Boys and girls from the Annaduff, Dromahair, Gortletteragh and Glencar/Manorhamilton Clubs shared the GAA county grounds on Friday May 11, with the members of the Leitrim team and management personnel.
The occasion was the first ever Championship Open evening, when supporters of all ages were invited to meet the Leitrim team as the players gear up for the forthcoming Connacht Championship clash with London in Ruislip. Followers got to meet and chat with the players and to witness first hand the team preparations for an exciting season to come.
But pride of place went to the youngsters on the Under 10 Blitz teams from the four clubs who strove might and main under the guidance of team mentors, coaches and parents, grannies, grand-das, uncles, aunts and cousins, to show off their already considerable skills and to put down a pointer that they intend to be the Leitrim stars of the future.
Following the games, the Leitrim Under 8 and Under 10 Blitzes were officially launched by Terence Boyle, Cathaoirleach of Coiste na n-Óg, who presented each team with new footballs.
There was more to come for all the children present, when they all combined to play a hilarious challenge match against the Leitrim players, who were tackled, hassled and man-marked by a virtual army of young footballers. It must be said that from goalkeeper Cathal McCrann out, the county team really got into the spirit of things and made the occasion something to remember for their avid young followers, allowing themselves to be beaten to the ball and outplayed throughout the field, with the youngsters banging in the goals.
Activity on the field finished with all the children lining up for High Fives and Handshakes with their county heroes. While the children and adults were treated to refreshments in the dressing rooms and the catering areas, as well as viewing the GAA Historical Murals and visiting the press and commentary boxes and media rooms, the county players were being interviewed by the press and radio, before getting down to the serious business of yet another training session, to ensure all is in place for the London game.
The Open Evening was an unqualified success and much credit must go to the County Board for the initiative. But particular praise and thanks is due to Leitrim PRO Collette Fox who worked so hard to co-ordinate the whole event and also to photographer James Molloy, who had worked in tandem with Collette in promoting the evening, particularly through the county website, leitrimgaa.ie