Adventure that will help bond newly formed team
IT was back in April we learned we qualified for the hurling Feile by winning our group by advancing past Bray Emmet’s in the final.
Our new amalgamated club North Wicklow Gaels (Kilcoole and Greystones), spent the next few months fundraising and training for the Féile na nGael, where all the parents put in a huge effort to raise money for the event.
Finally, on Friday, June 8, we lined up to get the bus to Oran in Roscommon, although the journey was uneventful any tension was alleviated by the craic on the bus.
On arrival in Oran our first match was against Claremorris from Co Mayo, at 5pm. While the first half was tight with a close score at half time but a first win of 1-6 to 1-3 settled the team.
The second match of the day was against South Kerry which was a highly tense game as reported by the spectators as we were losing at half-time, we managed to turn it around and win against a very strong side as we would discover later.
The final score of 0-8 to 1-2 was fantastic given we were trailing at half-time.
After the game the club hosted us for a great meal in the Oran clubhouse where we had the chance meet our host families for the weekend, which we did on the pitch after the food.
We were all excited on the way down to see what our host families were like and we were relieved as all the host families were very welcoming and kind to us, they all had hurlers our own age and we quickly became friends even thought we had to play the Oran team in the morning.
Saturday at 10.45am we were playing Oran in their home grounds but we were happy that many of our parents had come down for the game to support us.
It was once again a very close game up until half-time but we pulled away in the second half to win 4-06 to 1-04 which put us into the quarter-finals of the cup and our host club into the quarter finals of the shield.
The second match that day was at 3.30 in Gaels community pitch, the first of our many ground changes. The game before us featured a victory for Wolf Tone which we probably should have paid more attention to had we realised. The score at half-time was 3-02 1-04 to Northern Gaels which reflected a tight game.
In the second half one of our forwards, Willie Cash, was downed by a dangerous challenge by one of the Dunboyne players which resulted in a red card and his sending off.
Willie played on in the second half but unfortunately later that night he had to retire from the competition due to his injury and he was missed the next day. The final score was 4-06 to 1-06 for Northern Gaels and we secured our place in the semi-finals.
That night we celebrated at the barbeque and disco hosted in Oran hall for players, coaches and families of hurlers and camogie players, we received a nice presentation clock from our hosts in Oran. The food was great, we made lots of new friends from the other clubs.
Unfortunately, our hosts Oran lost to St Vincent’s the next day in the Shield semi-final in Ballinamore before our semi-final game against Wolf Tone, the score at half-time was 1-01 to 0-02 to Northern Gaels. It was even for most of the second half, however Sean Byrne knocked over the winning point for Northern Gaels to give us place in the final with a one-point margin. Final score: 1-02 to 0-04 to Northern Gaels.
We had to race over to Páirc Seán Mac Diarmada, Carrick-on-Shannon, from Ballinamore for a 2.30pm throw-in against the Longford Slashers fresh from their victory over South Kerry.
It was a very tough match with Longford ahead at half-time by one point, which unfortunately ended in defeat 0-7 to 0-3 to the Longford Slashers. It was a crushing defeat to take, but the team are determined to learn from it and move forward.
In general, it was a close tournament full of hard fought games with all teams putting everything in to win, we showed we have the skill and commitment that is not matched by many.
The weekend helped to cement the newly formed team and we are looking forward to a great summer season with a stronger and more cohesive unit. None of this would have been possible without the commitment and dedication of our coaches Karl Cooke, Patrick (Pappy) Frawley, Diarmuid Potts and helper Owen O’Mahony.
The Northern Gaels team and mentors.