It was the experience of a lifetime for the Laune Rangers group of Under 15 boys who travelled to the Connacht Centre of Excellence in Bekan, Co Mayo last Saturday for the Féile Peile nan Óg National Division 1 Finals.  The squad set off from JP O’Sullivan Park on Friday afternoon, staying together in hostel accommodation in Mayo on Friday night and again on Saturday night after competition, and returned home on Sunday.

The results didn’t go the way of the Kerry champions who were competing  among the top eight teams in the country.  The teams were broken into two groups.  New York, Athenry, Kilmacud Crokes & Carryduff (Down) were in Group 1 while Westport, Naas, Glanmire & Laune Rangers were in Group 2.

Naas 2-4, Laune Rangers 0-2.  The final score of this opening game does no justice to Laune Rangers, who dominated large parts of the game, but were denied on four separate occasions by the Naas goalkeeper and/or full back who stopped four certain goals.  A late second goal sealed the win for Naas as Laune Rangers were camped up field looking for a route back into the game.  Scorers for Laune Rangers were Bryan McKenna and Colm Evans with 0-1 each.

Glanmire 5-4, Laune Rangers 0-7.  A nightmare first half effectively ended this game as the Cork champions used their physical dominance to cut through the Laune Rangers defence with every opportunity and the breeze at their backs and they led by 4-3 to 0-1 as the team’s switched sides.  Laune Rangers did much better in the second half, but again they couldn’t ripple the opposition net with a number of chances due to some great saves by the goalkeeper.  The defence solidified with Daniel Kelly excelling in full back.  Scorers for Laune Rangers were Callum Robertson, Tomás Joy (2), Liam O’Connell, Ciarán Birmingham & Jamie Flynn (2).

Westport 2-2, Laune Rangers 1-3.  Laune Rangers continued the form they found in the second half of the second game into the final group game.  Unfortunately, Westport – eventual runners up of the overall competition – scored two second half goals, one from a penalty call that looked very harsh on the defence.  The second goal came with little time for Rangers to reply and denied them what would have been a deserved win.  Scorers for Laune Rangers were Colm Evans (1-1), Callum Robertson & Tomás Joy.

Shield Semi Final:- New York 3-9, Laune Rangers 1-2.  Laune Rangers were then drawn into the Shield Semi Finals against perennial competition favourites New York, who surprisingly missed out in qualifying in the top two of their group.  The Americans, coached by Glencar native Kenneth O’Connor, were too strong for Laune Rangers and eased to a 3-9 to 1-2 victory.  Scorers for Laune Rangers were goalscorer Jamie Flynn, Colm Evans & Mikey Hynes.

The competition was won by Kilmacud Crokes, who defeated Westport after extra time in the Final

The results of the weekend fade from memory over time, but the memories created over their weekend will be remembered for years to come.

Thanks to all our sponsors and donors, whose generosity made the weekend possible.  Thanks also to the families of the players who made the journey to Mayo for the weekend and contributed to a great festival atmospehere.  Huge thanks to the parents who volunteered to stay one or both nights in the accommodation to supervise the team, and to the players whose behaviour was exemplary throughout.  Finally, thanks must go to the organising committee led by Katrina Stack who spent the weeks since qualification making sure no stone was left unturned to ensure the squad had the best possible experience.

Laune Rangers Squad at Féile Peile na nÓg 2023:- Tomás Joy (capt), Ciarán Birmingham, Jack Buckley, Luke Carey, Pat Costello, Colm Evans, Jaego Ferris, Jamie Flynn, Charile Foley, Odhran Foley, Mikey Hynes, Daniel Kelly, Reece Mangan, Luke McGillicuddy, Fionn McGillycuddy, Cian McGrath, Bryan McKenna, Conor Murphy, Liam O’Connell, Fionán O’Connor, Liam O’Shea, Darragh O’Sullivan, Hugh O’Sullivan, Donnacha Prendiville, Fionnán Quigg, Adam Radny, Callum Robertson, Conor Sheehan, Cormac Sweeney, Henry Whittleton, Conor West, Myles Cahill, Noah Eaton.