After an excellent start to Division 2, Gaeil Fhánada switch their attention to the Comórtas Peile na Gaeltachta
For the first time in the club’s history, Gaeil Fhánada will host the Donegal finals of Comórtas Peile na Gaeltachta this weekend, with an action packed two days expected in Páirc Uí Shiadhail on Sunday and Monday.
The club were originally due to host this competition back in 2020, and had their plans well underway, before everything was curtailed due to Covid-19. It was a similar fate last year, but with 2022 came new hope, and there was a feeling of excitement within the club when it was finally announced earlier in the year that this year’s competition would go ahead.
The weekend's festivities will include 10 games, five on Sunday, and five on Monday with six trophies to be battled for over the course of the two days.
The weekend will officially begin with Aifreann i nGaeilge in Fanavolty Chapel at 9am on Sunday morning, before action moves to Páirc Uí Shiadhail for five games during the afternoon and evening.
There will be a huge local interest in the first of those fixtures, as Gaeil Fhánada will face off against Gaoth Dobhair in the Junior men’s semi-final at 1pm. Gaoth Dobhair will also feature in the afternoon’s second game, as they play against Ard an Ratha in the senior men’s semi final at 2:30pm.
It’s Naomh Muire Íochtar na Rosann against Cloich Cheann Fhaola in the second Junior men’s semi final at 4pm while Naomh Conaill and Na Dúnaibh will do battle in the final senior semi-final, which is pencilled in for 5:30pm.
The first piece of silverware will be handed out after the final game of Sunday’s schedule as the final of the U15 Boys competition will take place at 7:15pm. Attention will then revert to Fanad Lighthouse, as the Cailín Gaelach competition is scheduled for 9pm, while all roads will then lead to the Fanad Lodge for the Oíche Shoisialta with Comhaltas Fhánada at 10pm.
Five further trophies will be handed out on Monday, with the action starting at 10:30am in the morning when An Clochán Liath and An Tearmann will battle it out for the Junior Ladies title. The Intermediate Ladies decider is down for decision at midday where Na Dúnaibh will meet Naomh Columba.
That game will be followed by the Junior men’s final at 2pm, and then the showpiece event of the weekend, the Senior men’s final, which is down for decision at 3:45. The curtain comes down on the action at 5:30pm, as An Tearmann and Gleann Fhinne do battle for the senior ladies title.
Gaeil Fhánada Club President, Charlie McAteer, spoke earlier this week of the importance of this competition to the club down through the years as he reminisced of past battles and victories. He has been impressed with the work undertaken by the current committee in their preparation and is looking forward to welcoming people from all around the county to Páirc Uí Shiadhail over the weekend.
The home side will take part in the Junior men’s competition, but will face stiff competition from the Naomh Muire senior team, and two of the best reserve teams in the county, Gaoth Dobhair and Cloich Cheann Fhaola as they bid to add a fourth Junior County title having previously won the trophy in 2006, 2013, and 2018.
In each of those years, Gaeil Fhánada went on to reach the All-Ireland final, but as Charlie recalled, 2013 in Gaeltacht na Rinne was the most special of days as Oileán Árann were defeated after extra time as they picked up their one and only All Ireland crown.
The late Paddy Shiels provided the inspiration for that result, finding the back of net as all seemed lost to rescue the game for the Fanad, before they secured their extra time victory.
The senior men’s competition sees Gaoth Dobhair, Ard an Ratha, Naomh Conaill and Na Dúnaibh doing battle. Ard an Ratha and Gaoth Dobhair faced off in the league a couple of weeks ago, with only three points between the teams on that occasion. Naomh Conaill have made a bright start to their Division 1 campaign, while Downings have been steady in Division 2 thus far, but boast some very dangerous attacking players who can cause serious damage on their day.
The familiar foes of Gleann Fhinne and An Tearmann face off in the senior ladies decider. Na Dúnaibh will be regarded as favourites to win the Intermediate crown against Naomh Columba while An Clochán Liath will face off against the second team of an Tearmann in the Ladies Junior Final.
Club chairman, Brendan Mc Ateer outlined the improvements which have occurred at the venue in recent times in anticipation of this event.
The new pitch was opened in 2018, and since then a spectator fence has been added along with a new stand, a storage shed and shop. He also spoke of the anticipation among members, explaining that there has been a real buzz around the club in recent weeks as the preparations have ramped up.
Brendan spoke of huge voluntary effort from within the community, and also referenced the help and support of Charlie Ó Dónaill, secretary of the Donegal Comórtas Peile na Gaeltachta Committee. There’s no doubt that the stage is set in Páirc Uí Shiadhail for what promised to be a special weekend in the history of CLG Ghaeil Fhánada.
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