Great day’s fun at Antrim Forum for Cumann na mBunscol finals

At the double! St. Patrick’s & St. Brigid’s Ballycastle who were winners of the Cumann na mBunscol camogie and hurling at the Antrim finals in Antrim Forum on Tuesday


Antrim All-County Finals

The top primary schools in the county met up at the Antrim Forum to determine the indoor champions for 2017/2018 across four of Gaelic games codes on Tuesday February 20th. The champions and runners up of South Antrim, North Antrim and South West Antrim were all there keen to gain the top prize and be crowned county champions.

The first competition to be decided was the camogie with St Mary’s Portglenone, St. Patrick’s and St.Bridgit’s Ballycastle, Gaelscoil Na Bhfal, Bunscoil Phobal Feirste all competing. The two Belfast schools hurled tremendously however it was their country cousins who proved top dogs in this competeition. When the Ballycastle girls and the Portglenone girls met there was only the bear minimum between them with the Ballycastle girls retaining the trophy after defeating St.Mary’s 2-1.

The hurling had: Mary Queen of Peace Glenravel, Bunscoil Phobal Fierste, St. Patrick’s and St.Bridgit’s Ballycastle,  Holy  Child Belfast competing. This was far more clear cut in terms of the young men from the ‘castle railroading over the other teams in the competition and finishing out convincing winners and county champions. There was nothing between the other three teams in the competition and their games were very tight affairs.

Holy Trinity, Belfast winners of the girls football and Bunscoil Phobal Fierste winners of the boys football

The girls’ football like the camogie was a tight affair with only one goal separating the champions and the runners up in the competition. Teams from: Holy Trinity Belfast, Creggan, St John the Baptist Belfast, Mount St Michael’s Randalstown played against each other with the final game pairing up the two unbeaten teams of Creggan and Holy Trinity Belfast. The Belfast girls emerged as victors but really the game could have went either way.

The last competition of the day saw three teams compete for the title: Bunscoil Phobal Fierste, Holy Trinity Belfast and St. Joseph’s Crumlin compete to become indoor boy’s county champions. The two Belfast teams proved too strong for their SW rivals and when the two city teams came head to head they served up a classic with the Bunscoil scoring a goal at the death to win not only that match but ultimately the competition as they went on to defeat St. Joseph’s in the final game of the day.

Congratulations to all the teams who qualified to take part and special congratulations to all the winners on the day. Many thanks to the referees Simon Mc Crory  and Jarlath O’Donnell and also to our sponsors. The boys girls now have the outdoor sevens to look forward to.

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GAILEARAÍ: Lá stairiúil do mhuintir Ghaoth Dobhair agus Craobh Uladh tugtha leo ag a bpeileadóirí óga


Report from an Irish language website based in Galway

Ashamedly my knowledge of the Irish language is limited and as I listened to Gaoth Dobhair players and spectators communicate with each other in our native tongue over the period of the Bank of Ireland-Paddy McLarnon Cup I couldn’t help feeling that I was missing out on something special. Irish of course is the first language of the Gaelta region where tournament winners Gaoth Dobhair hail from and I’ve included a report from an Irish language website based in Galway for the benefit of you fluent Irish speakers out there to read and enjoy.

Ba é Cian Ó Maolagáin laoch an chluiche d’fhoireann Faoi-21 Ghaoth Dobhair inné nuair a thug cumann Mhachaire Gathlán Craobh Uladh leo in Aontroim. Chaill Ó Maolagáin amach ar na cluichí eile sa chomórtas de bharr é a bheith gortaithe ach rinne sé a chion dá fhoireann inné nuair a fuair sé trí chúl sa chluiche ceannais i gcoinne sheaimpíní Dhoire, Leamhaigh. Trí phointe dhéag a bhí idir na foirne ag an deireadh, 4-7 in aghaidh 0-6.

Ba é Éamonn Ó Colm a d’aimsigh an chéad chúl don fhoireann Ghaeltachta agus gan ach cúig nóiméad imeartha agus tar éis do Ó Maolagáin cúl eile a aimsiú roimh an mbriseadh, bhí bearna seacht bpointe ag fir Ghaoth Dobhair ag leath ama, 2-4 in aghaidh 0-3.

Ba í imirt chosantach na gConallach ceann de na láidreachtaí ba mhó a bhí acu i rith an chomórtais agus bhí an lámh in uachtar acu arís sa bháisteach Dé Domhnaigh. Pointe amháin ón imirt a d’aimsigh Leamhaigh sa chluiche.

