Ireland’s top young hurlers, camogie players, and handball competitors will be in Galway this weekend for the prestigious Feile na nGael u-14 tournament.
It is the first time since 1993 that Galway has hosted the event.
Well-known clubs such as Ballygunner, Wolfe Tones, Na Piarsaigh, Kilmacud Crokes, Birr and O’Loughlin Gaels, along with representatives from all the other counties of Ireland, will be hosted by clubs in the west.
The action kicks off tomorrow when a crowd of up to 10,000 people is expected in Loughrea for the traditional Feile parade.
The traditional parade begins at 7.30pm from St Brendan’s GAA Club, and will be preceded by a presidential address from Christy Cooney at 7.15pm. MC for the parade will be renowned commentator Micheal O’Muircheartaigh. Feile organisers advise that traffic restrictions will be in place in the town.
The skills competition will take place at 12 noon on Saturday in Athenry. The weekend culminates with the Feile finals taking place at Pearse Stadium and the Prairie on Sunday. The division one and two finals take place at 12 noon and 1pm, while the division three, four and five finals will be held in the pitch adjacent to Pearse Stadium.
The handball finals are scheduled to take place on Sunday at the Pearse Stadium handball alley, as well as in Moycullen, commencing at 11am.
Galway clubs will be hoping to continue the success they have enjoyed at this competition throughout the years. Turloughmore are the current holders of the Christy Ring trophy after getting the better of Na Piarsaigh last June in Ennis. Loughrea have also claimed the trophy when they defeated Turloughmore in 1993.
Other Galway clubs to have claimed divisional titles at Feile na nGael include Annaghdown, Carnmore, Abbey-Duniry, Killimor and Mountbellew-Moylough.
Camogie was introduced to Feile in 1974 with Rathnure of Wexford the first winners of the Corn Ui Phuirseil trophy, but Galway have brought nine titles west of the Shannon since. Pearses have won three titles, with Sarsfields and Mullagh claiming two each, while Athenry and St Colman’s have also tasted success. Davitts and Pearses have also claimed division two titles, while Mountbellew were the division three winners in 1993.
St Judes (Dublin ), Cahir (Tipperary ), St Martin’s (Wexford ), Courcey Rovers (Cork ), Thomastown (Kilkenny ) and Loughgiel Shamrocks (Antrim ) will be participating at this year’s Feile.
Handball is also an integral part of the underage festival and many Galway clubs wll be participating, including Abbeyknockmoy, Annaghdown, Micheal Breathnachs, Ballinasloe, Claregalway, Mountbellew-Moylough, Inis Oirr, Inis Mor, Moycullen, Salthill and Williamstown.
Leixlip, Kells, Kilworth, Clooney Quinn and Newmarket on Fergus are among the outside clubs taking part in the handball competitions
The Feile festival is regarded as the highlight of the underage calendar since the first festival was held in Tipperary in 1971, a competition that was the brainchild of former GAA president, Seamus Ryan. Sixty four teams participated in the inaugural competition with Cork’s Blackrock defeating Eoghan Ruadh of Dublin in the prestigious A final.
For further information log on to www.feilenangael2011.gaa.ie for fixture details. All results will also be available on the official Feile website immediately after the games.
• City club Cumann Iomanaiochta Rathun-An Chaislean Nua will be hosting Naomh Eoin Hurling Club (Sligo ) and St Feichin’s Hurling Team (Louth ) in this year's Feile. Rathun-An Chaislean Nua will host a total of five group games in Thonabrucky.
The weekend will begin with a match in Thonabrucky pitch on Friday at 3pm between Rahoon Newcastle and Naomh Eoin, while Saturday’s action starts at 10am when Naomh Eoin
and Michael Breathnachs meet. That match will be followed by fixtures between St Feichin’s and Rahoon-Newcastle at 11am, Rahoon-Newcastle and Michael Breathnachs at 12.15pm. and finally Naomh Eoin and St Feichin’s at 1.15pm.