As we know, Féile Na nGael 2020 was scheduled for this weekend with U14 teams from all over the country and beyond due to descend on Meath, Dublin and Kildare for a festival of hurling.
For the second time in three years Longwood were due to host a visiting club - sadly we never found out who, as the Covid-19 pandemic took hold.
One of the special aspects of Féile is that host families welcome visiting players and coaches into their homes for the weekend, in many cases forming lifelong friendships. In the current climate, opening our doors to visiting players was never going to be possible and the GAA had no option but to cancel Féile. It was, and continues to be, a source of disappointment for the players, coaches and the wider community.
Thankfully it has been confirmed that Féile Na nGael 2021 will take place in Meath, Dublin and Kildare so we do have something to look forward to next year. We can only hope and pray that the entire country is in a much better place when the summer of 2021 comes into view.
We know from 2018 that Féile is an amazing experience - it also coincided with an incredibly successful year for our senior footballers. Hopefully we can see a repeat next year!
The report below relates to the Saturday of Féile 2018. It was a day that many of us will never forget
For those in attendance, and there were so many, Saturday 30th June 2018 will surely remain etched in their minds as a special day in the life of Longwood GAA club.
All the preparatory work carried out by everybody in the weeks and months prior to the big day had come to glorious fruition; the clubhouse positively gleamed in the sunshine, the pitch resplendent with new lines, flags, nets and freshly painted goalposts - a fitting setting for the young gladiators from Brittany and Longwood.
As the teams exited the dressing rooms at 09.50 to the iconic melody of The Sunday Game, all the supporters must have wished that they could transport themselves back in time to their fourteenth year.........the opportunity to represent Longwood and Meath in Féile would surely be too much to pass up.
And then the national anthems, sure it would bring a tear to a glass eye! Firstly, La Marseillaise boomed through the speakers, piercing the air with its powerful timbre. The French players clapped their approval. Amhrán Na bhFiann followed soon after with Longwood players and supporters affording it due respect and reverence.
The scene had been set and now the game, months in the making, could begin.
Brittany opened confidently and scored a fantastic point from the left corner forward position.
Longwood were quick to respond with a point from captain and midfield powerhouse Ciaran Sheridan. The following 10 minutes saw the home team exert an amount of control on proceedings, two points from Sam Dixon sandwiching an excellent goal from centre forward Luke Daly.
To their credit, Brittany responded with 2 good points to leave just a goal between the teams at the interval.
Halftime: Longwood 1-3 Brittany 0-3
The third quarter saw further scores from Luke Daly, Sam Dixon and Evan Palmer to extend the home side's lead to 6 points. The boys from Brittany refused to bend and scored a cracking goal which ensured a nervous final couple of minutes for Longwood's players and supporters. The final whistle was greeted with elation, pride and, if we are honest, a significant portion of relief.
Final Score: Longwood 1-6 Brittany 1-3
Longwood: Malachy Fisher, Cathal Brogan, Adam Leacy, Adam Peacock, Coyle O'Brien, Lorcan Hannon, Conor Dixon, Ciaran Sheridan (Capt) (0-1), Quin Fisher, Josh Meagher, Luke Daly (1-1), Noah Furlong, Michael Condon, Sam Dixon (0-3), Luke O'Donnell. Subs: Laoghaire Connolly, Ben McLoughlin, Evan Palmer (0-1), Luke Brady, Fionn Hannon, David Dixon, Timmy Teahan, Shane Campbell
Brittany: Noah Thibault, Ewan Duval, Albin Leloutre, Benjamin Garnier, Meriadec Prugne, Tharek Coubrun, Killian Hervieu (Capt), Hadrien Baudoux, Jawen Esnault, Matheo Simon, Joulio Lucas, Ewenn Delaunay, Hugo Derennes, Erwann Pellard, Idwall Kerloeguen, Thomas Seguy, Lan L'Hostis, Thomas Maret, Enzo Lottin.
In truth, there were no losers, only winners. Longwood had welcomed our guests into our GAA family and we can only salute them for their efforts. As they were to prove later in the competition, they are a serious team who play an exciting brand of football. Their athleticism, sportsmanship and team spirit is a joy to behold and we can learn much from them.
The signage around the grounds bid Céad Míle Fáilte to our new friends and they truly deserved it.
We thank the players on both sides for serving up such an excellent game. There is no doubt that many will go on to represent their clubs at adult level for years to come. Whether they will be lucky enough to enjoy an experience as much as Féile 2018 is open for debate.
A massive THANK YOU to all who made this day possible. There are far too many to mention by name but you know who you are; the Longwood community can be immensely proud of their efforts.
A special word of thanks to Oliver Dixon Plant and Rail Services for generously sponsoring the Longwood team's jerseys, shorts and socks. The team looked fantastic and performed accordingly. To all who supported our many fundraising ventures for Féile we say Go Raibh Míle Maith Agat.
To our club committees (adult and juvenile) we can only share our appreciation - you made it possible and for this you deserve great credit.
As June turned to dusk and July dawned, the feeling that we had witnessed something special hung in the air.
Féile Peile Na nÓg had visited Longwood and sprinkled some gold dust on all in attendance.
A day for the ages..............a day never to be forgotten!