Bere Island set for unique contest

CONOR COUNIHAN and company aren’t the only Cork team chasing an All-Ireland senior football title this month.

This weekend, Bere Island hosts the All Islands football tournament on their refurbished grounds, and the club’s secretary Brendan Murphy is relishing the events planned on, and off, the field.

He explained: “This competition is going for about 12 or 14 years but has become massive in recent times.

“It a huge thing both in terms of football and socialising with other islanders. I remember one of the first years of the tournament we had about 18 travelling to one of these tournaments; a year or two ago we had over 120.

“This weekend we are expecting up to 500 people to come to the island which is a huge boost for the local economy in these times. We will have nine men’s teams and seven women’s sides playing in the group games on Saturday and the finals are fixed for Sunday.”

And what of their own form? Murphy, who doubles as the team’s senior manager, is cautiously optimistic.

“We’re going pretty well. Home advantage counts for a lot in these kind of tournaments as lads will be home early and they get to sleep in their own beds.”

One of their most recent outings has already entered the history books. Earlier this month they defeated Urhan in the Beara divisional JBFC semi-final – the first time the island hosted a championship game.

Murphy continued: “We are after doing a big job on the field. We got some funding through the islands department, and we built a new club house and did extensive work on the pitch. It was great to host a match – and even better to win it.”

The three Aran Islands from Galway. Inishbofin, Inishturk and Clare Island from Mayo along with Arranmore island from Donegal are confirmed while Murphy reports that Sherkin and Cape Clear are considering sending teams.

Murphy continued: “You could say that this is going against the grain – at a time when many traditions are dying out, this tradition is flourishing. It is the one event that islanders map out and plan for every year.”

The weekend kicks off tomorrow evening with a buffet catering for over 350 hungry mouths. For Murphy it will be a chance to catch up on the last 12 months happenings.

“Great friendships have grown out of it over the years,” he said, “and I hope that continues.”

And any romances? “Not that I know of. But who knows. We’ll have a couple of bachelors here...”

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