John McChrystal Cup a fitting first tournament for new Doire Trasna base

t's been a summer of 'firsts' at Doire Trasna's new pitch which looks out across Derry city from the Waterside's Corrody Road
Doire Trasna and Craigbane in action in the 2019 John McChrystal Memorial blitz at Lisnagelvin pitchesDoire Trasna and Craigbane in action in the 2019 John McChrystal Memorial blitz at Lisnagelvin pitches
Doire Trasna and Craigbane in action in the 2019 John McChrystal Memorial blitz at Lisnagelvin pitches

First match; first score; first win; first Cul camp and, on Saturday, another red letter day for the club's spiritual home as it prepares to host its first John McChrystal Memorial Under 13 Blitz, a competition named after one of the club's founding fathers and one of the city’s most influential GAA figures.

Trasna in it's present form wasn't founded until 2001 but the roots of the Pearses club in Derry can be traced back to 1884 when the original ‘Pearses’ began life as St Patrick's. A stalwart defender in his day, John was part of the St. Patrick’s team that won seven City Championships and contested two County Finals during the 1940s before changing its name in honour of Sean Dolan following his death in 1941 and eventually relocating to a new base in Creggan in the '60s, where Dolan's remain to this day.

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Despite that, it was always the dream of John and his close friends and fellow city Gaels, Mickey McNaught and Tommy McGlinchey, to establish a Gaelic Pitch on the Waterside and for many years they lobbied Derry City Council to allow GAA to be played at Lisnagelvin playing fields but it was deemed too contentious at the time.

However, John never lost the desire to see a club established in the Waterside and eventually played a pivotal role as Na Piarsaigh were formed in 1978. The club entered the County League, fielding both Senior and Minor teams but unfortunately due to the political unrest at the time, this ‘Pearses’ team were short lived and withdrew from the league in 1981.

When Na Piarsaigh Doire Trasna reformed in 2001, John was appointed President, with Tommy McGlinchey and Pete McKenna as joint Vice-Presidents and he presided over the club until his passing in April 2012 with his guidance helped the fledgling club go from strength to strength, so much so that John's dream finally came to fruition earlier this summer after more than 80 years with the opening of the Trasna's fantastic new facility.

And there will be no more fitting sight this weekend than watching the hundreds of young players competing for a trophy bearing his name on a pitch John fought so long and so hard to see established.

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In all, 10 Under-13 teams from Derry, Donegal and Tyrone will take part in games split between the two pitches with both the John McChrystal Cup and Shield up for grabs.

From Derry, Steelstown, Sean Dolan's, Craigbane, Foreglen and Slaughtmanus join their hosts with Buncrana and Naomh Colmcille from Donegal and Strabane Sigersons and Owen Roe O'Neill's from Tyrone completing the line-ups.

Matches get underway at 11am with the teams split into two groups of five and qualifying teams making it through to either the Cup or Shield semi-finals. With the Shield Final scheduled for approximately 2.20pm and the Cup final 2.45pm, it will be a full day of football action with spectators welcome.

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