Skerries Harps under 14 boys footballers, sponsored by Moriarty’s SuperValu, took the honours in the Division One Feile na Peil in Garvaghy, Co Tyrone with a wonderful display of skill, stamina and honest effort. The challenge of being pitched with the cream of Donegal, Tyrone, Derry, Down, Antrim and Meath football was met full on by Harps panel who entertained the travelling supporters with some stunning football and took home silverware from a prestigious football tournament again following their success in the 2014 Colm Cooper Tournament in Killarney.
The morning began bright and early at the sparkling new Harps Clubhouse as the 21-strong panel assembled and a number of boys who came along to support their team-mates. As we headed out the M1 the talk was about the competition and the various Clubs we were due to face with some very high profile names in GAA circles and the lads we were missing due to holidays – a daunting task lay in store. The Boys in Blue arrived in Garvaghy to be met by the impressive Tyrone GAA HQ facilities and immediately hit the all-weather pitch in their full Féile attire to stretch the legs whilst the adults headed for the coffee dock.
First up, Naomh Conaill from Donegal providing a stern test with Harps a point up at half-time having played with the breeze and the hill. The half forward line of Sean Campbell, Clinton Opara and David Boyd were in fine form and their running game resulted in some fine scores for the seasiders. Having withstood early second half pressure, with Paul Wilde continuously leading from centre back and midfield, the lads discipline and skill began to tell and they ran out comfortable winners in the end.
Next up, a strong Bredagh team from South Belfast who had won their first match in comfortable fashion. Harps made great use of the strong breeze and hit the front early with two spectacular goals from Adam Fearon. Brian Brennan and Adam El-Shamy held the Down men scoreless with some tenacious tackling. Matthew Dooley won mighty ball around the half forward, linking up with full forward Daniel O Driscoll who continuously hit the score-sheet all day. Harps never relinquished their lead and scoring six goals in the process for a great win and now beginning to believe this could be their day.
Skerries final qualifying match, with only 10 minute breaks between matches, was against Ballinascreen, the Derry Féile Champions and this one went to the wire. A great battle early-on saw Harps hold a slender lead at half time. Young Aidan Coleman, after a hard week pickin’ spuds, dominated at midfield. “Stand-in” full back, Cian Mullarkey held the tide of attacks all day to protect the Harps from conceding goals The blues hit the ground running in the second half with two goals from Liam “The Goal Machine” Byrne to put a comfortable distance between the sides, but the Derry lads had their sights on the final too. With Skerries legs tiring, they conceded two late goals to put a single point between the teams but the skill and determination of Finn Chatten, Eoin Winters and Conor Nulty at half back steadied the ship before Harps finished out with a free-kick to win by two and qualified for an Ireland Féile final – a mighty achievement but heart-stopping stuff !!
The fans were escorted to the main arena in Garvaghy for a Dublin v Meath, Leinster final showdown with Walterstown the other finalists. Harps set the pace early on, playing against a stiff breeze but the Royals settled down. Two of our smallest men on the pitch, David Duffy and Alan Joyce won several vital balls as part of a brave display by both in the full back line against very strong opposition. Harps leading at half time 1-3 to 0-5.
Then the Meath men upped the gears and rocked the sea-siders with a quick point and a quality goal to leave Harps trailing by 3 points with 12 minutes to go. The roar of the Meath crowd, a couple of injuries and looking flat out on their feet - the omens were not looking good for the North County Dublin lads. Eoghan Mc Donald made a magnificent save to keep the Harps alive as we came under severe pressure.
However, these lads are well travelled, even for 13/14 year olds, and having soaked up a pressure period, they took control of the game again with their last throw of the dice. Robert Delaney, kicked two hugely important frees to keep Harps scoreboard ticking over before he added a goal as part of an avalanche of scores in the next five minutes. Emmet Trant, ever dependable to score in a final, added another before Jack Drumm kicked a fine solo effort to ensure Harps were crowned All Ireland Regional Féile Champions for 2015.
Adam Fearon accepted the winning trophy on behalf of the Skerries team, presented by the Ulster GAA Council. A great achievement played with plenty of open skilful football and all players getting plenty of game-time. These lads did their Club, town and county proud.
Thanks to the following lads from the panel who came to support us and their cheering and help all day was really appreciated – Conor Waddilove, Conor Kinsella, Colin Mikulan, Ben Browne, David Mellowes & Dara Earley
The huge effort all day and the long drive back home was rewarded by a noisy and colourful escort by the local Gardai into our beautiful hometown of Skerries where the lads were enthusiastically received by many local admirers acknowledging our great achievement . And then…. we retired to where it all started with a presentation and reception, where-else but in the Harps clubhouse.
A great day – well done lads!!
Results : Skerries Harps 6-3 Naomh Conaill, Dun na nGall 1-9
Skerries Harps 6-5 Bredagh, An Dún 0-1
Skerries Harps 2-6 Ballinascreen, Doire 2-4
Final Skerries Harps 6-9 Walterstown, An Mhí 1-5
Skerries Harps 2015 Féíle Football Panel :
Eoghan Mc Donald, David Duffy, Harry Archer, Rory Garland, Matt Dooley, Paul Wilde, Finn Chatten, Adam Fearon, Clinton Opara, Matthew Kelly, Robert Delaney, Daniel O Driscoll, Brian Brennan, Aidan Coleman, Alan Joyce, Tiernan Wilde, Emmet Trant, Zach Webb, Darragh Smith, Adam El Shamy, Eoin Winters, Cian Mullarkey, Liam Byrne, Sean Campbell, Conor Nulty, David Boyd, Mikey Joyce, Ben Browne, Colin Mikulan, Jacob Grimes, Robert Kenny, Conor Kinsella, Conor Waddilove, Sean Maguire, Daragh Early, Adam Wynne, Jack Drumm, David Mellowes, Daragh Archbold, Naoise Gilmore, Daragh Mullarkey, James Casey & Aaron Walsh
Mentors & Coaches: Joe Kelly, Thomas Connolly, Brian Trant, Gary Levins, Eoghan Mc Ginley, Paul Cashman & Pat Delaney