As the 2016 seven-a-side kicks off, it is remarkable to think that this is the 40th consecutive year that Killarney Athletic has run the tournament, says MIKE O'SULLIVAN
HAVING been part of the organising committee in the first seven-a-side in 1977 it is fantastic to see the competition reaching this milestone year.
Through the founding of the club in 1965 and the formation of the Kerry District League in 1972, Killarney Athletic had run seven-a-side competitions in the Half Moon field and also in the Áras Phádraig pitch prior to 1977. But the 1977 tournament was planned and organised to ensure that soccer would reach a higher level of promotion in Killarney and in the surrounding areas.
The tournament was also the starting point for many players before playing or entering clubs in the Kerry District League. The competition also provided many people with the opportunity to manage a soccer team for the first time and all of the local clubs today are fortunate to have such committed club officials and volunteers who gained an interest in organising teams through involvement in the seven-a-side at underage or senior level.
Teams with players from Ballyhar, Mastergeeha and Kenmare were all keen competitors in the seven-a-side and of course the majority of players who played with the Killarney Albion team that were runners-up in the 1977 final joined Killarney Rangers to form Killarney Celtic in the ’77/’78 Kerry District League season.
The dawn of the first underage seven-a-side tournament in 1978 became a nursery for young players in Killarney and surrounding areas, while the first ladies seven-a-side in 1990 proved to be a major success.
An over-35s competition followed in 1993, becoming very popular by allowing the “ageing stars” to continue to show off their skills and prove that seven-a-side football can be enjoyed even when the joints and limbs have slowed down.
There is no doubt that there were many contributing factors as to why the seven-a-side became such a popular local sporting event over the years with participation and a sense of community to the fore. The hosting of the tournament in the Áras Phádraig pitch from 1977 to 1998 with the support of the Franciscan community was key to the tournament’s popularity, growth and success.
The venue in the heart of town ensured a “buzz” in the area throughout the summer months with friends and work colleagues forming annually into teams with all sorts of colourful names.
The format of the tournament starts out with teams in groups ensuring a minimum number of games for each team. The more serious competition begins with the knock-out stages with teams thereafter competing for the Premier and Reserve Cups. The “no off-side” rule also makes seven-a-side soccer more enjoyable for players and spectators and makes the referee’s life a little easier.
Early years of the seven-a-side
The first seven-a-side in ’77 had 20 teams entered with each team restricted to only two registered club players from the Kerry District League. This rule forced teams to gather players who were not playing soccer in the Kerry League at the time while also encouraging work colleague and friends to form teams. This rule changed after a few years with the increase of players registering and playing in the KDL thereafter.
Firms such as Tuf Shoes, Scotts Tools and Liebherr all entered teams into the ‘77 tournament with many other notable firms competing in the following years and to the present day.
Sponsored teams from the Laurels, Tatler, Sweeney’s, Corkery's, Belvedere and Old Kentucky were all to the fore of competition in the early years and some still endure to the present day. Ryan’s and The Castle Heights Hotel also entered teams in the ‘77 event while a competitive team from Scartaglin were the first ‘out of town’ team to challenge for the Killarney Autos sponsored cup. The event also had the added attraction of prize money for the winners and runners-up and this was first sponsored by Con O’Leary of the Laurels Bar. As well as promoting the game locally the club also donated a contribution of funds raised to a number of local charities with St Mary of the Angels in Beaufort being a beneficiary of the early tournaments.
Support of the local media
The coverage and support of the local media also contributed hugely to the growth of the tournament over the years as the event got massive exposure as an annual local sporting community event. This media exposure also encouraged the local business community to support the event through sponsorship.
The support and sponsorship of the tournament was also a major contributing factor that allowed the club to purchase and develop its own pitch facility in Woodlawn in 1993.
End of an era in the Áras Phádraig pitch
The 1998 seven-a-side was to prove to be the last staging of the competition in the “Áras pitch” as the Lewis Road ground was purchased in 1999 by the Urban District Council so as to provide another bus and car park for Killarney.
This indeed marked the end of an era for the tournament but the years of seven-a-sides in the Aras at underage and senior level with the sporting and social outlet it provided will always remain in the minds of those who enjoyed the pleasure it brought.
