Clann Eireann’s fifth annual tournament in memory of the late Marie Hoy and Caitriona McKeag was a massive success with the largest number of teams since its establishment.
Clann Eireann Park was awash with colour as all the teams arrived from all corners of the country, including a ‘select’ team from Tyrone with former county players.
The pitches and stand were also decorated with the banners of ‘Downs and Proud’, a local charity set up by Martin and Aine Beatty to promote the inclusion of children with Down Syndrome. Downs and Proud was the charity selected to benefit from the tournament this year, as it celebrated its 10th year. The guest of honour was Martin and Aine’s little son Jay, aged 10, who is a legend in his own right in the Lurgan area and beyond. Jay has a great passion for football and ‘offered his services’ to give the team talks to the Clann Eireann ladies throughout the day.
The games kicked off at 10.30 with great excitement and anticipation about which teams would progress through to the quarter finals, semis and final of both the shield and the cup. The host club, Clann Eireann entered two teams. Indeed, one of those teams had Marie Hoye’s three daughters and two nieces on the field of play.
A Clann Eireann spokesperson said: “Sadly, just around lunchtime, when the group stages had finished and preparations were being made for the quarter finals, the terrible news filtered through that our very own Gary Murphy had passed away suddenly in hospital. We were all shaken to the very core of our being and there was a point when we felt the tournament would fall apart as the hearts of Clann Eireann people were broken in two. However, the gaelic community is a strong one and we knew we had to battle through the pain and continue with the tournament as teams had travelled from far and wide to participate.
“Spirits were lifted a bit when the Downs and Proud children took to the field for a penalty kick competition and had great fun scoring many fabulous goals past the famous Martina Hoye. Thank you boys and girls for helping us cope through a very difficult time. You are a credit to yourselves and your families and we would love to have you back on our playing fields at any time,” she said.
The shield final was a close encounter between St. Galls, Co. Antrim and Aodh Ruadh, Dungannon. Both teams put on an excellent display of football but it was the stronger Aodh Ruadh who were worthy winners on the day. The prestigious Caitriona McKeag Shield was presented to the Aodh Ruadh captain by Caitriona’s loving mother and father, Martina and Chris.
The Tyrone quest for success continued and the final of the cup had two worthy Tyrone teams competing. The ‘Old Hands’ which contained some of the former Tyrone stars mentioned earlier, battled hard against the mighty Carrickmore – a team with an unbeaten record all day. Carrickmore gave some excellent displays of football and were worthy winners of the Marie Hoye cup. Their all star Gemma Begley was awarded player of the tournament for her outstanding performance.
“Clann Eireann would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the teams and players who participated in our tournament and we hope you will return next year. The tournament has grown bigger and stronger with each passing year. We thank the teams who travelled to us and we thank the local teams who support our tournament each year. In particular, we enjoyed welcoming the newly formed St Paul’s Ladies from Lurgan. We hope you all enjoyed a great day of gaelic football and we wish you success in your league and championship competitions as thme season begins.
“We would also like to place on record our immense thanks to our sponsors, without whom we could not run such an important tournament.”