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New perspectives on Russia

 

Russia was a marvelous experience for all


The Tralee international Children's Games teams returned to Tralee on Monday last after a wonderful experience of Moscow and Ufa and the 53rd International Children's Games. By general consensus the Games were exceptionally well organized in Ufa, where the facilities were superb for all events and included a newly built Swimming and Athletic Complex especially for the Games. The Tralee athletes performed to the high standards of which they are capable, and while no medals were brought home from Russia, the experience of this level of competition will stand to the athletes going forward.
Tralee departed on July 6th by bus to Dublin airport for a late night flight to Moscow, arriving at Shermetevo airport at 5:00 am local time, where they spent about an hour passing through immigration control. It was an experience and thankfully all went well! There were many highlights in the opening two days in Moscow and certainly many have come away with a new understanding and appreciation of Russia and its people, such was the cleanliness of Moscow and Ufa, the disarming friendliness of the people and efforts made by volunteers, staff and locals to make us feel welcome and help us in every way possible.
Leaving the airport, the team arrived at and walked through Red Square with its well known iconic buildings such as the Kremlin, St Basil's Cathedral, Lenin's Mausoleum and so many more architecturally stunning buildings. To be there was simply surreal; so many images of the Kremlin and nearby symbols of Russia, young and old, flashed through the mind's eyes as we took in the real. Nina, our guide, was exceptional, relating many of the significant events in the country's history and in particular Red Square and its buildings so familiar down the years. Nina then led us on a tour of the exquisite and beautifully adorned Metro stations of Moscow, all of which tell the story of the Russian people, their way of life and the tragedies of the wars of their history. The underground system was used as bomb shelters during WW2, as hospitals, treatment rooms and, incredibly, we learned that over 200 babies were born in the Metro underground during the war! The team returned to Red Square on Monday for further exploration and shopping, walked over the hanging bridge with its wonderful views of the city and finished the day in Gorki Park, where a Volleyball tournament was held with parents and coaches and athletes all joining in the light hearted and enjoyable fun.
On Tuesday at 11am the team was back on its way to the airport for the two hour flight to Ufa, two hours ahead of Moscow and 4 hours ahead of local Tralee time. On arrival in Ufa the team was greeted by the Ufa officials and volunteers and taken to their hotel accommodation, as were the supporters. Training sessions were held on Wednesday for all teams and on that night all attended the Opening Ceremony for a display of Bashkir culture in music, song and dance in traditional costumes that would be hard to surpass anywhere, before a crowd of over 8,000 at the Ufa Arena, home to the Salavat Ice Hockey team.. It is always a source of pride to see a team from Tralee representing Ireland enter the Arena at this International Sporting and Cultural event. The Games were officially opened by President ICG, Torsten Rasch, after a letter from President Putin congratulating all athletes and organizers for hosting the event in Ufa, was read to the participants and attendants.

The Sport
Athletics:


On Thursday Tralee ICG athletes went into action. On the track Melissa Ahern produced a top class performance in her heat to finish second , and qualified as one of the fastest losers for the semi finals on the following day, where she ran brilliantly again to finish 6th. She is a young athlete who will develop to very high levels should her focus remain on performances on the track. Alison Butler in the 800m ran an excellent first 400 but as the pace heated up coming down the back straight, tired visibly and failed to advance to the semis. Lisa Cassidy later in the day in the 400m also failed to advance but again ran up to near personal best times, as did Alison. Bobby Byrne in the 100m was travelling like a train when suddenly and without warning literally collapsed on the track with a serious muscle/tendon/ bone tear, which required medical attention and a visit to the hospital A and E department. It will take a bit of time to heal but it will heal in that time. The doctors were very thorough and checked on Bobby again the following day. Our best wishes go to Bobby for a full recovery. In the shot put, Aine O Shea performed extremely well in spite of a delayed arrival at the track due to traffic congestion, which robbed her of a proper warm up. Overall these young athletes turned in very satisfactory performances, and the whole experience will stand to them positively in the years ahead when they stand on the starting line for any competition.


Soccer:

