The Bee Park, home of Manorhamilton Rangers FC, played host to the Leitrim county finals of the Spar FAI Primary School 5s programme on Thursday.
The programme has seen participation figures grow year-on-year to become the largest primary schools’ competition in the country.
130 students from 11 schools participated in the Leitrim county final with just four schools progressing to the provincial finals. The Leitrim finals day brought the two best teams from the north and south Leitrim qualifiers in each section from the overall 20 schools involved and over 380 players which took part.
The ‘A’ Cup, open to boys and/or mixed teams from small schools, had four passionate schools with the historic final with Gortletteragh NS as their ‘A’ & ‘B’ team reached the final in their first ever year taking part in the competition. Gortletteragh NS ‘A’ triumphed in what was a thrilling contest.
The ‘B’ Cup, for medium-sized schools, again proved to be a compelling division with four teams involved. The final was eventually decided on by a narrow margin in a close contest. Four Master NS, Kinlough, proved a little too strong over a talented Scoil Chlann Naofa NS, Ballinamore side in an entertaining game.
The winners will now progress to the Connacht Final on May 4 in Solar 21 Park, Castlebar.
Participation in the girls division reached an all-time high this year with 11,272 fourth, fifth and sixth class girls registered nationwide.
The Girls ‘A’ and ‘B’ Cup finals alongside the boys/mixed team divisions were held on the one day so there was a fantastic atmosphere throughout the competition.
In the Girls ‘A’ Cup, for small schools, Carrigallen NS defeated Drumkeeran NS in a really exciting and hard-fought match. Carrigallen were outstanding throughout the day to win all their games and remain undefeated.
In the Girls ‘B’ Cup final, for medium-sized schools, St. Clare’s NS, Manorhamilton, sealed qualification to the next stage after they overcame a tough challenge from Gaelscoil Liatroma, Carrick-on-Shannon.
The competition has been in existence since the mid-1990s and has 28,256 participants from 1,483 schools involved this year, a 19 percent surge from last year.
The competition is run across six divisions, ensuring that schools of all sizes are catered for. Boys and girls are encouraged to play together but there is a separate competition for boys and girls dependent on school enrolment numbers.
Fergus McDaid, secretary of FAI Schools stated: “This is our third year with title sponsors Spar and the competition has grown yet again and now firmly holds the title of the largest primary schools’ competition in the country. Spar’s ongoing support, both nationally and at a local level, has ensured the ongoing success of the programme and given Leitrim children an opportunity to get involved in a professionally-run, fun and inclusive programme. The programme encourages children to become involved in soccer at an early age and emphasises the fun aspect of the sport. FAI Schools look forward to welcoming schools to the national finals on Wednesday, May 31, in the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. We would also like to extend our thanks to all schools who have participated in 2017.”
Colin Donnelly, Spar sales director said: “As a community based retailer, Spar encourages a healthy and active lifestyle and is proud to be a supporter of primary schools’ soccer in association with the FAI. Spar local retailers around the county have been getting behind the programme, which encourages children to get involved in soccer in a fun, safe and inclusive environment.”
Winner Runner Up
‘A’ Cup | Small Schools | Gortletteragh NS ‘A’ Gortletteragh NS ‘B’
‘B’ Cup | Medium Schools | Four Master NS, Kinlough Scoil Chlann Naofa NS, Ballinamore
Girls ‘A’ Cup Carrigallen NS Drumkerran NS
Girls ‘B’ Cup St. Clare’s NS, Manorhamilton Gaelscoil Liatroma, Carrick-on-Shannon