We headed for Féile ’19 in Connacht full of hope & excitement for a feast of football over last weekend June 28-30th. This is the Austin Stacks story . . .
(written by Dave Scanlon).
On the Friday evening we had two games, firstly against Salthill/Knocknacarra followed by Naas.
Group Game 1: Austin Stacks 8-8 Salthill/Knocknacarra 1-5
The manner of the display against the Galway lads showed our boys meant business as we gave the home side no time to settle & with Colm Browne driving through the heart of their defence from our half & firing into the top corner within five minutes, for what was surely a contender for goal of the tournament. With our backs led by the fantastic Sean Moynihan the Salthill forwards could only shoot from distance as Luke Casey & Daniel Kirby cleared the ball time & time again. Meanwhile our forwards hit the net five more times before the half had ended to finish the game as a contest. Liam Moroney, Paddy Lane, Damien Hogan & two from Aaron Nolan were all on target while Michael Tansley made two great reflex saves just on halftime to prevent a comeback.
Salthill battled to the end but another Hogie special followed by fine points from the deadly Noah Townsend & another by Togor Silong after a lung bursting run from midfield gave the locals no way back. Steven Conway replaced Mike Tansley in goals & his kick outs were pin point to his team mates while he dealt with a few high balls into the square with ease, all the training with his uncle is paying off !! The tough tackling Jamie Horgan sured up the defence with every ball going into his marker being won by him & putting Salthill on the back foot with his smart distribution. Jack Slattery worked tirelessly on the wing, always giving the backs an ‘out’ ball, while Ronan Mulrooney was out in front of his man cutting out any attacks that came his way.
Jamie O Shea covered every inch of grass & was rewarded for his efforts with his best impression of Lionel Messi on the end line with a right legged roll back before finishing to the net with his left !! It was a great start to the weekend with Jack Murphy back to his brilliant best after a lengthy injury going back to last years Lee Strand tournament.
Group Game 2: Austin Stacks 1-8 Naas 1-2
Next up for us were Naas. This would prove to be a game of two halves as the saying goes. Naas goaled early on but once our hard running half forwards hit fifth gear we quickly cancelled that goal & moved into a seven point lead by halftime with Paddy Lane playing out of his skin & Noah Townsend with Jamie O Shea unstoppable. Mark Lynch added another fine point with the right foot as we put some distance between ourselves & the Naas boys. Luke Fitzgerald seemed to be everywhere on the pitch, making runs, getting in the tackles & breaking their lines with his power & pace & he’s under age again next year ! When Hogie scored his third goal in two games before halftime it looked like the second half would be a formality but Naas upped the pace & only one point would be scored in the whole second period, a free for Naas. Both defences dug in with ours superb with Togor twice diving full stretch to prevent Naas scores. It was then Sean Heaslip’s turn to block a Naas forwards kick at goal before the teak tough Daniel Kirby did the same. Padraig O Halloran used his blistering pace to break Naas hearts time after time going in for balls that God nor man would win but his desire to win is second to none. We probably should have added to our tally in the second half but some last ditch defending inside the square with arms, legs & everything else being used to stop the ever improving Thomas Dereke from scoring at least two goals.
The boys now set off for the Salthill prom for some much needed sea water recovery before the short journey to Moycullen for a good nights sleep with the host families, we hoped they would sleep at least !
Group Game 3: Austin Stacks 5-7 Moycullen 7-4
Saturday morning in Moycullen & the sun was beating down & the locals were out in force to cheer on the green & white against us. As we had already qualified for the Quarter finals the Stacks boys were very relaxed before the game & our hosts took full advantage. We started at a blistering pace & after twelve minutes of the half gone we led 4-2 to 2pts. Liam Moroney with two lovely points, Thomas Dereke providing to be a handful for the home fullback with two goals & the other two goals from Togor Silong & Jamie O Shea. Adam O Carroll was winning ball all over the field, pulling kick outs out of the sky as he improves with every game & is showing the levels he can reach. Everything was going to plan then we went back to sleep for the next three minutes & in that time the home team somehow found the net four times to leave us level at halftime 4-2 a piece. Our lads were rocked & before we knew it Moycullen had added three more goals to leave us with an impossible task. Our boys dug deep with Marc Carmody leading the fight back out on the wing & the lads responded. Noah with three points lifted the siege & when Colm Browne, Paddy Lane & Jack Murphy start to run at a defence anything is possible. The game was now being played inside the home 45 but we couldn’t get a goal for all the possession. Togor pointed from distance before Damien hit the net but we ran out of time going down by three points. The final whistle was met with a huge cheer & pitch invasion by the home support. Moycullen were fully deserving winners for what was our first competitive loss of the year & credit to them for giving everything.
