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.
Hike up Strickeen Mountain for air ambulance
Locals and visitors are being invited to join a guided ascent of Strickeen Mountain on July 4 to raise funds for the Irish Community Air Ambulance. The hike, described as an easy to moderate climb and family friendly well be led by Killarney-based Irish Community Air Ambulance volunteer and tour guide Krzysztof Szwab. It […]
Locals and visitors are being invited to join a guided ascent of Strickeen Mountain on July 4 to raise funds for the Irish Community Air Ambulance.
The hike, described as an easy to moderate climb and family friendly well be led by Killarney-based Irish Community Air Ambulance volunteer and tour guide Krzysztof Szwab.
It is expected that the 7.5km hike will take around three hours to complete and participants will benefit from the expertise of Krzysztof for a minimum donation €10 per person or €20 per family.
Strickeen Mountain is the eastern most peak of the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks and the hike will start from the Gap of Dunloe at 11am on the day.
As an added bonus fruit and water, donated by local supermarkets including Lidl, Aldi and Daly’s SuperValu, will be provided. The first 20 to register will receive a limited edition Irish Community Air Ambulance face covering snood.
“This is an ideal opportunity for someone who has never climbed this mountain, but wants to do it with the help of an experienced guide,” Donie Lucey, who is one of the Irish Community Air Ambulance’s chief fundraisers, said.
Further details are available from Donie on 086 854 5873 or from Krzysztof on 087 7589697 after 6pm.
Golf club launches Summer Series competition
By Sean Moriarty Competitive golfing has resumed at Killarney Golf and Fishing Club marking another step towards normality in the locality. The O’Mahony’s Point course hosted an open singles event on Monday last and this competition will continue every Monday for the rest of the summer. Meanwhile the club’s ‘TaylorMade’ Summer Series gets underway at […]
By Sean Moriarty
Competitive golfing has resumed at Killarney Golf and Fishing Club marking another step towards normality in the locality.
The O’Mahony’s Point course hosted an open singles event on Monday last and this competition will continue every Monday for the rest of the summer.
Meanwhile the club’s ‘TaylorMade’ Summer Series gets underway at the famed Killeen course this coming Wednesday (June 23). This series will continue every Wednesday for eight weeks and top five scorers on each date will qualify for a Grand Final which is scheduled for Sunday, August 22.
“We are delighted to launch the ‘TaylorMade’ Summer Series. This is a singles stableford event taking place on the Irish Open course, Killeen,” said the club’s marketing manager Meg Dalton. “With over €8,000 worth of prizes to be won, this is an event not to be missed. The first opportunity to qualify for the grand final is Wednesday.”
Investigation continues into New St fire
Killarney Gardai are continuing their investigation into the cause of a fire on New Street last week. The fire broke out at the Eviston House Hotel in the early hours of Bank Holiday Monday (June 7). It started in a room just off the kitchen on the first floor and spread along the venting […]
Killarney Gardai are continuing their investigation into the cause of a fire on New Street last week.
The fire broke out at the Eviston House Hotel in the early hours of Bank Holiday Monday (June 7).
It started in a room just off the kitchen on the first floor and spread along the venting and ducting on the first, second and third floors. There was heavy smoke throughout the hotel but all guests were evacuated safely.
The landmark hotel, which also houses the famous Danny Mann pub, has not yet reopened, and local Gardai are still investigating its cause.
“The investigation is ongoing,” a Killarney Gardai Station spokesperson told the Killarney Advertiser. “We are establishing the full facts in relation to the fire.”
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