The soccer team faced Vevey of Switzerland in their opening game on a sweltering hot day at Ufa FC football stadium, where this year Glasgow Rangers defeated Ufa in European competition. Vevey were stronger from the start and came close a few times before their first goal after 10 mins. They went 2 up midway through the second half after a defensive mix up, but to their credit Tralee battled back with a goal from Kalvin O Sullivan, with about 7 minutes to go. The killer goal-the best goal of the game- came with two minutes remaining and Tralee went down 3-1. Odhran Ferris and Cormac Dillon were superb all through, and but for the heroics of Richard Healy in goal the margin would have been greater.
Game two was against Samos of Greece-the home of Pythagoras-he of the famous theorem-who had also lost their opening game. In an exciting game, it was the Greeks who came out on top, boosted by an early goal against the run of play. Undaunted, the boys in green battled back, and began to control possession for long periods, but with no reward. Samos scored again early on the resumption, before Odhran Ferris unleashed a pile driver to make it 2-1. Pressing hard for the equalizer, Tralee just couldn't find the net despite hitting the post 4 times. Samos scored on a breakaway and almost immediately Cormac Dillon finished neatly to the net after a through pass from Alex Hoare. The final score remained 3-2 despite the best efforts of Ray Mc Grath, Kalvin and Hennigan. The final game was against Sentjil of Slovenia and again Tralee went down 3-1, with the Tralee goal coming from Yago Cornide, just before half time.
Vevey and Sentjil finished third and fourth overall, so it was a tough group for this young teams, playing against much stronger teams physically. Over the three games Tralee had outstanding performances from Alex Hoare, Richard Healy, Odhran Ferris and Cormac Dillon. Cormac, Richard and Alex Hennigan had the opportunity to play in the Football for Friendship game against a Gazprom selection and acquitted themselves very well in the victory over the home side. It was an occasion to remember for all involved under the Football for Friendship programme, sponsored and organized by Gazprom, the Ufa oil and gas company


Judo:


The Judo team of 4-three boys and one girl- all had their fights on Thursday and first onto the mat-always a nervous occasion- was Jack Costello who faced a very tough Russian fighter. Jack defended well and with great determination but eventually was thrown for Ippon and lost his first bout. Next up was Kristin Lyne, also drawn against a Russian and he was defeated with a hold down after a hard two minute bout. Stephen Palmer was drawn against an Israeli opponent and suffered the same fate as Jack Costello, being thrown for Ippon. Last but not least to enter the fray was Donna Rogers, again against a Russian. Despite her best efforts she also was thrown for Ippon. Jack, Donna and Stephen got back into the second round but again to no avail. While there was obvious disappointment with the results, nevertheless the team is very young and giving a year to their opponents here. The experience will help prepare them for better days in the future.
The teams involved this year will have gained much, according to Mike Culloty, Chairman, Tralee ICG. ''It was a big decision to go to Ufa with this young team and for me they played to their full potential, gave of their very best, which is all that is expected of them. They will have learned much for their performances against more seasoned opponents, from the excellent facilities and event organization in which they performed and from the whole international flavor experienced for the first time. They were all tremendously well behaved, kind and courteous to all and totally committed to giving of their best in a true sportsmanlike fashion. In my view they were a credit to their families and communities throughout the competition and represented us all with pride and integrity. Apart from their own competitions and performances all of the delegation will remember the people we met at the Games, the friendliness and helpfulness of the people of Moscow and Ufa, and the newly formed opinions and understandings of Russian customs, cultures and history''.
Tralee ICG wish to express their appreciation to all coaches-Dearbhail Foley, Robin O Day, John Byrne, and Danny Roche, to the Head of Delegation Paula Henry, to all the supporters who travelled to Russia to support the children, and to everyone who helped make participation possible for these young athletes at this year's International Children's Games.
Mar a deirtear I gconai, mol an oige agus tiocfaidh siad!

Coventry Games 2005

International Children’s Games deemed to be a huge success for Tralee

Twenty Tralee students, representing the town of Tralee at the 2005 International Childrens Games in Coventry, had a never to be forgotten experience on the international stage this past week. Competing against athletes from countries all over the world the Irish boys and girls gave some outstanding individual and team performances in Track and Field and in Soccer.

The team arrived in Coventry on Wednesday, July 6th to be met by members of the ICG committee, the Lord Mayor of Coventry, Mr John Mutton, and members of the local media, who conducted interviews and compiled reports on members of the team. The photograph of the team descending down the steps from the aeroplane, which appeared on the front page of the Coventry Observer on Thursday, will always be a cherished possession of the team. From there they were bussed to their rooms at the University of Warwick, the central location for the all events and in fact the “games village”. An exciting feature of this first day was the arrival and greeting of teams from all over the world, which continued throughout the day. Coupled with the news of London’s selection for the 2012 Olympic Games, the sense of excitement and anticipation was fever pitch at the evening meal, which was later followed by a “welcome to the games” disco and party. These games are based on the concept of increasing peace, understanding and friendship among the youth of the world and this was clearly to be seen throughout the week.

Day two (July 7th) was a training day for all athletes and teams, with coaches familiarising themselves with the games schedules, different locations, and transport provision. Thursday evening saw the 1500 athletes, representing all five continents, brought to the Coventry rugby ground for the Games Opening Ceremony. This will forever remain in the memory of every athlete. All teams entered the Arena one at a time to extraordinary fanfare, were the treated to an hour of music, dance and exhibition, before the games were officially opened by the Games President, Mr Torsten Rasch of Germany. This was followed by a pageant depicting the history of Coventry, featuring spectacular dance routines, drama, incredible backdrops and costumes and altogether 1000 Coventry children were involved. A spectacular finale, featuring a powerful fireworks display, was further enhanced with the spontaneous mingling of athletes and performers during the final pieces of music and dance. The childlike, youthful exhilaration of the moment, the celebration and ceremonial styles of different teams and cultures, and the sense of boundless joy and enjoyment is forever imprinted on the minds of participating children.

