Féile Peil na nÓg, the national festival of under age Gaelic Football comes to the Midlands next weekend with the hosting of the national finals in Laois / Offaly with the assistance of clubs in the neighbouring counties of Kildare and Westmeath.
Over the weekend of 22nd - 24th June 2012 seventy six visiting teams will be hosted by local clubs with approximately 4,000 boys and girls taking part in 268 matches over the weekend. On Friday 22nd June 76 matches will take place at home venues before teams proceed to O’Moore Park, Portlaoise for the Féile Parade through the streets of Portlaoise where a crowd of approximately 10,000 is expected to attend. On Saturday games commence at 10 a.m. in thirty eight venues to decide the semi finalists who will play off on Saturday evening for the right to compete in the Féile finals on Sunday 24th June 2012 at O’Moore Park, Portlaoise and Portlaoise GAA Grounds. A total of ten finals take place during the day with the presentations to be made by Uachtaran Cumann Luthchleas Gael Liam O’Neill and Uachtaran Cumann Peil na mBan Pat Quill.
The visiting clubs to Féile Peil na nÓg include some famous names including current Dublin senior champions St. Brigid’s led by former Dublin star Keith Barr, current AFL and Kerry All Ireland medallist Tommy Walsh’s club Kerins O’Rahilly’s and St. Canice’s Dungiven, home club of Joe Brolly Sunday Game analyst all competing in Division One of the boys competition with local clubs like Portlaoise, Ferbane / Belmont, Edenderry and Portarlington. In Division Two Skryne from Meath, Burren from County Down, Castlebar Mitchells with whom the Taoiseach has a strong association and Kilmacud Crokes come up against home clubs like Stradbally Parish Gaels who include inter county referee Maurice Deegan in their management team. Looking through the remainder of the division’s names like Castlehaven (Niall Cahalane, Larry Tompkins), Newtown Blues (Louth) and Eire Og (Carlow) join famous local clubs like Tullamore, Rhode, Moate, Gracefield, Ballyroan Abbey and The Heath with some close and exciting competition expected as well as lots of enjoyment. In Ladies football the competition will be close also with Foxrock Cabinteely, Dublin joined in Division One by last year’s finalist St. Val’s from Cork, Monaleen from Limerick, Rathmore (Kerry), St. Laurence’s (Kildare), Westport (Mayo), Kilmurray Ibrickane (Clare) and Galway champions Claregalway competing with local clubs including former Féile ladies champions Portlaoise, St. Rynagh’s and Tullamore.
The motto for the Féile weekend is “Fun and Friendship” and the local host clubs have gone to great efforts to prepare their facilities and organise activities for their visitors. Despite the economic recession fundraising drives have been ongoing and new flags, banners and team gear has been organised to make sure that the local teams will be well presented. Local businesses also report increased activity ahead of the Féile with hotel and accommodation providers getting a welcome boost including a large delegation from Philadelphia arriving early for their visit to Castlemitchell outside Athy, Co. Kildare. In total there are thirteen overseas entries as well as representatives from each of the 32 counties. The overseas counties are New York, Philadelphia and San Francisco, Hertfordshire, Yorkshire, Warwickshire, London, Lancashire, Gloustershire and Scotland. In the case of London there will be boy’s teams from both North and South London while London and New York will field teams in both the boys and ladies competitions.