Leitrim Players are Local Heroes
Nothing beats being there has been the GAA’s promotional slogan to encourage supporters to attend the Provincial and All Ireland Championships. Truth to tell, there is little to compare to the excitement of the football and hurling championships in the build up to September.
The high regard in which inter-county players are held was emphasised on Sunday last in Páirc Mac Diarmada, when Leitrim GAA hosted an Open Day for supporters, but particularly for children. The inter-action between the players, their managements and backroom teams and the youngsters was quite a promotional exercise and thoroughly enjoyed by all present.
Coiste na nÓg had the Allen Gaels, Carrigallen, Melvin Gaels and Ballinamore Sean O’Heslin Juvenile teams in attendance to play a series of blitzes, with county players acting as coaches, selectors, referees and water boys, much to the delight of the four teams. For once, the results of the games didn’t matter, a fun day was what it was all about.
But better was to come when every child in Páirc Seán had the opportunity to join a team that played a challenge against the Leitrim Senior footballers — hundreds against fifteen! The referee was none other than football Manager Sean Hagan, who certainly let the game flow and kept the black cards in his pocket. Doing the commentary on the game was current centre half back Gary Reynolds, who was the unanimous choice of the players for the task. Correction – he was actually second choice, but Gerry Hickey had baulked at the proposition — he would rather face the wild tackles from the Juveniles than do a commentary on a game his team mates were certain to lose. And lose they did, with the kids Scóring at will, due to some dodgy refereeing and umpiring decisions.
Then it was time for piggy back races and all kinds of hilarity, with the footballers and hurlers intermingling with their young fans. James Molloy had everyone lined up for the customary “High Fives”, but sudden incessant rain put paid to that.
However, all was not lost, as everyone retreated to the shelter of the stand, where the main organiser, County Board PRO Collette Fox, had goodies and promotional material ready for distribution to all the kids and the players were besieged for autographs. You see, these players are the local sporting heroes for our young generation.
Thanks is due to everyone involved – Terence Boyle and Barbara Byrne from Coiste na nÓg, Thomas Keenan, Games Promotion Manager, the Leitrim County Board, James Molloy, Brian Blake and all those who helped out on the day. But special gratitude must go to the team managements and particularly all the players who made the Championship Open Day one to remember.
Some photographs from the day are available on our Facebook page
13-May-14 by Leitrim GAA