Where do we start when it comes to Féile. Historical records show that prior to the St. James formation in 1994, Mervue and Renmore GAA had many great battles in the Féile and Mervue GAA claimed the A title on two occasions, 1983 and 1987. In 1986 Renmore got to the Féile final after beating Mervue in a marathon three games in Galway and claimed Féile glory. Both clubs went onto represent the county at National level but were narrowly beaten in the All-Ireland finals.

In addition, when the juvenile merger occurred in 2007, the Jimmies reached the Féile B final in 2010 but were beaten in Tuam Stadium by Kilconly. The following year saw more heartbreak as the city outfit lost the A final to Craughwell by a single point in Pearse Stadium. Fast forward to 2016, St. James captured the A title defeating Claregalway in the final at Pearse Stadium.

It has been 5 years up until last Sunday since the club were last in a Féile final and no one would have predicted the outcome. The Tommy Kelly Memorial Cup sits in the trophy cabinet of Cumann Theach Pa Grealish this week. The story begins last Saturday morning when Féile manager Johnny Regan and his band of brothers took to the field in Mervue for Féile 2021. The sun was beaming down and temperature levels were rising. The James team took on St. Michael’s in the opening round and emerged winners after a tough encounter. The Battle of the Saints finished 3-3 to 2-0 in favour of the Jimmies. Claregalway then played St. Michael’s in what was a good game of football. St. Michael’s won the match 3-6 to 1-9. The final group between St. James and Claregalway was a close game and at this stage in the day players were beginning to fatigue. Nevertheless, the Jimmies pulled it out of the bag and won 1-5 to 0-3.

After the group games, it was the host club that sat on top of the table and word from out West saw Clifden advance to the semi-final. The semis took place in Mervue that evening at 6pm  and this was one tight game for a finish. Regan’s side took off to a flyer and netted three goals in the opening period. Clifden clawed their way back into the game but they ran out of time and a Cian Corcoran penalty was the difference on the evening. The score finished 4-3 to 3-4. After the game the celebrations and sense of achievement was acknowledged by everyone in attendance. The squad enjoyed some light refreshments from Papa John’s Pizza in Merlin Park. Families and club members waited until the sun had gone in to go home. The buzz in Mervue that evening was electric to say the least.

Tuam Stadium was the venue for the Féile Final and the opposition were Craughwell. Was it a case that history was going to repeat itself? or were St. James’ going to advance and claim the Tommy Kelly Cup? There was 30 minutes to decide either teams fate and the game started with James’ scoring the opening point. However, Craughwell took the lead shortly after and registered 1-2 in the opening half. Another Cian Corcoran goal got the Jimmies back into the game and the city side led by the narrowest of margins at the interval. The second half saw James’ dominate possession but it was not reflected on the scoreboard. The match winner came from another Cian Corcoran goal and this time it was a penalty that sealed the win.

Referee Tony Keating of Tuam Stars blew the whistle after Craughwell had one last attempt on James’ goalkeeper Matthew Diviney. Epic scenes followed in Tuam as St. James’ created history yet again. Cian Corcoran received the Man of the Match award and captain Christian Joyce lifted the Tommy Kelly cup a loft. After all the photographs and celebrations in Tuam, it was time for these young players to celebrate this great achievement with a tour of the parish. A sea of green and maroon flags followed around the East side of Galway City and afterwards it was back to the club for more pizza and light refreshments.

When reflecting on the weekend, all the players played extremely well and everyone played their part. In goals was the great Matthew Diviney who put on some display of goalkeeping. The backs were outstanding and had great leaders in Ed O’Reilly, Darragh Finnerty, Sean Mulhare, Dara McGrath, Mikey Bradbury, Evan Comer and MacDara Scanlon. In midfield was the reliable and match winner Cian Corcoran and alongside him was the versatile Paddy Bradbury. Up front there was great performances from Matthew Jones, Christian Joyce, Mark Farragher, Malachy King, Evan Irwin, Sean Flynn, Ethan Shaughnessy Harte, Luke McArdle, Mikey Smith, Liam Connelly and Billy Regan. Also well done to players that were injured that were part of the weekend including Jack Malone and Evan Coyne.

Congratulations are extended to the management team of Johnny Regan, Colin Murphy, Tom Frain, Stephen Diviney and Denise Shaughnessy. Thanks to the Féile coordinator David Henry and his team of helpers which included Jimmy Gillespie, Alan O’Donnell and Mattie Harte.