Competitions began on Friday –July 8th- day three. Track and field, swimming, tennis, table tennis and soccer got underway in beautiful sunshine with some degree of trepidation and expectation, despite the tragic news of the London bombings that morning. On the soccer front the Tralee team lost all three group games: to Bangkok, Thailand 3-0, to Kecskemet of Hungary 2-0 and to Cleaveland, Ohio 3-0. They had played well in all their games but were on average one year younger than most of their opponents and extra atrength and physique told against them. Gary Nolan, Martin Kerins, and Chris Carmody were outstanding in all games, while in goals Seamus Bastible brought off many world class saves. Up front Alan o Shea was unlucky not to get on the score sheet, while Ian Carey offered much needed support against all opponents.

The team would now advance to the Plate competition, which would be played on Saturday.

First into action on the track were Megan Dunne and Patricia Tierney in the 100m. Both girls finished 4th in their heats, and while performing at their own personal best times they nevertheless failed to advance to round two. In the boys event Padraig Rice ran an excellent race but was well off the pace of the top athletes, a recurring theme for Tralee at the games regrettably. In truth the standard at the games was extremely high, with many fifteen year olds already setting their sights on London 2012. In this respect this was a real eye opener for all involved in athletics and the development of our young athletes.
Caoimhe Casey and Aisling Ni Nuallain found themselves in the same heat of the 800m for girls. Aisling ran a new personal best time to edge home in fourth ahead of Caoimhe, but both would fail to qualify for round two, which were based on finishing times. Michael Brennan and Diarmuid Herlihy were likewise in the same heat of the 1500m, with Michael heading Diarmuid home in fourth place in a great personal tussle. Michael’s twin sister Lisa came tantalisingly close to making the final twelve in the High Jump. She made it to the final five in her group of ten, jumping at 1.5m, a personal best for Lisa, and finishing in 13th place overall, an excellent performance on the day.

After a good night’s sleep - the result of exhaustion –it was back to action on Saturday, July 9th.. First in action was the soccer team against Ravne na Koroskem of Slovenia. A great game ended at one apiece with Chris Carmody registering Tralee’s first international goal. Brendan o Neill and Robert Shanahan were prominent and impressive for the local side. Game two saw Tralee in action against Lahore of Pakistan. Goals from Alan o Shea, Carmody and Shanahan ensured a 3 – 1 win and Tralee’s first victory at the games. Confidence was high as they faced New Delhi in their final game. A brace from O Shea and one each from Gary Nolan, Carmody and Ian Carey brought a 5-0 win and top of the table position. The remaining group fixtures saw Ravne na Koroskem join the Irish lads at the top on points and goal difference. The final was played on Sunday and unfortunately Tralee could not match their stronger opponents on this occasion and went down 4 –0. Despite the disappointment of losing the final the players were delighted with seven competitive fixtures which produced some great matches and incidents. Team coaches Tom Enright and Enda Culloty were justifiably proud of the performances of their charge

Founder of the ICG Professor Metod Klemenc, with Mike, Siobhán and Carmel at Coventry Cathedral.

Back on the athletic track Jamie Lowham was in action in the Shot Putt. He was throwing at one Kg higher than his normal level. Due to this he was always struggling against older and more mature athletes. He failed to qualify for round two but can be proud of his performance, which certainly gives hope for the future. Rebecca Spellman and Ciara Hill gave of their best in the Long Jump, performing to their own personal bests, and Padraig Rice competed with distinction in the boy’s High Jump. The girl’s relay team of Tierney, Brennan, Dunne and Spellman ran well in the 4 x 100m, finishing fifth in their heat. Elaine Costelloe and Liam Culloty, coaches to the athletic team, can be proud of the overall performance and know that all will have gained much from the experience of the Games.

The team had the opportunity to visit Coventry city centre on Saturday evening to view some of the sights, most notably the city cathedrals which leave a lasting spiritual impression, and to do some shopping for home!!! On Sunday the closing ceremony took place in Memorial Park as part of the Lady Godiva Festival, the city’s largest summer festival. In brilliant sunshine and fantastic atmosphere the Games came to a fitting conclusion, with the presentation of medals to the winners in true Olympic fashion. Returning to the University of Warwick later that evening the teams were treated to a variety of Asian and European dishes for their evening meal. This was followed by a farewell disco, which was thoroughly enjoyed by all.


Lord Mayor of Coventry, Mr John Mutton, who invited Tralee to participate in 2005

The Tralee team were accompanied to the Games by parents Mrs Siobhan O Nuallain and Mrs Carmel Quilter o Neill and returned to Shannon on Monday on a 7.00am flight out of Coventry Airport. They will have seen firsthand some future Olympians and will have a much greater understanding of the dedication required for this level of competition. When the dust finally settles, however, it is the friendships made with fellow children from all over the globe and the “craic” they all shared during the week that will live longest in the memory -- that and the desire to participate at the next International Children’s Games.

