Our Story:- Féile Peile na nÓg by David Henry

May 20th, 2017 | by stjamesgaa
Our Story:- Féile Peile na nÓg by David Henry
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Our Story:- Féile Peile na nÓg by David Henry

On Sunday 24 April 2016, St. James’ Football Club made history when they were crowned the National A County Champions for the first time. They captured the Niall McGinn Cup after defeating Claregalway by 1 – 6 to 0 – 4. The Juvenile section of St. James’ Club or the ‘Jimmies’ as they are known was formed in January 2007. This was to facilitate Gaelic games in Renmore, Mervue, Ballybane and the Parish of the Good Shepherd, Doughiska. The origin of the St. James’ GAA Club has a long history, but that is another story. It came into existence when Renmore and Mervue amalgamated some years ago to form one organisation. Prior to the amalgamation of the clubs, Mervue had captured the Féile title on two occasions; in 1983 and 1987, while Renmore won the cup in 1986. The 2016 Féile began for the Jimmies on the Saturday morning when they faced strong opposition from three powerful teams Oranmore-Maree, Bearna and Loughrea. The Jimmies came out on top in the opening game against Oranmore. They went on to excel in the next match against Bearna and proved worthy winners. A tough and close match against Loughrea was the decider after a great twenty-yard goal from Captain Eoin Finnerty sealing the win for the Jimmies. Winning three group games resulted with a semi-final between city rivals St. James’ and Salthill-Knocknacarra. The Jimmies were on top of their game from start to finish. Some fantastic team play and scores resulted in another win and secured a place in the County A Féile final. The Féile final against Claregalway was played in Pearse Stadium, the home of Galway football. The management team of Jimmy Gillespie, John Melody, Ronan McNulty, Mick Ralph and Stephen Diviney proved a successful combination and they made their mark on the history of the club and cup.

