All Ireland Feile Football Finals
St Mary’s Faughanvale Under 14s will make history this weekend as the club’s first representatives at the All Ireland Football Féile.
The Derry champions depart this morning, bound for Charlestown, Co. Mayo where they will meet the host club Charlestown Sarsfields, Drumcliffe-Rossas Point from Sligo and a select team from Scotland.
Managed by Kevin Jude Bryson, Mark ‘Burpy’ McGuinness and Gary O’Connor, the ‘Vale boys captured the Derry title following an epic county final victory over Greenlough which has left them in good stead for this weekend’s historic trip.
“The momentum is building,” admitted Kevin Jude Bryson, “We are getting there. It is shaping up nicely and we are at the point where we are looking forward to getting away.
“The Derry final was six weeks ago but we have spent the time well because we have held a couple of fundraisers, car washes and a very successful ‘big breakfast’. We had a lot of events and the good thing was the young lads were fully involved in all of them. They really enjoyed it.
“We could have gone to businesses for sponsorship but it says a lot about these boys that they wanted to earn their money for the tip and they will enjoy it far more because of that. They have worked hard for it themselves but the community have really rallied in behind us which has been fantastic to see.”
And it’s not just within the boundaries of John McLaughlin Park that the exploits of a hugely talented young team has been felt, with more than 300 family, friends and club mates expected to travel to Mayo to cheer the team on.
“This is the first yea we have ever qualified for the Feile," adds Kevin, who has been coaching the team since they were under 8s, “It is the first time a ‘Vale team has ever got away to a Feile and we are going since 1933 so that shows the achievement.
“This is an opportunity of a lifetime for these young lads, something to go and experience. It’s an event they will always remember. I’m trying to emphasis to the lads to take in as much of the experience in as they can. All the great players we’ve had come through the club, they never got to experience an All Ireland Feile finals so this is special.
“I think the do appreciate it though. We are trying to keep them as grounded as we can. I simply want the boys to go down and do the best they can do and not under perform. If that’s good enough, then that’s good enough and if its not, it’s not.
“I want them to leave the Feile with no regrets, to go and give it a right shot and see where it takes us. These will be memories of a lifetime and you know what, our whole parish seems to be going!
“There is a brilliant buzz about the place, it has really lifted the club, it’s fantastic.”
The Vale manager acknowledges this will be a step up in class for his young players but he is backing them to do their club, and Derry, proud.
“It’s going to be a lot tougher down here. All the county champions will be here and there won’t be any easy games but we are going to go down and enjoy it first and foremost. We will do our best and see where that takes us.
“There are teams from North London, South London and teams from the States; teams from Australia, it is going to be some experience for our boys.
“We want them to go down and given it a real go and make some more memories of a lifetime for themselves.”