A little piece of sporting history was made recently by the U-14 girls of Athleague and St Ciarans when both clubs qualified for the finals of Feile 2011 in Galway and Cork respectively.
The U-14 footballers were first out of the traps with a thrilling win over favourites Clann na nGael in Kiltoom, a repeat of their achievement of 2009. This was followed within weeks by a convincing win for Athleague over Roscommon Gaels in the camogie decider in Tulsk, Athleague thus retaining the title they won last year.
So the excitement of Feile 2009 and 2010 is to be relived in 2011, this time on the double. Frustrated commuters often talk of waiting ages for a bus to arrive and then three or four coming along together, which is exactly how the sporting community of St Ciarans/Athleague must feel given that any previous Feile adventure goes back over a decade to the mid-nineties when many of the current senior Athleague camogie players achieved Feile success in U-14 camogie.
What makes 2011 truly unique however is the double achievement of winning football and camogie titles and this is a fitting reward for both clubs and has been made possible by the high level of co-operation and communication that exists between football and camogie codes in the community. This is further emphasised by the approach taken to preparation and fundraising for Feile. Both clubs have come together and formed a joint committee to co-ordinate preparation and fundraising and plans are currently well advanced in these areas.
A social and a table quiz have been organised and a cake sale is envisaged, all of which has been organised jointly and will avoid duplication in fundraising efforts.
Given that Feile for the camogie girls starts in mid-June, followed within five days by the football Feile in Cork, there is now great excitement surrounding the preparations which are moving into top gear.
The achievement of qualifying for Feile and the nature of the joint effort going forward is a source of great satisfaction locally. Given that Athleague Camogie Club is in existence for over three decades (since 1979) and that St Ciarans formed as recently as 2007, there is a sense of something old and something new blending together with great energy and community spirit.
During its three decades long existence Athleague Camogie Club has won all the honours available to it within the county, including underage titles at all ages, four junior titles and the senior breakthrough in 2006 and 2007. Throw in three Connacht junior titles, including one last year (2010) and you can appreciate the work and perseverance that has underpinned the club since inception.
For the footballers of St Ciarans since the club’s inception in 2007 the list of achievements is impressive too, and bears witness to a similar dedication to sporting participation and success. Since 2007 St Ciarans has won titles at all underage levels except minor in which competition the club was beaten finalist in 2010. St Ciarans now has teams at all levels, given that last year the St Ciarans junior team fielded for the first time and reached the championship semi-final, only losing that fixture after a replay. For both clubs the idea of participation in sport regardless of ability remains a core value.