Coventry Teams:

Athletics: Lisa Brennan, Michael Brennan, Aisling O Nuallain, Megan Dunne, Patricia Tierney, Ciara Hill, Jamie lowham, Diarmuid Herlihy, Caoimhe Casey, Rebecca Spellman, Padraig Rice

Soccer: Gary Nolan, Martin Kerins, Chris Carmody, Seamus Bastible, Brendan o Neill, Robert Shanahan, Alan o Shea, Ian Carey.

Gallery

Bankok Games 2006

Experience of a lifetime at Bangkok Games for Tralee Children

The travelling party of 44 children, coaches and parents- that departed Tralee on Monday night August 22nd at 3.30 am to attend the International Children’s Games in Bangkok could never have envisaged the momentous sporting and cultural occasion it would turn out to be, nor indeed appreciate in advance what a thrilling and fantastic experience it would prove for all participants.

Tralee was represented in three disciplines at the Games: Athletics, Swimming and Basketball. From the outset it was obvious that the heat and the humidity would seriously affect performance but despite this the Tralee teams acquitted themselves with pride, determination and distinction.

Arriving in Bangkok airport on Wednesday –Aug 24th- morning at 6.00 am local time, the team received a cead mile fáilte from their Thai hosts that would rival the best of our own Failte traditions, each child receiving, among many things, an orchid corsage, the symbolic flower of Thailand. From there the delegation were bussed to their hotel rooms at the Imperial Queens Park and promptly collapsed on their beds for a couple of hours of much wanted sleep. The latter part of the day was spent familiarising the delegation with competition venues, arrangements for travel and games schedules.

Thursday morning –Aug 25th-began early with coaches meetings outlining schedules, making some minor changes, agreeing procedures and presenting each coach with a souvenier Gold medal of the Games. Training was arranged for each team and the Tralee athletes had their first training sessions in Thailand at 3.00pm, on the track, in the pool and in the superb air conditioned basketball arena. Following dinner at the stadium the children were taken to an outdoor market in Bangkok later that evening, an event thoroughly enjoyed by all.

Friday Aug 25th:

Serious competition was due to begin for the basketball team at 8:00am against Kamasi from Ghana. The team was disappointed to learn, shortly after their arrival in the hall, that the Ghanaian flight had been delayed and the game was awarded to Tralee on a 20-0 scoreline.
Later that Friday evening the opening ceremony provided all athletes and delegates with an unforgettable experience of colour, pageantry, music song, dance and firework displays as well as the formal opening of the Games, and the lighting of the flame, by the Royal Princess of Thailand, the Governor of Bangkok and Mr Thorsten Rasch, President of the ICG. The two hour spectacle was electric throughout, with the marching of the teams into the stadium a particular highlight and source of pride for all parents. Afterwards, as all participating teams were enjoying dinner at the stadium, the buzz and the sense of anticipation at the next three days of competition was palpable in the dining area.

Saturday Aug 26th:

The opening day of competition saw Tralee athletes Cian Foley and Mike Fitzgerald burst from the blocks in the 60m sprint to qualify for the final, a fantastic achievement. They were followed on the track by Dearbhail Foley in the 200m who ran magnificently to finish third in her heat, but failed to make the final by just point 13 of a second. Ailbhe Courtney jumped an impressive 4m 50 on her first jump but could not improve on this mark in subsequent jumps. In the 800m event Aisling Ni Nuallain and Sabina Sayers were drawn in separate heats and while both ran superb races it was Aisling who turned in a personal best time of 2mns 33secs to finish fourth and qualify for the final. The experience gained at the Coventry Games last year certainly stood to her, timing her late run to perfection.

In the pool four of the five swimmers were in action- James Hanafin, (200 IM) improved his PB by 5 secs, Claire o Connell, (100m Back), finished 12th of 36 swimmers, Michelle Smith (100m Back) swam 2secs below her PB and Sinead Moran (50m Free) was also inside her PB – and all were delighted with their performances. Unfortunately these times fell short of finals qualification.

In the basketball arena the Tralee lads received a ruthless mauling from eventual Gold medallists, Sonora of Mexico, losing to a much stronger and more technically efficient team on a score of 80 – 30. Despite the heavy defeat Tralee performed with great heart throughout and were simply outclassed by an exceptional team. Diarmuid Herlihy, Joseph o Callaghan, Declan Doody and Eoin Quigley gave sterling performances throughout. Later that day they played Kecskemet of Hungary- a city Tralee had played against in soccer last year in Coventry – and were defeated 54- 34 despite a much improved display. Diarmuid Herlihy and Jamie Lowham top scored for Tralee on 10 pts and received valuable support on the board from Mark o Connor, David Mannix and Chris Carmody.

