Termon GAA u14 boys made history by representing the county for the first time ever in a Feile Div 1 final last weekend.
The Under 14 Boys team from Termon GAA Club were seeded in Div 1 of the 2016 National Feile competition which was held in Cork, Kerry and Limerick.
Despite Termon GAA, being one of the smallest clubs in Donegal, and facing the First Division County Champions of all the major counties and cities in Ireland, teams from Philadelphia, New York, The Middle East, UK and Northern Ireland the Termon Under 14 boys started and finished with an amazing run in the competition.
In the group stages they defeated Kildare champions Celbridge, Cork Champions Glanmire and their host team Caragaline from Cork.
They faced Derry champions, O' Donovan Rossa in the quarter finals and prevailed by 3 points before pipping a highly fancied Douglas side by a point in a thrilling semi final. The final was played before a large crowd in Austin Stack Park, Tralee, and despite a gallant effort by the Termon lads, they lost out to a fabulous side from Castleknock in Dublin. There was no shame in losing to a team which has been undefeated in every competition in Dublin for the last three years, and the Castleknock manager made a point of addressing the Termon lads in the dressing room afterwards where he complimented their style of play and stated that they had given them a tougher game than most teams in Dublin over the last years.
Despite the heartbreak of losing an All Ireland Div 1 final, this Termon team has won a host of admirers for their displays over the Feile weekend. Their matches were watched by a large travelling support, which grew as the hosts at Carragaline GAA, and Carragaline locals got behind a lovely team who played an attractive brand of football. This was augmented by hundreds of supporters cheering the boys on from Donegal, as Gerard Grant of Pramerica had arranged live streaming of the games for supporters who couldn’t make the trip.
This admiration was borne out by the massive crowd who gathered at the Lagoon Termon after 1am to welcome home the team, and the warmth of the reception will live long in the memories of these young men. To go so far in such a huge competition is a huge testament to the skill, courage and commitment of these players, and managers Paddy Gallagher and James Cassidy both say, they deserve every bit of credit they get and that they are quite simply an amazing bunch of young men.
It wasn’t always football, they were treated to enjoy some surprises over the weekend, they visited Croke Park for a stadium tour, a roof top sky walk, and enjoyed interactive hurling & football games and had lunch on way to Cork sponsored by Catherine & James Cassidy, Healthwise Pharmacies, before travelling to Carragaline to be paired up with their host families after dinner at Carragaline GAA Club House. Friday morning was spent relaxing with a hurling lesson from coaches in the host club, a tour of Charles Fort in Kinsale before returning to Carragaline for a team meal and preparation for the real job at hand.
On Friday evening they headed to Glanmire GAA Club for first two games. They beat Cellbridge the Div 1 Champions of Kildare by a point then played Glanmire the Feile Champions of Cork. Trailing by 6 points with five minutes to go Luke Downey found a bit of magic to score a goal which ignited the Termon team. Further goals from Aaron Gallagher and Conor Black saw the Termon boys victorious by four points in a real thriller. After their exertions Trevor Alcorn, brought the boys to the beach for a recovery session before they returned to their host families.
On Saturday morning they played their hosts in Carragaline and their new found belief and confidence saw them run out comfortable victors.. After another team meal the team were then introduced to Liam Mc Carthy & Sam Maguire, for a photo op arranged by Carragaline GAA. The boys were then off to Ballincollig where they played Derry Div 1 Champions O Donovan Rossa, and in another thriller, emerged victorious by three points to qualify for the semi final against a highly fancied Douglas side.
Douglas were the fancied team in Cork but this gallant Termon team ran out victors by one point in an absolute battle. On Saturday night it was back to Carragaline for a massive parade which saw the whole town closed off, followed by a social event and free disco organised for the team. At this stage they had their eye on the prize and insisted on going home early to be rested for their big match on Sunday.
This left Termon in the Div 1 Feile competition final against the mighty Castleknock of Dublin. The boys travelled to one of the most iconic stadia in GAA (Austin Stack Park in Tralee) and togged out in dressing rooms normally occupied by Gooch Cooper, Kieran Donaghy and other Kerry legends. It was a huge honour to run out the tunnel to roars of applause, and stand for amhrán na bhfiann before throw in the final of such a prestigious tournament.
Our boys lost the toss and played against a very strong breeze in the first half, and ended the half with a mountain to climb trailing Castleknock 3-4 to 0-2 at half time. True to form, the Termon lads threw the kitchen sink at Castleknock and spent most of the second half camped out in their opponents’ half. They were awarded a penalty a few minutes from time which would have left one score in it had we scored, but their keeper made a fantastic save and Castleknock used all their experience to close out the game for the win.
Sincere thanks goes out to their coaches James Cassidy and Paddy Gallagher for their dedication and unique style of positive coaching. In keeping with the ethos of both these coaches, the full panel was used throughout the weekend and this was in keeping with the ethos of Feile and GAA underage football. The u14 Boys will always be extremely grateful to their coaches for this experience.
More thanks to CLG An Tearmann for all their help and financial support, Mairtin and Angela Kelly, Kelly’s Centra, Mountain Top, Letterkenny for providing a full kit out & sports bags for Feile and their ongoing sponsorship of the Minor Board Boys & Girls, Eugene Trearty, Chairman Termon GAA and for making sure the Termon GAA flags were flying for the weekend, Catherine & James Cassidy for sponsoring the Croke Park experience on the way to Cork for the boys, Gerard Grant for sponsoring the coach travel for the event and providing food and drinks for the bus journey, Paddy Toye for providing the fruit for the weekend, Michael Boyle for providing Strength & Conditioning coaching throughout the season, Trevor Alcorn for driving the bus to Cork and throughout the weekend and for entertaining his passengers, the parents and supporters who travelled with the boys and those who didn’t that helped fund raise for the event, Paul McIntyre who travelled and provided Physio to the boys for the weekend, Kevin Joyce and Carragaline GAA Club’s players, parents and committee members for hosting the team and making them feel part of their GAA family community for the weekend, Grace Ann McGarvey, PR & Social media reporting for the weekend, Cllr Michael McBride, Pauric Hilferty for the compere at the welcome home reception, the Lagoon, Termon for hosting the welcome home reception, Frank McGettigan for the photographs of the home coming and last but not least the Under 14 team of Boys who did themselves, their parishes, their club, their coaches and their families extremely proud.
A presentation night will be held in the near future to mark their achievement, and we have no doubt that anyone who was along for the ride will have fond memories of this Feile weekend for a long time to come.