Barna GAA Plans visit to Tralee after hosting Austin Stacks over hugely successful U14 Féile weekend

Barna GAA Plans visit to Tralee after hosting Austin Stacks over hugely successful U14 Féile weekend

Barna GAA hosted Austin Stacks from Tralee in the All-Ireland U14 Féile Finals last weekend – and it was such a success, the club is planning a return visit to Tralee in September! After the initial two group games in Pearse Stadium and Prairie, the club hosted a welcome reception for Stacks in the Barna school hall where all players and mentors enjoyed some very welcome refreshments.

Any fears that both sets of players would have difficulties in mixing were quickly overcome when after only five minutes, there was a football heading competition taking place in the school yard to the great sound of laughter from everyone …this set the tone for the weekend and we all knew we were in for a memorable time!

Galway football legend Bosco McDermott and former GAA President Joe McDonagh gave inspirational speeches and Club Chairman Johnny Flaherty, and Juvenile Club Chairman, Tommy Lenihan, welcomed everyone from Tralee to Barna and recalled the previous links between the two clubs. Johnny presented a Barna jersey and a locally crafted wooden clock to the Austin Stacks manager.

In turn, Gene O’Donnell presented a beautiful framed Austin Stacks jersey to Barna GAA Club and this took pride of place in Donnelly’s Bar over the weekend. After the introductions to the host families, all the players headed off for some well needed rest while Barna locals mixed with the Austin Stacks management and parents in Donnelly’s. On Saturday morning in beautiful sunshine, Barna took on the Kerry champions in front of a large crowd in Furbo.

Despite missing some key players through holidays and late injuries, the Barna players put in a magnificent performance outplaying their opponents through most of the game before narrowly losing to a couple of late goals. In the best tradition of Féile however, both teams and supporters all mixed together on the pitch afterwards where memorable photographs were taken. Everyone then headed for Furbo beach to cool off in the bay and take part in an impromptu water polo game.

The football action moved to Pearse Stadium and Prairie in the afternoon where Barna took on the Down County Champions Bredagh in the Shield Quarter-Final. Dogged, however, with more injuries, despite battling bravely, Barna went down to a more physical Bredagh team who went on to win the Shield Final on the Sunday. Austin Stacks took on Nemo Rangers in another Kerry-Cork classic but it was the Rebels who prevailed and eventually went on to lose narrowly to Naas in the Féile Cup Final on Sunday. The club would like to wish Austin Stacks player Jack Gibney a speedy recovery from his broken wrist sustained in a warm up for the Nemo Rangers game last weekend.

Although disappointed, both the Barna and Stacks players headed off to Pure Skill where they all mixed and enjoyed the various sports skills challenges. Sunday morning came much too soon however and it was a wonderful sight to see both teams in their club colours attend mass as a group. All Barna players and management then clapped their visitors on to the team bus and made a final guard of honour as it pulled out of the car park for the long journey to Tralee.

While the results on the pitch did not go Barna’s way, the club is very proud of the lads’ achievement in participating in the finals as County Féile Champions. Unfortunately the loss of some key players through holidays and injuries over the weekend proved too much in such a competitive Division 1.

However, the spirit of Féile is about making new friends and playing the games in a sporting manner and this was certainly achieved over the weekend. Barna GAA Club were honoured to host such a prestigious club as Austin Stacks whose players were a wonderful bunch of young men, a credit to all their parents and in the best tradition of Kerry, very skillful footballers.

To Gene O’Donnell, David Scanlon and all the management we say a huge thank you for all your kind words and enthusiastic participation in all activities over the weekend. To the energetic Lorraine Scanlon we say a huge thank you as she was a joy to deal with in helping to organise the weekend.

We have all made new friends from ‘The Rockies’ and in Mike ‘Chips’ Clifford, we have found a new Club Lotto Seller and he in turn has finally learnt about the ‘Square Ball Rule’!

The club wishes to thank the organising committee and in particular Mary Conneely for all the hard work that went in to the weekend and most of all to the host families for their generosity in taking the young Stacks players into their homes over the weekend.

This was a memorable experience for everyone in the club and with talks of a return trip for the U14 team to Tralee in September, we all hope that the great association between the two clubs some thirty years ago will be continued and built on again.

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