Sunday Aug 27th:

Day two of competition saw Dearbhail Foley and Ailbhe Courtney in action in the 100m heats. Both finished 3rd in times of 13.72 and 13.73 respectively, times which fell short of final qualification. Lisa Brennan performed to her best in the 200m and later in the High Jump was unlucky to clip the bar in her final jump. Jamie Byrne, Mike Fitzgerald and Cian Foley ran to their PB times in the 100m and 200m. Michael Brennan and James Walshe performed heroically in the 1500m, suffering visibly during the course of the race from the intense heat, finishing down the field, but creditably crossing the finish line, an achievement in itself for these lads in these conditions.
In the finals of the 60m and the 800m Cian Foley and Aisling Ni Nuallain fought to the end but had to be satisfied with the minor placings. Both however can take consolation from the fact that they were the first ever Tralee finalists in the history of the International Children’s Games.

In the pool the performance of the week came from Claire o Connell in the 200m IM where, amid emotional scenes, she won her heat in dramatic and determined fashion in 2.40 secs, a time which placed her 10th 0f 26 swimmers and just outside a final place. She was followed by Philip Stone in the 100m Breaststroke and the 50 Freestyle, who swam strongly throughout, and James Hanafin (100m Backstroke) who dipped under his PB by one second. Sinead Moran completed Tralee’s swim competition with a strong swim in the 100m freestyle and overall these swimmers performed with pride and distinction as the first representatives of their town, and will hopefully encourage others to follow in their slipstream in the years ahead.

The basketball team were pitted against Ulanbaatar of Mongolia, who would later win the Bronze medals, in their final group game and played their best basketball of the Games, winning the second quarter, before going down 79 – 38. Ian Carey, Herlihy, Quigley, Lowham and Mannix were the leading lights for Tralee. Overall the standard of the basketball teams at the Games was exceptional and with the Gold and Bronze winners in their group Tralee stood little chance of emerging. The experience gained however will stand these boys in good stead for the future and they will certainly know the levels of improvement required
for their future involvement at this level.

On that night the Tralee team attended the grand traditional Thai cultural performance at Siam Niramitr, a Siamsa like performance of Thai music, dance and art. It was exceptional and enjoyed by everyone.

Monday Aug 28th:

Day three was remarkable for the performances of the 4x100m relay team who qualified for the final of the relay with a fantastic performance in the heats, knocking 3 secs of their best time. Cian Foley, Jamie Byrne, Mike Fitzgerald and Michael Brennan would further improve this time by a second in the final to finish in 6th position and bring the curtain down on a very positive performance in Track and Field for the Tralee team.

The Tralee delegation was taken on a tour of the Royal Palaces and the Emerald Buddha today prior to the spectacular Closing Ceremony at 5.00pm. The flag for the Games was handed over to the Rejykavik Committee and the Flame of the Games was extinguished in ceremonial fashion, amid music song and dance involving children of all ages in traditional Thai costume and dress. The incredible presentation was further enhanced thereafter by impromptu dancing on the field by athletes of all participating towns and cities, and the swapping of gear and badges among the children. It was truly a scene of unbridled joy, of sharing, of fun and enjoyment, and of acceptance and friendship among these athletes, which augurs well for understanding and co operation in the world in the future.

Tuesday was spent shopping in a major department store where many bargains were snapped up with eagerness, and before Tralee departed for the airport they were taken on an open bus tour of the city of Bangkok by night, a highlight of the week for many.

The team arrived safely at Cork airport on Wednesday at 11.30am and returned to Tralee at 3.00pm, tired, but appreciative of the support of the people of Tralee for their initial support for the team’s participation at the Games and fully aware that they had been part of an exceptional sporting and cultural experience, which would be forever etched in the memory. Roll on Rejykavik 2007 and Tralee’s continued participation in the world’s largest multi-sport youth event and a truly Olympian experience for all involved. Perhaps one day we will see these games hosted in Kerry!!

Bangkok Teams

Athletics: Cian Foley and Mike Fitzgerald, Cian Foley, James Walsh, Michael Brennan, Dearbhail Foley, Ailbhe Courtney, Aisling Ni Nuallain, Sabina Sayers, Lisa Brennan

Swimming: James Hanafin, Claire o Connell, Michelle Smith, Philip Stone, Sinead Moran

Basketball: Diarmuid Herlihy, Joseph o Callaghan, Declan Doody, Eoin Quigley, Jamie Lowham, Mark O Connor, David Mannix and Chris Carmody.

Gallery

Reykjavik Games 2007

Silver Medals for Tralee at Reykjavik Games

The Tralee International Children’s Games team reached new heights in Reykjavik this week, with some sizzling performances on the track, the soccer pitches and the golf courses. Pride of place must go to the soccer team who produced incredible and resilient performances to win silver in the Medal competition – the first time for Tralee. Equally so the athletics squad deserve great praise, with three athletes reaching finals at 100m, 800m and 1500m, while the girls relay team were denied a bronze medal by a mere 12 hundredths of a second. The golfers displayed great skill and know how on a difficult course against competitors with much lower handicaps

Soccer silver:

The boys 7 a side soccer team, managed by John Byrne and Mike Culloty and selected from the Park and the Kingdom boys, set the Games alight throughout the week with skilful, energetic and determined performances, which saw them establish an unbeaten run of five matches to reach Tralee’s first ever team final at the International Children’s Games.

