The SPAR sponsored FAI schools 5 a side primary schools competition took place at City Calling Stadium last week. Once again this year this competition proved to be extremely popular with primary school children. In all 392 boys and 232 girls from primary schools in every corner of county Longford took part in the competition.
Local organiser Carmel Browne (Melview N.S.) commented:
“The task of organising the event efficiently and effectively is a mammoth one. It could not have happened without the help of a group of dedicated referees from the region”
The girls section was played on day one and 29 teams from 18 schools took to the field. The standard of play was exceptionally high and most games were decided by the odd goal. After successfully negotiating the group stages –in which teams played 3 competitive games, Kenagh and Fermoyle emerged to face each other in the A Cup section (for smaller schools). 2016 is the first year that this section has been available in the girls competition. Both sides showed excellent touches throughout the final, however it was the superior strength of the Kenagh girls and their ability to convert chances created that enabled them to emerge victorious. The girls from St. Dominic’s N.S., Kenagh will now go on to represent Longford in the North Leinster finals in the girl’s A cup on April 21st in Navan.
In the girls B cup for larger schools 21 teams participated. Once again the passing on display was crisp and sharp and the defending of a very high standard. The girls showed no fear as the cracked in goal after goal. Newly appointed FAI Longford Regional Development officer was very impressed with the level of skill on display. However local schoolboy league official Tom Cunningham commented that “it is a great pity that many of the girls participating have no opportunity to play competitive games at club level due to the lack of girl’s teams in the league”. After the round robin group stages teams from Newtownforbes, Killoe, Stonepark, Melview, Dromard and Ardagh emerged as group winners. Those teams competed in the knock out stages. Following a number of hard fought tense games Ardagh and Melview successfully negotiated the final hurdles to go on to represent Longford in the North Leinster finals.
The boys/mixed competition took place on 12th and 14th of April. 392 pupils from 19 different schools participated. This year the boy’s A cup (small schools) was of an extremely high standard. It was fantastic to see Granard, Dromard and Tashinny schools participating in the competition for the first time. Their skill certainly added to the competition. However the more experienced teams from Fermoyle, Kenagh and Forgney showed that they were not going to be easily pushed aside! After the round robin group stages Fermoyle proved tactically too strong for the skillful Granard side to reach the final. In the other half of the draw Kenagh emerged to play newcomers Dromard in the other semi-final. This proved to be a cracking game with Kenagh racing into a 2 goal lead only to be pegged back by Dromard. The sides shared a goal each in the second half and the game ended 3 all. They could not be separated in extra time either so the match had to be decided on penalties.
What a penalty shootout it turned out to be! Players from both teams struck the first 5 penalties in style to make it 5 5 in the penalty shootout; sudden death ensued and the teams continued to be inseparable until finally after 10 penalties each Dromard managed to sneak through 8-7. While all this was happening Fermoyle under the expert stewardship of county manager Denis Connerton were waiting in the wings for the final. Many neutrals felt it could be their day after all the exertions of the Dromard boys in the semi-final. Once the final started however, there could be no doubt that both teams were up for it. They exchanged goals in both halves and the game ended 3-3. Once again they could not be separated in extra time so penalties ensued. The experience of the semi- final was beneficial to the Dromard boys and this time they won 4-2 on penalties to be crowned Longford A cup champions. No doubt the young Fermoyle side will be a force to be reckoned with next year.
The boys B cup was made up of 27 teams from each corner of the county. In this section the group stages were strongly contested. The skill level of the players was evident from the onset. Local organiser Carmel Browne commented that “It was heart-warming to see so many players equally proficient with left and right foot and to observe most teams wanting to play the ball on the ground with a high level of passing and movement”. The participating teams were divided into 6 groups for the round robin phase.
Following the group games the teams in 2 of the groups could only be separated by goal difference while a third group required a playoff which resulted in a penalty shootout win for Melview Lions over Newtownforbes 5th. Melview Eagles, Gaelscoil, Stonepark and Newtownforbes 6th also won their groups.
In the knockout phase Group 1 winners Newtownforbes played St. Emer’s (Group 2 winners); Group 5 winners Gaelscoil played Colmcille A (Group 6 Winners); while the two Melview teams were drawn against each other as they won Groups and 4 respectively! Results Newtownforbes 3-2 St. Emer’s; Gaeilscoil 4-2 Colmcille A; Melview Eagles 3-3 Melview Lions – Melview Eagles won 4-2 on penalties after extra time failed to produce a goal.
Following these games the three remaining teams Newtownforbes, Melview Eagles and Gaelscoil played a round robin competition to decide on overall winners. In the first game Melview Eagles defeated Gaelscoil 2-1; Newtownforbes and Gaelscoil ended 2-2; in the final game fatigue finally set in as Newtownforbes ran out winners against Melview Eagles.
On an experimental basis we organised a separate blitz for 4th class pupils this year. This competition also proved very successful with Stonepark 4th winning the final, so we intend to open it up to all interested schools in 2017.
Congratulations to the winners in all competitions. Best of luck to all of you as you proceed to represent Longford in the North Leinster finals in the MDL grounds Navan on Thursday next April 21st. In Navan the Longford winners will compete against winners from Meath, Westmeath and Louth. Let’s hope we can continue the tradition of recent years when teams representing Longford have gone on to win the Leinster finals and play in the National finals in the AVIVA stadium.
Many thanks to all the schools who participated and their teachers who accompanied them on each day, to all the local referees in particular Damien Jordan who ensured the competition ran smoothly and especially to Liam Healion (LTFC) for his help in setting up pitches in difficult circumstances.
The SPAR FAI Primary School 5s competition has been in existence since the mid 1990’s and saw nearly 20,000 participants from 1,069 schools involved last season. The competition is run across six divisions, ensuring that schools of all sizes are catered for. Depending on their size a school can enter several teams into the competition. Boys and girls are encouraged to play together but there is a separate competition for boys and girls dependent on school enrolment numbers.
Fergus McDaid, Secretary of FAI Schools stated,
“This is our second year with title sponsors SPAR and the competition is expanding year on year. The support shown by SPAR ensured this grassroots initiative really supports Longford’s local talent. The event encourages children to become involved in soccer at an early age and emphasizes the fun aspect of the sport. FAI Schools are delighted to be hosting the Finals on Wednesday, May 11 in Aviva Stadium, something which the children will relish I’m sure.”
Newly appointed FAI Regional Development Officer Graham Kane and 5 a side local organiser Carmel Browne intend to organise a 7 or 9 a side competition for local primary schools in the coming months. Schools will be notified of dates by email.