The Primary Schools football competitions have been radically restructured and reorganised in recent years by the Cumann na mBunnscol County Committee. This committee, made up exclusively of teachers, was established four years ago to ensure that all County Galway primary schools would get a chance to compete at a level appropriate to their size. Accordingly, schools were divided into 7-a-side, 9-a-side, 11-a-side, 13-a-side, and 15-a-side competitions, and a number of groups were created within these categories, based on geographical location. This ensured that no long distances had to be travelled, and that there would be several regional finals as distinct from one county final, in accordance with the committee’s philosophy that regional success for several teams, is ultimately far better than outright success for a few.
Scoil Mhuire, Clifden, competed in Group E (13-a-side), winning four out of six matches and they were unlucky not to reach the final. All the other West Connemara schools competed in the 7-a-side. While Ardmór defeated Ballyconneely in one of the semi finals, Ardthiar and Letterfrack had to go to a replay with the latter eventually triumphing by 4-5 to 3-5. Elsewhere, Tully National School saw off Lettergesh 7-7 to 5-5, and Eagles Nest beat Cleggan/Claddaghduff 8-17 to 5-4. The two finals were then hosted by the Renvyle GAA club on June 17th and it was a marvellous occasion. The weather was glorious and the pitch was in perfect order, beautifully cut and lined.
The Irish and Renvyle flags flew proudly side by side. Charlie O’Malley played the National Anthem and GAA President, Joe McDonagh, delivered memorable bilingual orations after both finals. This is the first time ever that Uachtarán Cumann Luthchleas Gaeil has come to the Letterfrack-Ballinakill parish in an official capacity.
The finals themselves were full of the passion and skill that makes Gaelic football such an exciting spectacle. Ardmór defeated Letterfrack by 7-2 to 2-4 in the first final and then Eagles Nest completed an historic four in a row by beating Tully N S on a scoreline of 8-12 to 6-4. Both sets of players and supporters displayed great sportsmanship afterwards. Renvyle GAA deserves great credit for having everything so well organised and for laying on refreshments for the children in Cottage Café afterwards.
Written by Paul Gannon
Connemara Life, Summer 1999
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