BY CHRIS MCNULTY
BETWEEN 12 and 15,000 people are expected to converge on the parish of Cloughaneely next weekend as the local GAA club hosts the national finals of Comórtas Peile na Gaeltachta.
It is the first time since 1998 that Pairc Naomh Fionnan will host the event, which will bring a huge boost to the local economy as teams from Belfast, Galway, Mayo, Dublin, Cork, Waterford, Kerry and even London, as well as the strong Donegal representation, take part in the action-packed weekend.
The event was officially launched at a press conference last Wednesday night in Pairc Naomh Fionnan, which has undergone a big transformation.
A new boundary fence has been erected, additional stand facilities have been installed, as have new outdoor toilets, with the dressing room facilties totally overhauled.
“As I’m sure you can appreciate the fact that all this work was carried out during these difficult economic times makes it all the more amazing,” said club chairman Hughie McGarvey at the launch, noting that the level of grant available to previous host clubs wasn’t afforded to Cloughaneely due to the economic downturn.
“We could, I suppose, have been resigned to the fact that we would not be able to carry out as much work as was previously thought, but I am happy to report that club and community pulled together to ensure that all that needed to be done would be done and extra work was also carried out to ensure that visiting clubs and supporters would enjoy their Donegal experience.
“In essence the fighting spirit of the Cloughaneely people came through and the old adage that many hands make light work has been proven within Cloughaneely GAA club.”
“It is a great honour for us as a small rural club to host the National finals of Comortas Peile na Gaeltachta.
“The National competition is now 41 years old and we are promising that we will live up to previous years with top class football, super entertainment as well as a fair share of craic and banter.”
A large crowd attended the even last Wednesday night and Mr McGarvey said he hoped that all visitors to the area would appreciate the local hospitality. He added: “We also hope that they will remark upon the fine Donegal weather but that I’m afraid is something which we have no control over but perhaps Fr Séan can help out with that department!”
He paid tribute to the late Seosamh Kelly and mentioned former player Tommy Coyle ‘who was an inspiration to all within the club and always wore the jersey with the upmost pride and passion.”
Club stalwart John Kelly was in attendance and singled out by the chairman. Mr McGarvey said: “John must be credited with an abundance of work within the club and if truth be told there may not have been a club here today without his initial vision.”
He also paid tribute to another Falcarragh man, John Harkin, who lives in Mayo and is the National Chairman of Comortas Peile na Gaeltachta. “His knowledge and expertise have proven to be invaluable and I have to confess to picking his brain on many occasions regarding one thing or another,” he said.
“We as a club last hosted this competition in 1998 where we were runners up on that occasion, we don’t intend to be second best on this occasion and look forward to celebrating a successful weekend both on the field and off.”
Club secretary Eibhlín Ní Chuireain, Co Secretary Aodh Mairtín Ó Fearraigh and local Cllr Seamus O Domhniall also spoke at the event.
“The one big thing that I noticed was the pride in the work, against all the elements, it’s nothing short of amazing what has been done here,” said Cllr O Domhnaill.
“It is a credit to everyone. These things don’t happen overnight. It was an amazing task, a frightening task, but all obstacles were overcome and that is a testament to the people involved.
As well as the football a fully licensed marquee will functioning within the grounds with live nightly entertainment for those who are not playing football.
The events include:
Dé hAoine – 8pm Damhseóirí Quigley; 8.30pm Oscailt oifigiúil; 9.30pm Ceol ghaelach; 11.30pm – 2am Stray.
Dé Sathairn – 5-5.30pm Damhseóirí Nora Kavanagh; 9pm-11.30pm Céilí (Martin Duggan/Madge O’Grady); 11.30pm Dioscó.
Dé Domhnaigh – 2-2.30pm Damhseóirí Maureen Byrne; 4-6pm Ceol Tíre le Josie Cannon; 8.30-11.30pm – Copper plate ceilí band; 11.30pm Bronnadh Cailín Gaelach na féile; 12pm Dioscó.
BY CHRIS MCNULTY