Féile dream is almost reality
Action begins Friday week
As almost 20,000 administrators, mentors, parents and players get ready to descend on the south-east for the 2015 Féile Peil na nOg tournament, the organisers have just got a chance to sit back and take stock after what has been a hectic 15 months.
Back in the spring of 2014 Wexford Coiste na nOg Chairperson Bobby Goff and Vice-Chairperson Marguerite Furlong were at a meeting in Croke Park about the 2014 Féile.
As the meeting ended people wondered where it would take place this summer and eyes slowly turned in one direction.
'Some of the powers that be looked at us and said "would Wexford take it'' remembers current Vice-Chairperson of the local organising committee, Marguerite Furlong.
That meeting set the wheels in motion and before long Wexford G.A.A. Chairman Diarmuid Devereux was contacted by Leinster Council and Wexford accepted the 2015 staging of Ireland's largest sporting gathering.
Féile has grown hugely since the early days, meaning it's very difficult for one county to host the whole football competition. Wicklow and Carlow were invited in to help with the overflow but eventually the neighbouring counties decided they wanted to go all-in, realising that neither was even close to big enough to host on their own in future years.
The national committee accepted the proposal, meaning that geographically it will be a bigger event than ever before.
It's also within the remit of the committee to look after the visiting teams - with San Fransisco travelling the furthest - to help them with every aspect of the preparations from the big logistical questions to the smaller queries.
The local organising committee, which is vice-chaired by Furlong, is led by a Laois man, Peter O'Neill. Gerry Moran of Crossabeg-Ballymurn is Secretary while Liz Quinn and Leona Tector are looking after the ladies' football interests and bring the number of Wexford representatives to four.
They were tasked with the organisation of the event, from signing up host teams, to arranging pitches, to assigning referees and to the match day logistics.
All of those details have been tied down in a string of meetings that started before Christmas last year.
One of the big decisions was the selection of a 'hub'. A base for the competition that would house the dignitaries and act as the epicentre for the games with all results, tables and official knockout fixtures being drawn up. That will all take place out of the Millrace Hotel in Bunclody.
The games themselves start on Friday week, June 26, and all ten divisions will be wrapped up by Sunday evening.
Furlong stresses how vital the volunteers are and is keen to pre-thank everyone in advance of what will hopefully be the precursor for the hurling edition of the Féile in 2017.
'We'd like to thank everyone that's getting involved, whether they are hosting just the one match or four matches or eight matches, everyone's co-operation is very much appreciated.
'If we do this really, really well we will definitely get the hurling in 2017,' said the Coiste Vice-Chairperson.
Of course it's not just the pitches and games that the families of the 2015 Feile Peil na nOg will encounter.
It's everything Wexford has to offer as a venue and as a county. While spare time will be short with so many games going on around the county Furlong hopes that the hosts can leave a lasting impression.
'We want them to go home saying 'we would go back to Wexford, we'll go back the August Bank Holiday weekend, or we'll go back next summer'' explains Furlong.
'Hopefully when they are planning something in the future they will very much put Wexford as a venue they want to go back to.'
The full Féile weekend fixtures list will be in next week's edition.