Fives and Handshakes
Boys and girls from the Annaduff, Dromahair, Gortletteragh and Glencar-Manorhamilton Clubs shared the GAA county grounds on Friday evening last with the members of the Leitrim team and management personnel.
The occasion was the first ever Championship Open Evening, when supporters of all ages were invited
to meet the Leitrim team as the players gear up for the forthcoming Connacht Championship clash with London in Ruislip. Followers got to meet and chat with the players and to witness first hand the team preparations for an exciting season to come.
But pride of place went to the youngsters on the Under 10 Blitz teams from the four clubs who strove might and main under the guidance of team mentors, coaches and parents, grannies, grandas, uncles, aunts and cousins, to show off their already considerable skills and to put down a pointer that they intend to be the Leitrim stars of the future. It was a great thrill for them too to have their team photograph taken with their own idols on the current side and also to have county stars referee their Blitz games. The emphasis was very much on the kids enjoying the football and the whole fun experience, when the results of their games did not really matter and where everybody got to play.
Following the games, the Leitrim Under 8 and Under 10 Blitzes were officially launched by Terence Boyle, Cathaoirleach of Coiste na n-Óg, who presented each team with new footballs. Then Joe Flynn, Cathaoirleach of Leitrim County Board GAA, officially launched the county’s Connacht Championship campaign, thanked all who had participated in the Open Evening, including the media, and wished the
Leitrim team and Joint Managers Brian Breen and George Dugdale every success.
Also present to extend good wishes was Joe Dolan, representing the Leitrim team sponsors, The Bush
Hotel, as was Michael Feeney, Chairman of the Dublin Branch of the Leitrim Supporters Club, together with numerous Supporter Club members and County Board and Coiste na n-Óg officials, coaches and Games Promotion Officers.
Photo-call time came next, when again the youngsters were to the fore, being captured on camera and on film by James Molloy, Willie Donnellan and Brian Blake, with members of the Leitrim squad.
There was more to come for all the children present, when they all combined to play a hilarious challenge match against the Leitrim players, who were tackled, hassled and man-marked by a virtual army of young footballers. It must be said that from goalkeeper Cathal McCrann out, the county team really got into the spirit of things and made the occasion something to remember for their avid young followers, allowing themselves to be beaten to the ball and outplayed throughout the field, with the youngsters banging in the goals.
Activity on the field finished with all the children lining up for High Fives and Handshakes with their county heroes. While the children and adults were treated to refreshments in the dressing rooms and the catering areas, as well as viewing the GAA Historical Murals and visiting the press and
commentary boxes and media rooms, the county players were being interviewed by the press and radio, before getting down to the serious business of yet another training session, to ensure all is in place for the London game.
The Open Evening was an unqualified success and much credit must go to the County Board for the
initiative. But particular praise and thanks is due to Leitrim PRO Collette Fox who worked so hard to co-ordinate the whole event and also to photographer James Molloy, who had worked in tandem with Collette in promoting the evening, particularly through the county GAA website, leitrimgaa.ie.
Now it is all to play for, it is all down to the performance on the field in Ruislip on June 3rd and remember, as the GAA marketing slogan says,:
Nothing beats being there.
12-May-12 by Tommy Moran – Connacht PRO