Wexford talent at finals in Athlone IT
County well represented at Games
Part one of the national Community Games took place over the weekend of August 12 to August 14 as thousands of children along with their families, friends and volunteers descended on Athlone I.T. as the 2016 events got under way.
In total over 7,000 talented children have got through to the finals from the four corners of Ireland and will be participating in more than 50 wide-ranging activities, from table-tennis to debating, indoor soccer to duathlon, athletics to rugby, to mention but a few.
Community participation and volunteerism are an essential part of Community Games and these two weekends are the culmination of months of preparation from 570 affiliated Areas.
During the two-day festival, children from all corners of Wexford participated in swimming, debating, table quiz, handwriting, art, cross-country relay events, group and solo music and singing, and group dance Irish contemporary categories.
From going around to the various events, it was evident that the standards continue to rise each year, thus making it harder and more competitive. Winning that elusive medal is hard work but well worth it.
In the art competition, from looking at some of the winners in the various categories, our children here in Wexford can hold their own, and to come through a group of 28 exhibits is a lot of luck and basically down to the opinions of a few judges. So children, don't be disappointed, come back again next year and try your luck.
Alas for 2016, no medals were won in Athlone. The handwriting competition, although only on the scene for a few years, has developed into quite a popular competition with again very high standards.
This year two young boys from Wexford took the fourth place medallions and, having checked their piece of prose, I can tell you that the three winners ahead of them must have been exceptional as the boys' writing was tidy and neat and good. Well done to Philip Doyle from Taghmon (Under-10) and Jack O'Leary from the Castlebridge-Crossabeg Area (Under-12) who went home happy.
Wexford had just one team in action in the mixed distance relay events, a girls' Under-12 crew of Cliona Kearney (Castlebridge-Crossabeg), Brídín Doyle (Craanford), Muireann Hynes (Rathangan), Niamh English and Isobel English (Adamstown) in action. In a tough course, the girls gave it their all but missed out on progression to the semi-finals.
The Under-14 table quiz entrants from the Piercestown-Murrintown Area competed well and were amassing on average eight points in most rounds. The competition was won by Offaly, with Sligo in second place, Mayo in third place and Galway in fourth. Well done team.
In the swimming competitions, medals are so hard to come by, but Molly Hennessy-Murphy from the Rathgarogue-Cushinstown Area earned herself the gold in the Under-8 freestyle event, and Abi Cullen from the Bree-Davidstown Area took home a bronze medal in the Under-12 freestyle final. Well done girls.
In the stage events, the group dance Irish contemporary competitions (Under-12 and Under-16) were mind-blowing and from the time the events got under way, one group was more entertaining than the previous one and it was non-stop entertainment. It was the very best of entertainment and these young people were a delight to watch.
In the Under-12 section, a team of Niamh Fenlon, Makayla Flynn, Mia Murphy, Anita O'Leary-Doyle and Chloe O'Neill from Bree-Davidstown danced their socks off and it paid off as they took home the bronze medals. Well done girls, keep up the good work and aim to head back to Athlone again next year.
In the Under-16 category, a team of Sarah Bolger, Aine Byrne, Sarah Doyle, Erin Fortune, Amy Long and Méabh Rochford from the Bree-Davidstown Area were foot and movement perfect and such was the high standards in this category that two groups were awarded the fourth place medallions (including Bree-Davidstown), and again two groups were awarded silver medals. It was a good result all round in this category.
The group singing and music events too attracted large numbers to the theatre to hear the youngsters sing and play their hearts out.
These children were so confident on stage and took on some very tough songs and pieces of music. There is such talent in the country. Alas, there was no luck for our Wexford contingent, and no luck either in the solo music or solo singing.
In the debating competition, it was a straight national final between Bree-Davidstown and Lakeside, Co. Wicklow. This competition only came in to the calendar of events a few years ago, and already interest seems to be waning.
What a pity, as the youngsters gain such confidence and strength of character from getting up in front of people and giving their opinions, which is quite a daunting task. This year the topic down for discussion was 'should laptops replace books in schools'.
Bree-Davidstown opposed the motion and Sarah Byrne very confidently set out her team's opinions and views, while her team-mates, Rachel Long and Eoin Murphy, supported her and strengthened their case.
In reply the team from Lakeside, although having some valid points, showed some nerves, but recovered well to finish their speeches. The gold medals were awarded to Bree-Davidstown and silver to Wicklow. Alas, the county did not have any teams competing, but hopefully we can work on that in the 2017 season.
Part two of the national festival took place last weekend and next week there will be a full report on same. Thanks to all the children who posed for photographs in Athlone and hopefully we can include more in the newspapers and on the Community Games Facebook page.
All tracksuits and singlets must be washed and returned to the county at Ferrycarrig Hotel on Friday, August 26.