1. Tralee 4 - Sparta of Greece 0

The opening match was a nervy affair for both sides, before Tralee finally made the breakthrough three minutes from half time, when Diarmuid Lee finished with power after latching on to a Bill Mullins through ball. Three minutes into the second half Sean o Reilly made it two, and with Ciaran Higgins – goalkeeper of the competition –almost unbeatable and Aaron O Connor commanding at centre half, Tralee were in control. Kieran O Mahony came off the bench to net two goals, one of them a real cracker, to get the team off to a flying start in the group.

2. Tralee 4 - Ravne na Koroskem of Slovenia 0

Game two brought a confident start from Tralee with Bill Mullins constantly creating openings for his team-mates at centre forward. Sean o Reilly was the main beneficiary in the first half, striking twice from knockdowns by Mullins. Diarmuid Lee, Anthony Mc Donnell and Laurence Bastible drove the side forward throughout and Lee netted again before Mullins got the goal his efforts so richly deserved, to leave Tralee in a strong position to qualify for the Medal competition

3. Tralee 1 - Innsbruck of Austria 1

This top of the table clash failed to live up to expectations and degenerated into a niggly affair throughout with poor refereeing and even poorer sportsmanship at times. Innsbruck led 1-0 at the break but Tralee showed great spirit to force a draw with five minutes to go through Bill Mullins, who struck low to the net after a smashing through ball from Shane O Callaghan, who showed great first touch to control and deliver the ball.

Quarter Final: Tralee 2 - Raanana of Israel 1

Only the brilliance of Ciaran Higgins, who saved three certain goal-bound shots, and the luck of the Irish kept Tralee in the game in the first half. Totally against the run of play Sean O Reilly picked up a ball in midfield and, after a neat one-two with Mullins, struck high into the roof of the net. Israel levelled midway through the second half, and with extra time a strong probability, Bill Mullins hit the winner, racing onto a long clearance from Higgins, going around his marker and placing it under the keeper’s body, as cool as you like in a situation that was anything but!. Heartbreak for Israel, joy for Ireland.


Semi – Final: Tralee 2 - Brescia of Italy 0

The Italian team asserted themselves from the start and in the space of seven minutes hit the crossbar, the post and Ciaran Higgins twice!. Heroic defending from O Connor, Bastible, Mc Donnell and Lee prevented that opening goal and as in the Qt Final, Tralee opened through Sean O Reilly. The lead was held until the 7th minute of the second half when Brescia’s class produced a wonderful goal. Mullins might have restored the lead on the restart after a mazy run, but the keeper made a great save. Two minutes from time Mc Donnell sent Kieran O Mahony away on the left wing. Carrying the ball forward, he dummied infield and then sent over the sweetest of left footed crosses, to find the head of Mullins, who dispatched to the net with aplomb. The team and supporters went wild with delight and the pent up emotion was fully released at the final whistle. Incredibly Tralee were going for Gold!.

ICG Final: Tralee 0 - Innsbruck 2

This time the game was played in the true spirit of the Children’s Games and Innsbruck deservedly emerged as 2-0 winners. The very demanding schedule of matches and the energy expended therein seemed to rob the team of the energy levels required for their high intensity game. The Austrians fully exploited the gaps in midfield and defence to create the openings and only for some goal-line clearances and saves from Higgins, the scoreline may well have been more comfortable for Innsbruck. Though defeat was their lot and the heartbreak palpable, the true merit of their achievement only sank in later, as they received their silver medals from a Mr Torsten Rasch, President if the ICG Executive Committee. Everyone felt justifiably proud of this incredible and historic achievemen

Athletics:

The athletes were in action on Friday in the 100 m heats and Dearbhail Foley comfortably qualified for the semi- final, while Ailbhe Courtney finished fifth and Molly Mc Gilton – Irish ambassador of the week –finished third and only just failed to make it, as a fastest loser. Jamie Byrne finished second, and Danny O Connor third in their respective heats in good personal times but outside qualifying times for the semis. In the middle distance Katie Rogers ran 6 seconds inside her personal best to qualify for the B final, while Stephen Walsh, displaying a tenacity that belied his physical frame, finished fifth to qualify for the 1500m final, where he ran a new personal best to finish 10th. In the high jump Danny O Connor bowed out at 1m 40, but he showed he has potential at this event, which can develop further in the years ahead.


On Saturday, Dearbhail Foley ran a scintillating semi in a time that was clocked as the fourth fastest of the week. In a close run final she finished 6th, as Tralee’s first ever sprint finalist at the Games. The surprise packet of the final day was the girl’s relay team who qualified for the final with an exciting run from Foley, Courtney, Rogers and a brilliant final leg from Molly Mc Gilton. The final was to bring heartbreak for these girls as they came within 0.12 sec of a first ever Track medal for Tralee, losing out to Darmstadt of Germany for the bronze, after an unbelievable last leg from Mc Gilton, who literally ate up the track as she closed in on her opponent and almost succeeded on the line.

