‘Something I will never for­get’

Wicklow People (West Edition) - - SPORT - STEPHEN O’TOOLE Féile diary

MY name is Steven O’Toole and this is my Féile ex­pe­ri­ence . It all started in 2018 when we were sit­ting in the dress­ing room. We got beaten that day in the ‘B’ Féile fi­nal, but as a group of play­ers we de­cided that next year was go­ing to be different.

Fast for­ward to 2019, I was thrilled to be made captain. We trained very hard from Fe­bru­ary and worked our way back to the ‘B’ Féile fi­nal where we made up for the heartache of last year. I was so de­lighted to lift the shield.

Along came June 28 when we headed off to Leitrim with great hope of do­ing well and mak­ing loads of friends.

We met at the school and got a fan­tas­tic send off. The ban­ter and craic on the bus jour­ney was great, we even got ‘Susie’ (Eu­gene O’Brien) singing.

We ar­rived at Bal­li­namore for our Fri­day evening games. Our first match was against Mac Diar­mada Gaels of Bal­li­namore. Maybe it was the bus jour­ney but we didn’t seem to get go­ing at all an un­for­tu­nately came out on the wrong score line with a seven-point loss. I was hop­ing that the feel­ing from 2018 wouldn’t come back.

We de­cided to get ourselves in gear and make this Féile ours. Our sec­ond match was against JK Brack­ens of Tip­per­ary, which we played very well and had a 14-point win.

We then went on to Mo­hill, Co. Leitrim, to our host club, where we had a BBQ, a fun penalty shootout and then met the fam­i­lies. My­self and Alex headed off with a lovely fam­ily, they made us feel so wel­come. I don’t think I ever had as much pizza in my life.

Satur­day morn­ing came and it it was game changer in our Féile. We played Mo­hill, our hosts, who had won their two games and were favourites to win this one too.

We played as a team and never gave up, we de­fied the odds and won by five points. Three teams fin­ished on four points but we lost out on the cup com­pe­ti­tion on scores con­ceded.

The Shield was now our tar­get. The quar­ter-fi­nal was against Calry/St Joseph’s of Sligo which we won well set­ting us up for a Sun­day morn­ing semi-fi­nal slot.

So, it was back to Mo­hill to get cleaned up and to have some craic at the Com­mu­nity Cen­tre. On Sun­day morn­ing we faced St Joseph’s of West­meath. This was a hard game and it took us ex­tra-time to de­feat them, my con­tri­bu­tion was to score a goal against the wind in ex­tra-time to break the St Joseph’s re­sis­tance.

My room-mate, Alex, added a sec­ond goal and we were in heaven and in an All-Ire­land fi­nal, with a chance of me be­ing an All-Ire­land captain.

Adare of Lim­er­ick were the only team in our way and what a bat­tle we had. We gave it ev­ery­thing and won by a point, we were All-Ire­land cham­pi­ons, and I lifted the Shield to roars of de­light from the team and sup­port­ers.

It is ev­ery player’s dream to be captain of a Féile team, but to be captain of an All-Ire­land Féile team is something spe­cial and something I will never for­get.

The par­ents and sup­port­ers we had in Leitrim were fan­tas­tic, the home­com­ing too was fan­tas­tic, we were lead in to Aughrim behind a squad car, we had a piper march us through the town with hundreds of peo­ple com­ing out to see us.

What a huge sur­prise and what a week­end!

Aughrim captain Steven O’Toole lifts the Shield.

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