Report: Sean Barrett
This year the Féile na nÓg competition moved away from the original age group of U14 to U15 to coincide with the change to uneven age groups.
After a mediocre championship campaign, attention turned to the Feile for Kilmeena U15s. We were paired in Group 1 of the C competition alongside Achill, Westport and Ballintubber with the games taking place in Westport on Saturday morning last.
Game one was against Achill where chances ebbed and flowed for both teams and could have gone either way. The lads battled hard throughout to earn a 2-5 a piece draw with the islanders. It was a game where it felt a point lost was also a point gained. It was a case of rest up quick and get ready for the next challenge.
Game two saw us pitted against a fancied Ballintubber side who got out of the traps early and got some early scores to pull away. Kilmeena did enough to keep themselves in with a chance by tapping points over the bar. They found themselves at the break five points down in Spanish-like temperatures and losing corner back Rory Kilcoyne to a shoulder injury was a blow. They knew there was a big task ahead if they were going stay in this competition! They started well in the second half and worked very hard for one another. A penalty from captain John Murphy brought us back into the game and scores from Declan Moore, Luke Durkan, Micheal Regan, Aaron Bourke and Murphy again did enough to get us over the line on a 1-6 to 1-5 scoreline. Credit must go to our defence and goalkeeper who worked tirelessly throughout. The result was a surprise to some but as Padraig O’Hora said at the end of the Mayo v. Dublin semi-final “we have only one plan”.
The result against Ballintubber left us with a winner-takes-all clash against neighbours Westport for a place in the county semi-final. At this stage there was plenty of knocks, niggles and fatigue setting in, but we had to re-focus for one last time. Like the Ballintubber game, our opposition started brighter and kicked over five unanswered points to leave us five behind before Dean Staunton found the net just before the interval to leave us just two points down. Westport started the brighter in the second half and had chances to pull away in the game along with an excellent penalty save from goalkeeper Louis Corcoran which gave the team a great lift. At this stage the lads were working extremely hard in roasting hot conditions. Micheal Regan, Luke Durkan, Aaron Bourke, DJ Keane and Evan O’Grady when re-introduced, putting in a great shift and showing leadership as elder statesmen in the team. There was time for one late twist when Declan Moore stood up to kick the winner to great scenes of joy in Westport to give us a 1-4 to 0-6 victory. You could name more lads who were terrific throughout the day, but it really was a squad effort from the 19 lads, who then booked a spot in the semi-final the following day against Ardnaree in the Connacht Centre of Excellence in Bekan.
On Sunday morning, all roads led to Bekan for the county semi-final at 11am versus Ardnaree. The lads in black and white started brightly with an early Aaron Bourke score to settle any nerves. After that, even though we had the bulk of possession, Ardnaree ran up a five points to one lead before Dean Staunton kept us in touch with a white flag. At the break we trailed five points to two.
In the second half it was a tough battle with the north Mayo men and both teams had chances. Luke Durkan kept us in touch with a point, but Ardnaree pulled away further with a goal on the break. A late Dean Staunton goal was not enough to get us back into the game as we fell short to a 1-6 to 1-3 defeat.
Credit must go to the whole team who put in a great effort over the two days and they should be proud of their efforts. Special mention must go to Rory Kilcoyne who broke his clavicle in the Ballintubber match. We wish Rory a speedy recovery.
Squad: Louis Corcoran, Rory Kilcoyne, DJ Keane, Darragh O’Grady, Oran Grimley, John Murphy (capt.) Aaron Murray, Micheál Regan, Martynas Grimalia, Declan Moore, Luke Durkan, Aaron Bourke, Evan O’Grady, Cormac O’Malley, Dean Staunton, Aodán Feehan, Alex Kenning, Patrick Feehan, Shane Lavelle and Logan Hearty.
Manager: Sean Barrett
Coaches: Declan Ryan, Darragh Keaveney, Stephen Staunton and Davy Feehan.