While the League of Ireland outfit were recording a 2-0 Intertoto Cup win over local outfit Valur, Tralee teenagers were impressing at the 41st International Children’s Games in the Icelandic capital.
The Irish representatives were amongst 1,000 children from 36 countries and 64 cities participated in the Games which according to its mission statement: “aims to enable, develop and advance the meeting, understanding and friendships of students from different countries and advance the Olympic ideals.”
Tralee’s seven a side soccer team, managed by John Byrne and selected from the Park and the Kingdom boys played and beat Sparta of Greece (4-0); Ravne na Koroskem of Slovenia (4-0); Innsbruck of Austria (1-1); Raanana of Israel (2-1) Brescia of Italy (1-0) en route to the final.
However they were defeated by Austria’s Innsbruck 2-0 in the decider and had to be content with silver.
Tralee had an unlikely support base for that final as Cork City players and supporters put intercounty rivalry aside for a few hours to cheer on Byrne’s side. So impressed were City chiefs that they invited the Tralee youngsters to Turner’s Cross on Saturday for the second leg of their European tie.
But soccer isn’t the end of Tralee talents. In athletics, Dearbhail Foley clocked the fourth fastest time of the week en route to the 100m final. Foley, the first Tralee athlete to make a final at the Games, finished sixth.
The girl’s relay team of Foley, Ailbhe Courtney, Katie Rogers and Molly McGilton also made the final but lost out on bronze to Darmstadt of Germany despite a stunning final leg by McGilton.
Jamie Byrne, Danny O’Connor, Stephen Walsh also impressed in their events while Avrill Peevers, Deirdre Lawlor and Ciaran Crowley made history as Ireland’s first representatives at the inaugural golf competition at the Games.
Chairman Michael Culloty was naturally proud. He said: “The standard of performance in all three disciplines was excellent in quality and effort, as seen by the results, and reflects well on both athletes and coaches. The children and adults will have many happy memories of the games, and indeed of what we saw in Iceland, particularly the trip to the geothermal waters of the Blue Lagoon, and the Midnight Run. Sincere gratitude to everyone who supported us and helped us to increase the profile of our town on a world stage.”
Athletics: Jamie Byrne, Ailbhe Courtney, Katie Rogers, Molly Mc Gilton, Dearbhail Foley , Danny O Connor, Stephen Walsh.
Soccer: Shane O Callaghan, Ciaran Higgins, Sean O Reilly, Bill Mullins, Aaron O Connor, Laurence Bastible, Anthony Mac Donnell, Diarmuid Lee, Kieran O Mahony.
Golf: Deirdre Lawlor , Avrill Peevers, Ciaran Crowley.
Members of Delegation: Siobhan O Nuallain, Michelle Culloty, John Byrne, Damien Mc Loughlin.
Head of delegation: Mike Culloty.