Wednesday, June 14th 2006 was an historic day for the island of Inishbofin. It was the first time that a Primary Schools Championship Qualifier was ever held here. The hosting of this event on the beautiful island was made possible by the recent construction of a full-sized community football pitch within a stone’s throw from the local primary school. The sun was bursting from the heavens as the ‘Island Discovery’ boat pulled into the harbour at 10:30am, carrying the eager children and teachers from a number of primary schools on the mainland. First off the boat was the local doctor, Ciaran McLoughlin, in to do his usual Wednesday rounds on Inishbofin and not knowing what hit him! The teams were met by one of the teachers from the local school and directed to the football pitch. It was a loud and lively affair up the ‘Pound Road’.
The matches kicked off without delay under the management of Paul Gannon of Eagles Nest N.S. who was also the referee for the boys’ competition. Tom King of Rossadilisk, former Principal of Ballyconneely N.S was entrusted with the running of the girls’ qualifier. The following schools participated on the day: Derryglin (Oughterard GAA and Killannin LGFA), Cleggan/Claddaghduff and Kingstown (Naomh Feichin GAA and Grainne Mhaols LGFA), Eagles Nest and Tully (Renvyle GAA and Grainne Mhaols LGFA), Scoil Bhriocáin, Rosmuc (Na Piarsaigh GAA and Na Piarsaigh LGFA). The closely fought Boys’ Final between Derryglin (the eventual winners) and Kingstown saw both these teams through to the finals in Clonbur the following Monday. Inishbofin NS and Rosmuc were the other two teams who got through to the semi-finals. In the Girls’ Final, Scoil Bhriocáin, Rosmuc beat Cleggan/Claddaghduff in a very competitive match.
It was great to see how much the children enjoyed the day. New friends were made and bonds were formed with other schools. Phone numbers (and lunches!) were exchanged. The players all shook hands at the end of every match. I would like to extend a special word of thanks to all the voluntary helpers on the days leading up to this event. These include, the Inishbofin NS Board of Management who purchased two sets of primary sized goal posts, Simon Murray, Development Officer who mowed the grass, his helpers who flagged the field, the staff of the Community Centre for the use of their facilities, the teachers in the local school who helped to co-ordinate the event, and of course, Paul Gannon, the main organiser of the event.
Written by Annette O’Shea.