Féile Peil na nÓg, the national festival of under age Gaelic Football comes to the Portlaoise this weekend with the hosting of the national finals in Laois / Offaly with the assistance of clubs in the neighbouring counties of Kildare and Westmeath.
Féile Peil chairman, Peter O’Neill is looking forward to the weekend getting underway, after months of preparation.
“I’m really looking forward to the weekend. It’s a unique experience and I was honoured to be nominated by Laois to chair the committee. I have attended Féile with Portlaoise in other counties and I always wanted it to come to Laois. It’s nice to return the compliment to counties that have hosted us over the years and it’s also fantastic PR for the GAA in Laois.
“It’s a showcase for the county and I hope people get out with their flags and bunting to support the teams taking part and our own teams.”
As an Offaly man, living in Laois, Mr O’Neill said the co-operation between Laois and Offaly had been fantastic. He also had praise for the clubs in Westmeath and Kildare who are hosting teams.
This was echoed by GAA President, Liam O’Neill who said hosting the festival was a tribute to the strength of the GAA in both counties.
“It’s a tribute to Laois and Offaly clubs that they have been deemed strong enough to hold this event. They have a good reputation, having jointly hosted the hurling last year and in 1989.”
He said people didn’t realise how important the GAA was to the local economy.
“This is a showcase for Laois Tourism, if people like what they see, they will bring their families back in the future. A huge effort has been made by all the host clubs to tidy up and get themselves organised.”
The 32 counties of Ireland will be represented at the competition, along with teams from San Francisco, Philadelphia and New York. The UK will be represented by Lancashire, Hertfordhsire, Warickshire, Yorkshire, Gloucestershire and Scotland. Boy’s teams from both North and South London will travel over while New York will field teams in both the boys and ladies competitions.
An Uachtaran Cumann Luthchleas Gael said the friendships formed at Feile lasted a lifetime. He recalled attending a hurling Féile in Longford, 20 years ago and said he was still great friends with some of the people he met that weekend.
“The friendships that come out of it are also a huge benefit. It’s amazing the number of friendships that come out of it. Adult clubs will have arranged to come and play other clubs down here over the weekend, and they will also stay with some of the local families.”
Peter O’Neill was grateful to the representatives from the GAA and both the mens and ladies senior footballers from both counties who spent time visiting local schools, promoting the feile.
On Saturday games will be played in thirty eight venues, across Laois and Offaly to decide the semi finalists who will play off on Saturday evening for the right to compete in the Féile finals on Sunday in O’Moore Park, and Portlaoise GAA Grounds. A total of ten finals will take place during the day with the presentations to be made by Liam O’Neill and Uachtaran Cumann Peil na mBan Pat Quill.