Bhí an beart nach mór déanta ag foireann Tom ‘Beag’ Mhic Ghiolla Easpaig agus iad sé phointe chun cinn agus an t-am beagnach caite ach bhí a dhóthain ama ag an Maolagánach dhá chúl eile a scóráil. Ba é seo an chéad uair riamh ag aon fhoireann ó Ghaoth Dobhair craobh Uladh a thabhairt leo .


Bright Lights beckon for new boys Glenavy and St. Enda’s

O’ Cahan Cup (first round)

Two further rounds in the South West premier competition, The O’ Cahan Cup are scheduled for Wednesday evening as the illuminations at Portglenone and Ahoghill will light up Casement’s v Glenavy and Ahoghill v St Enda’s.

The remaining first round pairing involving Moneyglass and Glenravel is set to proceed on March 4th.

Tir na Nog and Aghagallon have come through their initial tests with respective wins gained over All Saint’s and Rasharkin.

Wed 21st Feb

Casement’s v St Joseph’s Glenavy (8.00pm)

The pristine new arena at Portglenone features in this one as the Casement’s men welcome St Joseph’s Glenavy to their abode and an opening round game in the O’ Cahan cup under their floodlights.

Jude Donnelly has led the Ports to early post season activity and the Bannsider’s have several games under their belts already in the ‘Ulster League’ recording a good win in Cavan last time with a 3-10 to 2-10 victory over Cootehill.

The Portglenone men are gaining in improvement under the watchful eye of the former Bellaghy player and they will look to make further impression in the 2018 season.

Glenavy enjoyed an excellent 2017 season with success in taking the division two league title the ‘jewel in the crown’ as they bridged a 25 year gap in gaining promotion to division 1.

The Chapel Hill side are back in the top grade and will look at this game as an opportunity to test themselves against established division 1 opponents.

This does look an intriguing game which may well prove a close, hard fought affair but ground advantage could prove decisive and Casement’s may well shade it.


St Mary’s Ahoghill v St Enda’s (7.30 pm)

The Clooney sward is the venue for this one as St Mary’s Ahoghill play hosts to Glengormley based St Enda’s under the floodlights.

Ahoghill did look in some trouble last term in danger of relegation but the Clooney men have character aplenty within and a last round win up at Aldergrove ensured survival.

The Clooney residents have held their own in the top grade for a long time and they will be fully prepared for another campaign.

They did give residence to the O’ Cahan cup a few years back and they will be doing their best to welcome the silverware back again.

St Enda’s fared well in their 2017 programme on the domestic scene and the Hightown residents, with a youthful talented squad available will look to maintain progress this term.

St Enda’s are back in the top grade in the county employed in division one and they will most likely travel down to Ahoghill seeking to test themselves against division 1 opposition.

Ahoghill are usually strong and hard to unseat on their own domain and although St Enda’s may well provide a stern test the Clooney men are given the nod.









Gaoth Dobhair Captain Niall Friel speaks with the Saffron Gael


Gaoth Dobhair captain, Niall Friel addresses the crowd after receiving the Bank of Ireland-Paddy McLarnon Cup on Sunday at Creggan.

Bank of Ireland Paddy McLarnon Cup Final

U21 Club Football Tournament


By Brendan McTaggart

Team captain Niall Friel wrote his name into Gaoth Dobhair history on Sunday afternoon.  The first man to lead a side from Donegal to the Paddy McLarnon U21 Ulster club cup while becoming the first captain to lead Gaoth Dobhair to success at Ulster level.  Friel though has a wise head on young shoulders.  He’s proved throughout the tournament just how good a leader he is of this team and he continued on Sunday to lead his side imperially.  At centre half, he could be found marshalling his defence expertly while providing countless supporting runs from deep as his side counter attacked.

Gaoth Dobhair had 13 points to spare over Lavey on Sunday afternoon, thanks largely to a stunning man of the match performance from the returning Cian Mulligan.  The Gaoth Dobhair man was unable to play any part of the early rounds of the Paddy McLarnon Cup due to his involvement with the Donegal McKenna Cup squad and was a doubt coming into the final with an injury.  He quashed those doubts emphatically, scoring three goals helping to secure the title for Gaoth Dobhair.  Friel told us that it’s what Mulligan is capable off: “No better man than Mulligan himself.  He was a bit of a doubt coming into the game, but he did the same in the county final.

“I was saying to myself that he was having a quiet game today and he popped up with two goals at the end.  There’s goals in him and that’s what he’s capable off.”  Friel added: “I’m praising Cian but the whole team were magnificent today.  The full back line and the whole defensive unit were brilliant.  It let us hit them on the counter attack at the end and put some daylight between us.”

