On the 8th of April, a cool, bright, breezy day, two u14 teams set out to represent Skerries Harps in the Dublin Féile football competition with high expectations.
Our division 9 team made the journey along the M1 to hosts Scoil Ui Chonaill in Clontarf with a panel of 20 players. The first game was against the hosts with both teams evenly matched but the Harps showed great resilience to grab a well-earned goal to lead 1-3 to 0-3 at half time. In the second half the lads showed great attacking moves, each player having a part to play with some excellent scoring as they ran out 4-4 to 1-4 winners, a great start to the day! After a short break the boys faced a strong St. Brigid’s side who were refreshed after receiving a bye in the first round of games. Fatigue showed against the physical Brigid’s team who were winning most of the ball in midfield with success in front of goal which gave them a lead of 6-7 to 0-0 at the interval. Despite facing an uphill battle, the lads showed great fight and had plenty of chances in the St. Brigid’s end restricting them to no score for the whole half. The team registered a score of 2-2 and held their heads high as they competed well and won the second half. A special thank you to hosts Scoil Ui Chonaill who held a well organised competition with plenty of refreshments. Congratulations also to St. Brigids who won the Division 9 title the following day. Our lads took huge pride knowing that they had competed well and each of them played their part in the true spirit of the Féile.
The club had the great opportunity to host the Division 1 Féile as our boys came up against three giants of Dublin football in St. Sylvesters, St. Vincents and Ballyboden St. Endas while also keeping a close eye on proceedings in the other group being hosted by Kilmacud Crokes. The first test would see the lads face St. Vincents who had come up from Division 2. Both teams matched each other in the first half however Vincent’s failure to make better use of the breeze would prove costly as the teams were level at half-time. Skerries drove on and with the breeze on their side scored some well-taken points and a goal to widen the gap. Vincents pulled a goal back but a second Harps goal stopped any sort of comeback. The full-time score was a 2-12 to 1-5 win for the Harps. The lads then faced Ballyboden St. Endas, a familiar foe whom the lads had beaten to win the u12 Division 1 title two years previously. The game started with a quick pace as scores came from both sides setting up an exciting second half. Once again the Harps with the wind on their backs started to gain the upper hand winning key battles in midfield which led to a crucial goal. Another win for the Harps with a final score of 1-9 to 0-6 securing them a home semi-final. With this confirmed, the team focused on conserving energy during the final group game vs St. Sylvesters with plenty of changes made to keep the lads fresh for the challenge to come in the afternoon. Sylvesters were hungry for the win having lost their previous matches and scraped the match by two points. The lads then had a two hour break to refresh and prepare for a tough semi-final against Kilmacud Crokes who had come second in the other group while St. Vincents went away to play Na Fianna in the other semi.
At 4pm with the spring sunshine still shining brightly over the mill, the boys took to the field with great gusto. With aching limbs and many of the lads carrying injuries, this was going to be a tough test. Kilmacud started the match confidently and were up for the challenge. Scores were traded but it was the Southsiders who were on top at the break. With steely determination, Skerries fought back and eventually the ball found its way into the Crokes net. A mighty roar came from the huge crowd of supporters. Another point gave the lads the assurance they needed as the referee blew the final whistle. The Harps were through to the final!
Sunday morning dawned and the team gathered at the clubhouse ready to head to Parnell Park for the final against Na Fianna. There was an air of excitement and anticipation amongst the team and supporters. The Harps were slow to start with Na Fianna putting three points on the scoreboard before the Harps kicked into gear with points from midfield pair Seán Emmett and Eoin Thorne. The half-time score was 0-3 to 0-2 to Na Fianna. Skerries full-back Ben Jones was instrumental in keeping Na Fianna at bay with some crucial interceptions at the half’s beginning. However Na Fianna finally broke through Skerries’ stronghold. Their goal came from a nice string of passes laid into the full forward who stuck it in the net. Down by four points, it was looking bleak for the lads but their determination and spirit which the supporters had witnessed in the semi-final came through again. Joe May put over a free to leave a goal between the teams. The Harps came knocking at the Na Fianna goal as Callan Kelly sent a high ball towards captain Eoin Wilde who turned and placed past the keeper. The sides were level! Eoin followed up with a point to put Skerries ahead for the first time. However Na Fianna weren’t finished as they hit back to level once more. The clock ticked closer to full time and the possibility of extra time was nearing. Eoghan O’Connor Flanagan played a delightful ball cross field to Eoin Wilde who dribbled past three defenders to put it low into the net. The Harps supporters were ecstatic! It was a special soccer-style goal that wouldn’t look out of place in Wembley Stadium. There was to be one last Na Fianna point but it was too late. It was the Harps’ day, an historic day for the club. Another great achievement for a team destined to bring more success back to Skerries. Well done to the mentors, coaches and especially the panel of players. Every single one of them was called upon to play their part in what was a momentous weekend. They each did so with immense pride and determination, encapsulating the club’s motto “Ár neart is ár gcroithe”. The lads will now represent Dublin in the national féile.
By Seán Geoghegan
Skerries Harps Division 1: Calum Herbert, Oscar Bourke, Ben Jones, Josh Ericson, Eoin Gielty, Joe May, Callan Kelly, Seán Emmett, Eoin Wilde, Liam Cullen, Eoin Thorne, Ethan Dunne, Ronan Mulcahy, Luke Whelan, Michael Leonard, James Kenny, Calum Lynch, Roy Richardson, Greg McEneany, Ronan Geoghegan, Eoghan O’ Connor Flanagan, Conor Moore.
Division 9 Team: Arthur Sexton, Ben Burgess, Charlie Clear, Charlie Hackett, Conal O’Dowd, Conor Clinton, Darragh McDonald, Emmanuel Apara, Eoghan Lacey, Jack Carron, Jack Gibney, Matthew Concannon, Oliver McQuaid, Paddy Bracken, Seán Richardson, Tiernan Ryan, Tom Leach, Aaron Rock, Darragh McEneany, James Grimes.