There was no time for post-mortems though as we were back on the road heading to Tuam for a Cup Quarter final with Westport. From here on there would only be winners going forward to the Connacht Centre of Excellence & losers going home !
Féile Div 1 Quarter Final:
Austin Stacks 3-3
This would prove to be our best performance of the weekend as with eight teams left at this stage we weren’t just playing County winners but teams that had finished in the top two in their groups of Hosts & County winners. Unfortunately we had lost Aaron Nolan to a calf strain & what a loss he would prove to be.
Westport had a giant of a lad in midfield who could catch like our own ‘Star’, he was their go to player but not in Tuam against Colm Browne. Time after time Colm broke the ball away from him & if he did manage to catch it Colm chased him around the pitch & if he got passed Colm the odd time, he then had to get passed Jack Murphy !!
Westport were rattled & Hogie with two points, one from play & one free, & the human dynamo Noah with the other to put us three up.
In our half the two Sean’s, Moynihan & Heaslip along with Luke Casey were cleaning up. At the short whistle we lead by three & had kept the Mayo lads scoreless.
There was barely five minutes gone when Noah found the net but Westport got 1-1. This time though the Rock boys were focused & Jamie O Shea made no mistake from the penalty spot after Thomas Dereke was pulled down. Our heart rates had hardly gone back to a safe beat when Liam Moroney put the final nail in the coffin with a back post palm in to put us into the semi final in Mayo on Sunday against South London.
This time we had our recovery session in Furbo beach near Barna before heading to Moycullen for a BBQ & presentations in their club house. Both Richie Conway & Chairperson Mairead Fernane spoke eloquently on behalf of the our club as we presented a Kieran Donaghy signed framed jersey to the host club.
Féile Div 1 Semi Final: Austin Stacks 0-2 South London 1-2
The Connacht Centre of Excellence near Knock was cold & wet with semi finals & finals from thirteen divisions being held there. We would like to thank Kieran Donaghy for his talk with the players after we arrived, taking time out of his schedule to pass on some words of wisdom to this group of talented young boys. South London hadn’t got this far by mistake & they would prove to be tough opponents, well coached with a fair bit of skill to boot. We struggled with their physical presence all over the pitch & set up like a Northern team our running game was not going to be as fluid as before this weekend. By halftime we had failed to score while South London had one point, which tells its own story. Whoever managed to find the net first was going to win in a game as tight as this & it was London who did after a break away up the field. We laid siege to their goal but just couldn’t find a way though. To get so close was heart breaking but only one team was going through & South London had a game plan which suited their style of play & fair dues to them.
The weekend will live in these boys memories for years to come, from ducking each other in Galway Bay & 99s on the bus to the heart break in Mayo & we would like to thanks those who made it possible:
- To our Féile Fundraising committee, a huge thank you. Ann Heaslip, Lorraine Scanlon, Edel Fitzgerald, Liam Lynch, Audrey Lane & Richie Conway, we couldn’t have done this without your time & effort.
- To the Austin Stacks Club Executive for their support.
- To Juvenile Club Secretary Mike Lynch for his help with all the paperwork.
- To Lidl for the bag packing.
- To Mike our mad bus driver who always had a joke on hand.
- To our three main sponsors John Lane & sons, John Flynn Construction & Kellihers Hardware Rock Street who kitted out the entire Under 14 squad & coaches, a huge THANK YOU !!
- To those who sponsored ‘spot prizes’ for our Table quiz, too many to mention. Francie Breen for the PA & Andrew Morrissey for being the MC for the quiz.
- Morgan O Connell for the First Aid kit.
- To all at Moycullen GAA Club for the welcome & hospitality.
- For all the supporters within the club who travelled to Galway & Mayo last weekend, especially Mairead Fernane, Tim McMahon & Colm Mangan.
- Wayne Quillinan for the talk before we left.
- To Kieran Donaghy & Sean Quilter for the support in Mayo, it meant a lot to the players.
- To all seven coaches involved with this team, William Kirby who drove from Galway to South Kerry & back in a day to be back for the semi, Richie Conway, Eamon Heaslip, Wayne Guthrie, Dale Counihan, Ronan Kavanagh & Dave Scanlon.
- To all the parents who had to buy into the Feile experience for the team to do so well.
- To Tim Mc Mahon & Ciara Nix for their Instagram & Twitter updates, keeping everyone at home up-to-date on our progress.
- And finally to the 24 players who wore the jersey so proudly & gave everything in Connacht last weekend, we were close, so very close.