On Thursday 28 June 2018, after months of planning, organisation, preparation, training and fundraising the first of our visiting feile teams arrived in a buzzing Warrenpoint. The boys and coaches from South London and St Paul’s Academy arrived in Warrenpoint to an eagerly awaiting crowd of players, mentors, parents and club members. The boys had spent the day travelling and then training in Killeavy and they were glad of the hospitality waiting for them. Once host families had been assigned the visiting team headed off to their host families and lots of new friendships had already been formed.
Friday was an exciting day for our visiting boys team as they took a trip to Carlingford on the ferry along with our own u14 team, they spent a lovely morning in Carlingford before both teams returned to the club to prepare themselves for their first round matches in Mayobridge. Once the boys arrived home they joined the girls were out in force to welcome their own guests from Taghmon Camross, County Wexford. After some light refreshments in the club the girls teams took off along the coast to Ballymartin for their first round of matches.
Friday night saw the South London, Wexford and Warrenpoint crowds come together for some team Building in the club, lots of laughter could be heard from the clubrooms as the players and adults enjoyed the feile experience! It was home time after the games as al teams had home matches on Saturday in Moygannon.
The sun shone down on a spectacular looking Pairc Liam Ui Ir from early on Saturday and as expected there was a full house to support all teams playing in their second round matches. The hospitality was second to none and the 125 Pavillion was full food and treats and drinks to keep everyone hydrated in the heat, generously sponsored by our club supporters. Oisin McCann opened proceeding with a superb performance of Amhrán na bhFiann and the flags of each club flew high with pride in the slight breeze that drifted over the pitch. Shortly after 1pm, the team coaches pulled out to take all four teams to their third and final group matches. The boys headed in the direction of Kilcoo and the girls to Mayobridge where these final matches would determine if they played on Sunday in the semi finals. At the end of the group stages the Warrenpoint girls and South London boys were ecstatic to be confirmed as playing in Feile Péile na nÓg semi finals on Sunday, a massive and exciting achievement for both teams which brought much anticipation and chat at Saturday nights celebration BBQ back in the packed clubrooms.
The Whistledown were on site to provide a top class BBQ for all in attendance and the newly renovated back held host to the hundreds of players, mentors, parents, supporters and committee members and there was a warming atmosphere with music provided by Oisín McCann and Miceal Leister. Club chairman Eugene Gallagher opened proceedings and began by thanking Paul McKibben and his small committee who took on the monumental task of arranging Warrenpoint’s 2018 Feile. Eugene spoke of his deep pride in the club and people of Warrenpoint who had come together to make the weekend one to always remember. Eugene also welcomed visiting guests from Wexford and South London and called upon Paul McKibben to present each of their team managers and captains with a framed souvenir Warrenpoint jersey and individual commemorative frame for each player designed by Conrad Madden. Taghmon Camross Chairman then presented Paul McKibben with a beautiful plaque engraved with club crests and sincerely thanked all in Warrenpoint for a fantastic weekend for their girls and visitors. Principal of St Paul’s Academy South London, Pat Winston then also made a presentation to a Paul McKibben and spoke passionately about their quest to win their sixth feile in eight years. He also then spoke of the once in a lifetime experience Warrenpoint had offered to his school team by allowing them to experience life in ‘rural Ireland’ memories they would never forget. Club chairman Eugene ended by wishing South London Gaels all the best in the semi final and took the opportunity to speak of his immense pride at the girls making an All Ireland semi final and encouraged the whole club to get behind them in Ardee on the Sunday. The atmosphere, laughter, dancing and interacting in the club was overwhelming and showed the true meaning of feile as the teams socialised together and formed life long friendships.
The enormity of the feile Sunday and semi final day could be felt about the town on Sunday morning as the u14 girls, mentors, parents and supporters got ready for the off as all roads out of Warrenpoint led to Ardee. In a creditable act and in the true meaning of feile the club U14 boys stayed behind to make the shorter journey to Mayobridge to support their host team, South London gaels in their quest to lift their third All Ireland title in a row and their sixth in eight years.
Unfortunately the news in Ardee was not what the crowd wished for, despite a strong second half performance, a place in the final was not meant to be and the girls bowed out of their first feile with their heads held high. (Full match report below) In true Warrenpoint style, as news filtered through that the South London boys had made the final, the supporters left Ardee and headed straight for Mayobridge to support the visiting team. They were to be a part of history as Ciaran Brannigan blew the final whistle the South London boys had done the treble and won All Ireland Division 2, the Warrenpoint crowd were ecstatic and the support from the local crowd did not go unnoticed as South London captain emotionally thanked the club for pushing them on.
Warrenpoint feile weekend ended in the South London team getting a police escort and guard of honour back to the club for one last time before they took to the bus for the airport. Michael Maher, teacher and coach of the team spoke about his teams experience in Feile, “the welcome Warrenpoint GAA club offered South London during our recent trip to Feile was absolutely remarkable. We were made to feel completely at home from the second we arrived on the Thursday, and over the course of the weekend our young men from South London were made to feel so welcomed into the homes of the host families it undoubtedly played a part in our success.” Michael went on tell club PRO Aisling McGivern that the the level of organisation shown over the course of the weekend is, “true testament to the hours that the Feile committee at Warrenpoint GAA club must have put in over the course of the last number of months.” “From the food that was provided, entertainment, host families, match day provision, playing facilities, transportation, kit washing, the disco, day trip and finally to the media coverage over the course of the weekend, we cannot begin to imagine the level of planning that went in to make the weekend so enjoyable for everyone involved.”
Speaking of their win, Maher said, “We were ecstatic to be crowned All Ireland champions last Sunday, however we truly wish to share our success with Warrenpoint GAA club, you are without a doubt the most welcoming host club we have ever had in our 12 years at Feile Peile na Nog, and the weekend we spent in your company really did epitomise the true meaning of the GAA. We were made to feel like one big family at the weekend, and you played a massive part in ensuring everything we did on the pitch with the lads was successful.”
The weekend would not have been possible without our numerous sponsors, hard working Féile Committee under the leadership of Paul McKibben, our host families, senior Footballers, bar staff, members who donated food, who helped out over the weekend, our music from Oisín, our teams, managers, mentors and helpers. A big thank you to Yellow Line for providing such a first class service all weekend, to Canon Kearney for the special mass, our main sponsors The Whistledown Hotel and anyone else who helped in anyway. Congratulations to Mayobridge who hosted both our boys and girls over the weekend, a fantastic setup, great organisation by all.
An overwhelmingly successful weekend for Warrenpoint, Down and Feile in general!