Leah Victoria Park, Tullamore Town FC played host to the Offaly County Final of the SPAR FAI Primary School 5s Programme on March 8 and 9.
By Damian Moran
256 students from 13 schools participated with just 6 schools progressing to the regional finals.
The ‘A’ Cup, open to boys and/or mixed teams, had four highly competitive schools involved. Scoil Mhuire, Killeen NS, Coolanarney NS and Carrig NS were all in fine form. The grouping saw Coolanarney NS pick up gold while the silver medal was awarded to Carrig NS.
The ‘B’ Cup again proved to be a tense affair with 6 teams involved in this division. Durrow NS proved a little too strong over a talented St. Colman’s NS of Mucklagh taking runners up spot.
The ‘C’ Cup was another hard fought contest between 9 passionate teams. St. Patrick’s NS, Portarlington eventually came out on top by reversing their previous group outing with a victory over St. Francis BNS, Clara.
The Girls ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’ Cup finals were equally competitive with some closely contested games in the groups. The Girls ‘A’ Cup, catering for small schools saw Coolanarney NS complete a double as they were victorious with Carrig NS runners up. In the Girls ‘B’ Cup Final for medium sized schools it was St. Colman’s NS, Mucklagh winning out over Durrow NS that sealed qualification to the next stage. The Girls ‘C’ Cup for large schools saw local school St. Philomena’s NS of Tullamore enter four teams in this grouping. Their ‘D’ team took the honours in this derby.
The girls division has continued to grow over the past number of years with 80 students taking part in the Offaly County Finals.
The winners will now progress to the Mid Leinster Finals on April 13 in Portlaoise AFC.
The SPAR FAI Primary School 5s competition has been in existence since the mid 1990’s and saw nearly 20,000 participants from 1,069 schools involved last season. The competition is run across six divisions, ensuring that schools of all sizes are catered for. Depending on their size a school can enter several teams into the competition. 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 second year with title sponsors SPAR and the competition is expanding year on year. The support shown by SPAR ensured this grassroots initiative really supports Offaly local talent. The event encourages children to become involved in soccer at an early age and emphasizes the fun aspect of the sport. FAI Schools are delighted to be hosting the Finals on Wednesday, May 11 in Aviva Stadium, something which the children will relish I’m sure.”
Anne Gallagher, SPAR Marketing Manager said, “This is a great opportunity for SPAR to support the local community in Offaly and encourage children to be more active and participate in sport in a fun and competitive way. 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.
No doubt the teachers will be putting in plenty of match practice before the next stage of qualifying as they keep an eye on the ultimate prize... best of luck to all involved.
Follow the action on social media via #SPAR5s or at www.faischools.ie and www.spar.ie.