Golf:

Avrill Peevers, Deirdre Lawlor – another great ambassador for Ireland – and Ciaran Crowley were first into action every morning at 7.00 or 8.00am and deserve great credit for such commitment, ad do their coach, Lorraine Peevers, and their caddies, Vera Tierney, Breda Rogers and Martin Walsh. While never in contention for honours they were delighted to see an improvement in their score cards on each successive day, on a course which denied them the opportunity for long driving, and made many demands on their short game, especially on the greens, which at times were anything but green. They were Tralee’s and Ireland’s first representatives at the first ever golf competition at the Children’s Games.reyk10_400

Overall the Reykjavik Games experience was a very positive and hugely successful one for Tralee in their third successive appearance at the games. The three teams, their coaches, and travelling parents were all supportive of each other from start to finish, bonding quickly and developing a great team spirit around successful performances and the thoroughly enjoyable atmosphere at the Games, which hosted 64 cities from all over the world. Tralee is now well and truly established on the ICG map and has won many friends through its performances, behaviour, respectful attitudes and the ever constant Irish sense of humour, friendship and fun.
One major co-incidental highlight of the games was the Inter Toto cup match on Saturday night between Cork City and Valur. Tralee were granted free access to the stadium and the 31 member travelling party joined the Cork City supporters to cheer on City. The singing, banter and craic with these supporters will be remembered for a long time, as will the arrival of about 20 of them to Tralee’s semi final and final on the following day to support the efforts of the players. The Tralee team have received an invite from the club to attend their home Inter Toto match on Saturday week as guests of the club.

As the dust settles on Reykjavik, thoughts turn to San Francisco in 2008 and an expected invitation from the host city. No matter how good that experience will be, nothing can surpass the achievement at Reykjavik, reaching four finals and bringing home silver medals for the first time.

Chairman Michael Culloty was delighted and very proud of what the teams have done. “The standard of performance in all three disciplines was excellent in quality and effort, as seen by the results, and reflects well on both athletes and coaches. Equally the respectful and friendly approach of the whole delegation, superbly managed and orchestrated by Siobhan O Nuallain and Michelle Culloty, won us many friends and much support from other delegations. The children and adults will have many happy memories of the games, and indeed of what we saw in Iceland, particularly the trip to the geothermal waters of the Blue Lagoon, and the Midnight Run. Sincere gratitude to everyone who supported us and helped us to increase the profile of our town on a world stage in such thrilling fashion for all concerned”


Reykjavik Teams:

Soccer: Ciaran Higgins, Anthony Mc Donnell, Aaron O Connor, Laurence Bastible, Sean O Reilly, Bill Mullins, Shane O Callaghan, Kieran O Mahony, Diarmuid Lee.

Athletics; Dearbhail Foley, Molly Mc Gilton, Ailbhe Courtney, Katie Rogers, Jamie Byrne, Danny O Connor, Stephen Walsh

Golf: Avril Peevers, Deirdre Lawlor, Ciaran Crowley

Gallery

San Francisco 2008

Relay silver for Tralee at San Francisco Games

Three Tralee teams returned from the San Francisco International Children’s Games on Saturday last with the experience of a lifetime behind them and with 4 precious silver medals in their grasp. The medals were achieved in the 4 X 400m relay by Sinead O Connor, Molly Mc Gilton, Ciara Walshe and Louise O Connor in a scintillating run which brought great satisfaction and relief after the disappointment of a baton drop in their 4 X 100m heats. This was the highlight of a thoroughly enjoyable and action packed 10 days in San Francisco, which centred on the 42nd International Children’s Games but also included some extra days to enjoy the beautiful sights and attractions of the Bay area.

The Track and Field team performed with distinction, reaching three ladies finals in the 100m, 800m and 4 x 400m relay on the track while Ciara Walsh and Louise O Connor were in contention for the High Jump until late in the competition. The performances of Louise O Connor throughout the Games were quite extra ordinary. Over a very demanding two days she achieved a personal best in her opening 100m heat (12.79) and went better again in her Qt Final (12.71), despite the fact of a very disappointing 4 x100m team run not 20 minutes before. She reached the final of the 100m in the middle of her high jump event where she finished 10th of 24, and finished 7th in her 100m Final. She finished her Games by bringing the relay team home in second 15 minutes later in the 4 x 400m and has to be a very serious prospect for Tralee in future Games, as she is still only 13 years of age!


Michael Godley also reached the boys 100m Quarter Final in a personal best time, as did Molly Mc Gilton, -who also turned in a magnificent second leg in the 400m relay, while Ciara Walsh reached the 800m final and only trailed off on the final straight. In the high jump Ciara jumped clear at 1:55m but was unlucky at the next height of 1:60m catching the bar with her trailing leg on her third attempt. The winning jump was at 1:65m and Ciara was in 8th place overall. Sinead O Connor picked up an injury to her calf muscle in training and withdrew from the 400m to help the relay team, and while it didn’t happen in the 4x100m, her opening leg of the 400m relay was the foundation for the silver medal performance.

