THE St Colum’s U14 footballers enjoyed a very successful experience at the Féile earlier this summer.
The Kealkil-based club had a productive tournament in Mayo as they secured a safe passage out of their group, before they ultimately exited the prestigious football tournament at the quarter-final stages. Qualifying for the tournament represented a huge achievement for the progressive club. Indeed it represented their first time competing in the Feile competition.
Their club coach Emmet Vaughan was proud.
“The Féile experience is undoubtedly something special and especially for a small club from a small community. We had never qualified for an All-Ireland Féile before. It’s like the Irish soccer team qualifying for a World Cup. You don’t realise how big and special it is until you are involved in it."
Competing in the annual Féile tournament was a surreal experience for their players and coaches who loved every minute of their experience.
The noise, colour, passion and atmosphere generated throughout the weekend will live long in the memories of all those associated with the St Colum’s.
“The joy is really in the experience and the honour of representing your county against different parts of the country and beyond. This year’s football féile had teams from afar as New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Western Australia. Winning local West Cork and county league and championship titles are always celebrated, but the Féile odyssey is a truly unique experience.”
St Colum’s U14s were fortunate that they got to compete in both this year’s Feile football and hurling tournaments. They won their county section which enabled them represent Cork in the football tournament, while they played host in the hurling tournament.
“There were 13 divisions in Féile Peil na nÓg and 10 divisions in Féile na nGael with us competing in Division five in both which was really a remarkable achievement for a club of our size. Panel restrictions of 24 players didn’t affect us, as we competed with a panel of 18 which included a few U12 players. We got out of our group in both competitions, but unfortunately we lost out at the quarter-final stage in both.”
Reaching the last eight of both competitions was a remarkable feat for this relatively small, but very progressive and ambitious club.
“In hurling we lost to a very strong Four Roads team from Roscommon who brought Bandon to extra-time in the final. In the football, we lost out to Eglish of Tyrone. They are the home club of the late Cormac McAnallen. They subsequently went on to win the competition.
"Our game with Eglish was very similar to our narrow county semi-final and final wins over Erin’s Own and Na Piarsaigh respectively. All of those were tight games, but this time we were on the wrong side of the result. We were initially disappointed and felt we could have gone further, but quickly reflected that we could just as easily have lost those games in Cork and wouldn’t have had the experience we had.”
Huge numbers of supporters, parents and club personnel followed the Saints.
“We are immensely proud of what this group have achieved. They have represented the club with great distinction. The lads played in 14 Féile games this year and they won 11 of them. It is no guarantee of future success, but we are hopeful that the memories and camaraderie developed over a summer of Féile will propel them onto future success. We are also hopeful their exploits will inspire our younger groups to bring us back to Féile in the future.”
TSt Colum’s were indebted to their many sponsors and club members.
“The costs of going to Féile are not small and the club would like to thank all in the community who helped meet the financial cost of the trip. We have a very good and supportive community who provide great help and goodwill towards the club at all times.
"In the weeks and months in advance of the Féile tournament, we had a quiz night and parents organised the sale of tea and coffee at all various club games. The goodwill in the community was fantastic with numerous individuals involved which is gratefully appreciated. Many organisations and businesses donated very generously to meet the cost. The team travelled up with Cremin Coaches. Cremin Coaches are one of the club’s main sponsors and we thank Cremin Coaches for their continued support of the club.”