Furthermore, the Féile Peile na nÓg All-Ireland series was held in the Kingdom and James’ were tied with tough opposition in Division 1. This group consisted of teams such as Nemo Rangers, Austin Stacks and Laune Rangers. The first game up was between the hosts Laune Rangers and Tralee side Austin Stacks. Even though Rangers had the benefit of the breeze in the first half, it was Stacks that led at halftime by 3-1 to 1-2. Laune Rangers were much better in the second half with Rory O’Connor & Callum Moriarty linking defence and attack well, but having struck the post twice they also conceded a 4th goal that ultimately proved the difference. Laune Rangers scores came from Matt Leslie (1-1), Gearóid Hassett (0-6) & Eoin Hassett (1-1). The Full Time score:- Laune Rangers 2-8, Austin Stacks 4-3.
The second game was played between the two sides from outside the County, Cork’s Nemo Rangers and Galway’s St James’. An interesting factor to take in account was that Mervue G.A.A. played Nemo Rangers in the 1991 Inter-Provincial Football All-Ireland Minor club Semi-final. The game was played on Easter Saturday and it was the men from the west that emerged winners from this epic tie. Twenty five years later the clubs would do battle once more and it was Nemo Rangers who led at the break by 2-3 to 0-5 and even though St James’ would outscore their opponents by 8 scores to 7, Nemo’s goals was the only difference that separated the sides. The full time score was St James 0-8, Nemo Rangers 4-3. The Jimmies played extremely well and had some some excellent team plays which resulted with scores from Eoin Finnerty 0-4, Robbie Olusola 0-2, Liam Melody 0-1 and Daniel McNulty 0-1.
Game three witnessed St. James’ take the field once more to face Austin Stacks. Even though they played their second consecutive game, the Galway side grew into the game to lead by 1-0 to 0-2 at half time and would go on to win comfortably. The Jimmies opened the game on top from start to finish and added a tally of scores. Robbie Olusola 1-2, Eoin Finnerty 0-2, Gary Higgins 0-2, Ryan Corcoran 0-1 and Liam Melody 0-1 all raised the scoring flag. Final score:- St James 1-8, Austin Stacks 0-4. The Final game of the evening at JP O’Sullivan Park saw Laune Rangers & Nemo Rangers face off. An early goal gave Laune the perfect start, but Nemo dominated the rest of the half, and led at the break by 2-6 to 1-1. Nemo would maintain their lead through the second half to win on a Full Time Score:- Laune Rangers 2-3, Nemo Rangers 3-10. Scorers for Rangers:- Cian Naylor (1-0), Matt Leslie (1-1), Gearoid Hassett (0-1), Barry O’Connor (0-1).
The two defeats on Friday evening meant that Laune Rangers had the odds stacked against them for qualification to the Cup competition. They came up against the team they hosted for the weekend, St James of Galway, in the final game of the group stage. Calum Russell struck first with an early Laune Rangers goal to put his side ahead, but St James responded almost immediately. The visitors lead by 1-2 to 1-1 at Half Time. James’ were the better team on the day but Laune Rangers did not make it easy for the Jimmies. They never gave up on the game and pushed James’ right till the final minute. In the end the city side’s ability to kick crucial scores and their experience of winning tight games when not playing at their best was the difference. It was James’ that opened the game on top and set the tone early on. The versatile Eoin Finnerty struck three well-executed points in the game that helped his side proceed to the next stage of the tournament. This game was played at very high intensity and the standard of football was exceptional. Laune Rangers kept attacking the St. James’ defence and put them under a lot of pressure. Some tenacious and dogged defending from Jack Greaney, Ian Casserly, Daniel Hugman, Cian Gillespie, Daniel Kennedy, Matthew Mulvaney, Gary Higgins, Conor Long, Darragh Neary and Jack Folan prevented the boy’s in blue from taking the lead. Forwards, Dylan Spellman, Robbie Olusula. Liam Melody and Dessie Hynes made no mistake in taking their scores and added a tally of points to secure the win. James’ midfielders Eoin Finnerty and Daniel McNulty worked very hard and fielded a large amount of possession. Liam Melody added some crucial scores in the last ten minutes which helped James’ to keep their composure. Up front St. James’ Ryan Corcoran and John Ralph always looked like a threat and help from the sideline in the form of Leigh Nolan and Kyle Long meant St James’ were confident of a score no matter who was in possession. James’ tightened up in defence and goalkeeper James Egan won some great ball and retained possession for the Jimmies. James’ free flowing style of play and superior teamwork carried the day and was refreshing to witness. Scores for James’ on the morning were Liam melody 2-1, Daniel Mcnulty 0-1, Eoin Finnerty 0-3, Robbie Olusula 1-0, Dessie Hynes 1-0 and Dylan spelman 1-0. St James were a much stronger side in the second half and went on to answer anything Rangers would ask of them to secure a comfortable win in the end, as goals from Mark Clifford and Eoin Hassett would not be enough for the hosts. Final Score:- Laune Rangers 3-3, St James 5-5. Scorers for Rangers: Calum Russell (1-0), Mark Clifford (1-0), Eoin Hassett (1-0), Gearoid Hassett (0-3).
In addition, The Shield Quarter Final would prove a game too much for Rangers as it was all one way traffic in Fossa, unfortunately in the way of Dr Crokes. Rangers wouldn’t score until the stroke of halftime with a Gearoid Hassett free the only response to Crokes’ 2-4. Eoin Hassett’s second half goal would be nullified by three Crokes points and the Full Time score was:- Laune Rangers 1-1, Dr Crokes 2-7. Laune Rangers Féile Division One journey would end without a win, although that could have been different but for the tightest of defeats in Game One. The Hassett brothers Gearoid & Eoin were among the best servants to Laune Rangers, as was Sean Cleary, but special mention must be reserved for Rory O’Connor, who played a Captain’s role and drove on his team – especially in the latter stages.
Meanwhile, St James ended the Group Stage in 2nd place and qualified for the Cup Quarter Final, but were defeated by a strong Castleknock outfit, who went on to win the Division One Boys Féile title. The Jimmies battled till the end but ran out of steam and Castleknock had that extra bit of class and showed more initiative. Nevertheless, some great team plays resulted with some great scores. Among these was Eoin Finnerty 1-0, Liam Melody 1-0 and Daniel McNulty 0-1. The journey for All-Ireland glory ended at the quarter final stages. Everyone at the club are extremely proud of this group of players and management. It was noted that St James’ had the biggest support in Kerry that weekend. The amount of parents and supporters that travelled with the team was second to none. A big thank you to the Laune Rangers club for all their support over the weekend. A vast amount of energy was implemented prior to the weekend in Kerry. Finally, the club would like to thank all the people and companies who supported the many fundraising events.

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