‘Something I will never forget’
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.