Report from the Regional Camogie Feile na nGael 2024

There is something about parents bringing their children to sport or even the other way around that is very healthy and wonderful.

After all the hard work on the training field and in their matches to date all the excitement in the build up, there was an atmosphere of quiet tension as the Camogs arrived at Mullaghbawn in deepest South Armagh on Saturday morning for their first experience of a Feile.
Even though no snow was forecast, Brian the Tradesman and Paula the Practical had erected a Gazebo at the side of the pitch which was very helpful as it allowed the players and their swell of followers a place to populate.
In the glorious June sunshine and not knowing what to expect from any of the opposing teams, it was a relief to get the first match against Tullysaran from Armagh started.
The pitch was big and as green as a lettuce but I don’t think the Camogs were looking at the scenery too much as the sliotar at times was at times travelling faster than their legs. They also had to be more careful in possession as quite clearly, the standard of camogie was very good and likewise the quality.
There were opportunities for Carryduff to score in the small parallelogram which weren’t executed so any scores that were coming were only like a little stream and the first match ended up in an agonising narrow defeat.
This gave the coaches and the players a time to reset themselves along with their confidence, but their supporters weren’t overly worried as it was only their first game.
Their next opposition was Kiltegan from Wicklow who used the age old formula where you look for your points and your goals look for themselves. The team from the garden county produced some towering scores from far out the field which was very hard to defend against but the Carryduff fledging’s kept their shape like a perfect sandwich (good around the edges with nothing protruding) to finish stronger but alas on the wrong side of the result.
This gave them some heart as they faced Tattyreagh GAC from Tyrone and this turned out to be an apprehensive match with two very evenly matched sides where chances were hard to get and Carryduff were somewhat unlucky to lose it.
This now meant that Carryduff qualified to face the hosts, Mullaghbawn in the Shield Semi-Final and it was a case of a big performance being needed.
The coaches knew that the girls had distilled experience from their earlier group matches and they had them convinced that they a great chance.
There was a multitude of emotions for the next of kin present (this writer can only speak for the males amongst them, never mind the women and children) as the Carryduff Camogs stepped into the arena but knowing the attitude of the players and their spirit, it was as the late, great Micheal O Muircheartaigh once said, it was now between God and the Referee.
It turned out to be an match full of absorbing action with each side giving little away. Carryduff were simply superb, abounding with more confidence and their players were like a patchwork quilt that contained many bright colours.
It was dramatic as both teams went looking to find the winner, the pendulum swinging both ways and as we were all looking at our watches, Mullaghbawn landed a sucker score to leave it a dramatic draw at the end of regulation time.
Extra time beckoned and both teams went at it full tilt to strive and pull clear. The supporters that were still breathing easily by this stage flexed their vocal muscles as if they might explode! The Armagh side edged ahead and then just as a Carryduff player was in full flight in a clear scoring position for a winner, there was controversy as a tug on their jersey was dubiously missed by the referee to dash their hopes for a final place.
What a day for this group of Carryduff Camogs, all the players involved contributed and never lost their heads or heart. This was their first close up view of a Feile Competition like this. Other teams had craft, they didn’t get as much leeway on the referring decisions but above all it was sporting.
Such a meaningful experience.
It is always important to remember the wise words of the Hurler’s Prayer that it “isn’t whether we won or lost, but how we played the game”.

As for these young Camogs, I have been thinking of the words of Alan Hansen, the former Liverpool soccer player (now thankfully recovering from illness) who infamously once said “You can’t win anything with kids”. I don’t know if Alan was ever in Mullaghbawn or Carryduff but just as he was proved dramatically wrong about his predication long, long ago, these group of Camogs have the world at their feet and in their sticks!

As for the Coaches involved in this group (they know who they are), they remind me of a generic mix of a character called Caractacus Potts from Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang.
Caractacus was a kind and well meaning inventor who would do anything to please his and indeed all children, no matter how hopeless and spent all his free time playing with them. He rebuilt them a car to have new adventures in and that is what these devoted group of coaches, each with all their own special characteristics have done. Take a bow!

Carryduff Players involved on this adventure were;
Abigail, Amelia, Annie, Aoibhe, Aoife G, Caitlin B, Caitriona, Caoimhe D, Caoimhe G, Cara, Emily, Erin, Evie, Fiona, Katie, Lucy, Olivia, Orla, Aoife McG, Caitlin F, Eodain, Ellie, Emma, Jessica and Sophia.


By communications Wed 26th Jun