was a performance in us.

“We were obviously very disappointed against Dublin. We knew we didn’t do ourselves justice and people didn’t give us much of a chance going into the Tyrone game. But we knew ourselves where we were at, we had played challenges against decent teams and put it up to them so we definitely believed ourselves we could win it.

“It was a very exciting finish, we got a goal with about two minutes left to put us two points ahead, so it was good to show we had a bit of character.”

Nigel Crawford and Anthony Moyles have been joining up with the squad on match day, and with big brother always providing feedback, there is no shortage of advice. It will be down to the players themselves tomorrow though and Ward knows what to expect.

“Mayo had a brilliant performance against Tipperary, who were the All-Ireland champions, and not many people would have given them a chance, so they are a very good team.”

MAYO: C O’Malley; J Geraghty, S Moran, M Plunkett; P Durcan, C Burke, K Lynch; B Mullen, A Gallagher; E Lavin, S Coen, D O’Connor; J Quinn, S Regan, S Hennelly.

MEATH: R Burlingham; D Smyth, B Power, S Gallagher; C Carton, S McEntee, S Lavin; P Harnan, A Flanagan; C O’Sullivan, J Daly, J McEntee; B Dardis, S Coogan, F Ward.


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