Clann Eireann hosted their 5th annual tournament in memory of the late Marie Hoye and Caitriona McKeag on Saturday past, 12th April, with the largest number of teams participating since the tournament was launched 5 years ago.
Clann Eireann park was awash with colour as teams arrived from all corners of the country, 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 Downs Syndrome. Downs and Proud was the charity selected to benefit from the tournament this year, as it celebrated its 10th anniversary. The guest of honour at our tournament 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, such is the desire of players to represent their club in honour of their heroes and legends, Marie and Caitriona. Indeed,one of the Clann Eireann teams had Marie Hoye’s three daughters and two nieces on the field of play.
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 infamous 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..
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 such as Elish Gormley & Caitriona Mc Gahan, 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.Pauls 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. Our main sponsor, Caroline Malaugh, from Murphy’s Law in Florida, who is a dear friend of Marie Hoye’s family, travelled to our tournament and presented the Marie Hoye cup & £250 sports vouchers to the winning team, Carrickmore. We were delighted and honoured to have you there on the day Caroline and we thank you for your continued support. We also thank Maries’s brother Harry Henderson, who travels home from Florida each year to attend the tournament. Harry presented the player of the tournament award to the very deserving Gemma Begley.
Finally, we also thank all of those involved in running the tournament with a special thanks to all who worked tirelessly on the day.