The soccer team also provided many moments to cherish in San Francisco. Powered by team captain Ian Mc Carthy at the back, Anthony Forde in midfield and Darragh O Brien up front, the Tralee boys overcame a very strong Sparta side from Greece in their opening game. Trailing one nil at the break, Anthony Forde levelled in the 8th minute of the second half, before Mc Carthy put Tralee in front four minutes later, after a superb cross from Scott Monaghan, one of Tralee’s most consistent performers at the Games. Sparta equalised with 15 minutes gone, but Tralee rallied and pushed forward in search of the winner, which came with two minutes to go from Ian Mc Carthy, after the goalie could only parry a fine effort from O Brien. The next group game was against Ravne of Slovenia, and with greater confidence Tralee displayed all their attacking skills to overwhelm their opponents 8-0. Darragh O Brien scored 5 goals, one of which has gone into legend for its brilliance, and the scoring was completed by rock solid defender David o Sullivan, Scott Monaghan and Eoghain Sheehy, who relinquished his place on the Athletics team to replace the injured Adam Pigott at the Games. The third game pitched Tralee against a very weak team from Vadovara of India, who were no match for any team in the group and were ruthlessly dispatched by Tralee to top their group and qualify for the semi Final. Highlight of the game was the wonder goal scored by Aaron “Gaza” Houlihan, who having beaten two men, chipped over the advancing keeper with precision and aplomb, to record his first goal at the Games.


The Semi Final was against Polish side Plock, who were the eventual winners of the competition. Physically stronger than Tralee and very skilful in all departments, it was their ability to finish which made the difference in the end. P J Galvin had an outstanding game for Tralee and pulled off many fine saves to keep Tralee in the game at different stages. The Poles led 1-0 after 7 minutes and in the 15th minute their goalkeeper pulled off a top drawer save from Darragh o Brien, which should have brought the equaliser for Tralee. Instead Plock hit their second on a counter attack from the goalie’s save. While Tralee dominated possession for much of the game, very few clear-cut chances were created and it took a penalty from Ian Mc Carthy midway through the second half to finally breach the Polish defence. In a frantic effort to find an equaliser Tralee left themselves exposed at the back and were hit with a sucker punch goal with 3 minutes left to send Plock through to the final where they overcame Athens on a 3-2 score line. Tralee faced Lanarkshire of Scotland for a bronze medal but the pre tournament favourites, who lost controversially to Athens in their semi-final, were too strong for an injury depleted Tralee team and won comfortably 6-0.
Avril Peevers and Deirdre Lawlor finished 10th of 24 overall in the golf competition, played over two days at Harding Park. Both players played consistently throughout, with Deirdre finishing on level par over the two rounds and Avril on 3 under par on both days and the experience gained will surely stand them in good stead in the years ahead.

The travelling party of 30, including athletes, coaches and parents, had a memorable few days after the Games, visiting Alcatraz on a guided tour, cycling across the spectacular Golden Gate Bridge – this will always be a special memory for everyone – participating in a few hair -raising rides at the Great America Theme Park, and of course downtown shopping in Union Square.
The group as a whole will also remember the special reception they received from the Irish Community at the United Irish Cultural Centre and at the Irish Consul’s Office at the beginning of their visit, along with the Cork ladies soccer team, who played brilliantly to secure Silver medals on their first participation at the Games, only losing the final on penalties after extra time.

Once again the International Children’s Games has provided a wonderful opportunity to children from all over the world to compete on an International level and 16 Tralee children will always remember the whole San Francisco experience as special, not only for their own performances, but also for the new friends they have made and for the city itself, which is quite magnificent. “We are extremely grateful to everyone who have made it all possible and in particular to John Byrne, Siobhan O Nuallain and Michelle Culloty for their excellent work with the children both on and off the field while at the Games. Without them, and indeed the co-operation of the children, their parents and the very supportive general public, the experience of participation at the Games might not be possible at all”, said Michael Culloty, Chairman, Tralee ICG. “Next year’s Games are scheduled for the Olympic Arena in Athens in the month of June and we hope to again organise teams to attend and represent Tralee and Kerry in the historic home of the Olympic Games. Now that’s something to really look forward to” he added


San Francisco Teams


Soccer: PJ Galvin, David o Sullivan, Ian Mac Carthy, Daragh O Brien, Anthony Forde, Scott Monaghan, Eoghain Sheehy and Aaron Houlihan


Athletics: Louise O Connor, Molly Mc Gilton, Ciara Walsh, Sinead O Connor and Michael Godley


Golf: Avril Peevers and Deirdre Lawlor

Gallery

A Kerry Success Story!

Tralee and Kerry at the ICG

Tralee/Kerry has participated at the Games of Coventry 2005, Bangkok 2006, Reykjavik 2007, San Francisco 2008, Athens 2009, Manama, Bahrain 2010, Lanarkshire 2011, Daegu 2012 and Windsor 2013 with hundreds of children representing Kerry and Ireland since 2005.

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