During his acceptance speech, Friel was almost lost for words when he spoke about Tom ‘Beag’ Mac Gíolla Easpuig.  It is clear there is a wonderful bond between Tom ‘Beag’ and Friel as the Gaoth Dobhair captain proclaimed his manager to be ‘the man’ during his speech.  He told us that it was Mac Gíolla Easpuig’s influence on the tactical side that helped pave their success: “I suppose that’s what Tom prides himself on.  If we were going to compete in Ulster we had to be on our game and we kept things tight to give ourselves a chance to win the game.  We got lucky with the breaks at the end.

“We all pride ourselves on our defensive work.  We don’t count the scores at the end of the game or who does it.  We count the number of turnovers and we were excellent on that account today.”

Friel continued by adding that although this is their last match together at underage, they have aspirations for greater success in the future: “Today will have put to an end any talk of last year’s semi-final defeat.  This was our last game together as a team and it’s all about pushing on from here into the senior set-up.  We got to the semi-final last year and we’ve had a few heartbreaks with not getting out of the groups but hopefully now this can be the beginning of something for the club.  The senior league starts now in a couple of weeks so hopefully this will give us the spur on we need to go on and win a senior championship.  That’s the one medal that these lads are looking for now.”

Lavey manager Seamus Downey speaks with the Saffron Gael


Lavey manager Seamus Downey appeals a decision during Sunday’s final

Bank of Ireland Paddy McLarnon Cup Final

U21 Club Football Tournament


 By Brendan McTaggart

Lavey manager Seamus Downey was in reflective mood when we spoke with him after Sunday’s final.  He witnessed his side fall to a 13 point defeat to Gaoth Dobhair in the final of the Paddy McLarnon U21 Ulster club tournament but was more than happy with the progress he has overseen in their championship run: “We’ll regroup and take the positives out of this.  The lads are disappointed, but our glass is definitely half full coming out of this competition.

“I told the lads that we don’t have a problem with having lost in this competition.  We feel like we’ve gained far more than we’ve lost.  At the start of the year, we felt we could regroup and rebuild with this squad.

“We have 25 of a panel, six of them are still minor this year and 10 of them were still minor last year.  It gives you an idea on how young this squad is.  The rest will move on into the senior ranks now and this is going to be the backbone of our senior team for years to come.”

On a day when his side were underdogs, Downey acknowledged that they needed the rub of the green but it didn’t happen on Sunday while praising their opponents: “John Brennan said there himself and John’s seen a lot of football.  It was one of those days when things go against you.  There were times we had three men around a broken ball and it fell into Gaoth Dobhair hands.  It just didn’t happen for us today.

“They have three inter-county senior players playing out there today.  They were just a wee bit further on in their development than us.

“This is our fifth game in our championship run where we’ve been underdogs, we were even underdogs in the challenge games we played.”

The early Eamon Collum goal proved to be a major factor in the final.  It allowed Gaoth Dobhair to settle early while Lavey were playing catch up from an early stage: “We knew they were going to come running at us from deep but sometimes with your best laid plans, you don’t have the armoury to deal with it.”  Downey continued: “The first goal was a bit of a sucker punch but we got ourselves back into the game.  It was four three after about 20 minutes gone.  It was disappointing as we kicked the ball away and they broke out at us.  We’re better than that.  At that stage it was really an arm wrestle.  We were coping well with them and I would have liked to have got to half time with a score line of that nature.  When you play against teams that sit, you have to be really close.  Once you go five or six points down it gets extremely difficult.

“We tried to mix things up after half time.  Go longer, quicker but nothing broke for us.  That being said there was still six in it with 10 minutes left.  We felt if we got them down to three or four we could have got at them, but they got the third goal from a kick out straight past three of our lads.  Their forward turned our defender with a push in the back that let them in.  It’s the small things like that you look back on.”

A generation has come and gone since Lavey last lifted the senior football championship within the Oakleaf county and Downey feels that with a bit more work, their U21 side can provide the foundations for success: “It’s not rocket science how to build a team to win championships.  It takes hard work.  I started with those lads Shea (Downey), Brendan Laverty Eamon (McGill) and them boys when they were four or five in an indoor hall in Lavey 15 years ago with a sponge ball.  We’ve built the club and now we’re trying to build the teams.  There’s no transfer market and you have to work with what you have but all successful clubs have done that and you have to stick with it.  Our time will come.”