Thousands arrive as Féile fever strikes Cork

MARC SHEEHAN hits you with a blizzard of statistics. There’ll be 4,200 children in action in Cork over the next three days in the 2011 instalment of Féile na nÓg, lining out for 181 teams and going into action in 40 venues.

There’s 101 local sides from Cork competing, along with 80 visiting clubs, with all of the 32 counties represented and nine travelling from overseas.

For Sheehan, chairman of the organising committee, there have been plenty logistical hurdles to surmount in bringing all of this together: “It’s a significant undertaking. Preparations really started in January 2010 but they were at a very preliminary stage then. Since last autumn, it’s been flat out really.

“Generally the competition is a Friday to a Sunday gig but that wasn’t possible this year with the Munster football final on Sunday. So we’re fairly stretched trying to cover everything. Today and tomorrow are working days for a lot of people, so we’re very grateful to everyone who’s helping out, like the venue coordinators, the referees and all the clubs.

“It’s a massive national event which will give great profile to the GAA in Cork and is the first time since 1986 that Cork have hosted it. Also on a business side it generates a lot for hotels, restaurants and bus companies. There’s a serious influx of people into Cork over the weekend.

“For example there are a lot of teams from abroad coming to Cork as well as from around the country. From England, we’ve North London, South London, Hertfordshire, Yorkshire, Warwickshire and Lancashire. There’s also a Scotland development team and from the United States, there is New York and Philadelphia.”

The festivities kick off tonight with the annual parade which starts from the UCC grounds in the Mardyke at 7.30pm.

“The parade is a major event,” says Sheehan. “There’s a new route this year starting from the UCC grounds in the Mardyke and finishing up outside of the library on the Grand Parade. There’ll be a lot of colour and banners on show.”

Amongst the coordinators who will be presiding over the group games today and tomorrow are Cork senior footballer Paudie Kissane, and hurling duo Brian Murphy and Martin Coleman. The trio, who are employed as Games Development Administrators in Cork, increase the profile of the event, in Sheehan’s view.

“It adds profile to it. Some of them will be functioning at a reduced timetable given the club and inter-county commitments they have over the weekend.

“But as a means of promoting the competition, it’s great as they’re very high-profile guys.”

Boys Division 1: Claremorris (Mayo), Ballymun Kickhams (Dublin), Ballydonoghue (Kerry), Craughwell (Galway), Sarsfields (Kildare), Glenmaghera (Derry), Galbally (Tyrone) and Naomh Colmcille (Meath).

Girls Division 1: Kilmacud Crokes (Dublin), Claregalway (Galway), Westport (Mayo), The Banner (Clare), Sarsfields (Kildare), Castleisland (Kerry), Portlaoise (Laois) and Monaleen (Limerick).

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