The moving of the seven-a-side to the club’s ground in Woodlawn in 1999 represented a major change for the tournament but to the credit of all who organised, promoted and supported the event over the years it continued to prosper in the new venue. This year’s tournament also marks the 18th year of the seven-a-side in Woodlawn.
Little did those of us who were in the organising committee of the first seven-a-side back in 1977 think that we would see the tournament run annually for the following 40 years but the credit for its longevity is ingrained in the spirit it captured through the support of the whole community and something that we all can be proud of.
Pictured above, back left, Mike O’Connor, James Gleeson (RIP), Billy Doyle, Mike “Smiler” Moloney, Denny Hayes, Donagh Gleeson, Pat “Pogs” Looney; front left, Barry O’Connor, Toni Fleming, John Joe Grady, Sean Kelliher.
Local soprano releases new single
Local soprano Mary Culloty O’Sullivan has released her second self-penned single. Following the success of her debut song ‘Forever and a Day’ which was released on July 16 and was aired on radio stations all over the world and on streaming platforms like Spotify, YouTube and iTunes, her second single was released last Friday. ‘Before […]
Local soprano Mary Culloty O’Sullivan has released her second self-penned single.
Following the success of her debut song ‘Forever and a Day’ which was released on July 16 and was aired on radio stations all over the world and on streaming platforms like Spotify, YouTube and iTunes, her second single was released last Friday.
‘Before You Leave Me’ has a Jazz influence. Mary has been writing her own songs since March this year covering several different genres.
“Tony O’Flaherty of Sonas Studios has brought my songs to life and I am delighted with the production on the songs,” Mary told the Killarney Advertiser.
Fun Urban Orienteering event coming to Killarney town
The event is free, open to all ages, levels of fitness and is both wheelchair and buggy friendly.Kerry Recreation and Sports Partnership are calling on you, to get out and #BeActive as part of European Week of Sport 2021, which runs from September 23 to 30. Sport Ireland, the national coordinating body for European Week of Sport in […]
The event is free, open to all ages, levels of fitness and is both wheelchair and buggy friendly.
Kerry Recreation and Sports Partnership are calling on you, to get out and #BeActive as part of European Week of Sport 2021, which runs from September 23 to 30.
Sport Ireland, the national coordinating body for European Week of Sport in Ireland hope that this year’s event will inspire even more people than previous years and has funded multiple flagship as well as local events run by the Network of Local Sports Partnerships, including this ‘Family Street Orienteering Kerry’ event.
“This free event looks to offer everyone an opportunity the get out and be active and maybe try something new,” Gearóid O Doherty, the Coordinator of Kerry Recreation and Sports Partnership said.
“Urban Orienteering is an activity that you can do on your own or with your family and friends. You get to challenge yourself a little and still go at a pace that suits you – and what a beautiful location to do it all in, Killarney town!
“With many people possibly new to the Kerry region, be that through work, college or otherwise, this is an ideal way to get involved in the community and explore the streets and lanes of Killarney in a fun and active way.”
The Kerry Orienteers Club have designed the courses for this event and are looking forward to the excitement of it all and helping those new to the sport to continue taking part in the months and years that follow.
“We know that, for a lot of people, this will be their first time trying orienteering, but they can rest assured, as we will be there to talk them through it and help them out if needed,” Brendan O’Brien from Kerry Orienteers said.
“If it is something they want to try again, we can signpost them to other events, both locally here in Kerry and indeed nationally. Orienteering is a fantastic sport that allows you to build your skills and confidence, with all events having a variety of routes to cater for all levels.”
To cater for physical distancing and government guidelines, there are several staggered start times for participants to choose from, beginning at 6pm and the last group heading off at 7.30pm. With free t-shirts for all who sign up and additional workshops onsite, from the likes of Leave No Trace Ireland, it is sure to be a fun and vibrant evening, all stemming from the start point at ANAM – Killarney’s Arts and Culture Centre.
Places are limited for this event. Free online registration is available and those looking to attend are encouraged to book their place early to avoid disappointment.
For more information, you can visit any of the Kerry Recreation and Sports Partnership social media accounts or go to www.sportireland.ie.
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