It wouldn’t be the same if the rain didn’t join us in Stirling for the annual 7-a-side Gaelic football tournament.
This weekend past, Robert Gordon, University of Aberdeen, University of Edinburgh, Queen Margaret, Strathclyde, University of Glasgow, Glasgow Caledonian University and University of Stirling all competed at Airthrey pitches in the pre-season tournament.
With the elements against us, it was a day for getting the basics right. But on a wet and windy day even that is a challenge.
The Stirling lads were up against it, with the official University of Stirling men’s Gaelic Football club folding last year there had been no training apart from respective club training over the summer. However, there was a quick round up of boys on the Friday evening, and we had as good a team as any to go on Saturday.
Stirling’s first game seen them take on the mighty Robert Gordon University from Aberdeen who got off to a great start only to be halted by Captain Eddie Boyd and Stirling’s Neuer-esque keeper Keith Casey. Emyvale sharp-shooter Conor McQuaid was close to giving Stirling the lead in the first half, only to miss out on a well saved attempt from the Robert Gordon keeper.
Robert Gordon stole a point just before half time to give them a 1 point lead at the break. After the interval Robert Gordon got another early score before McQuaid replied with a well taken free. The nippy Robert Gordon team then took advantage in a lapse of concentration from Stirling to move quickly up the pitch to slot in a crucial goal before the final whistle. Full time score Stirling 0-1 Robert Gordon 1-2.
Stirling were straight into their next game against Heriot Watt University which was a riveting spectacle for the loyal Stirling fans who came in their droves. The noise of the whistle to begin the game was still in the air and Heriot Watt had already got up the field and scored a point.
McQuaid refused to let this upset the momentum gained from the first match and equalised soon after. Continuing in good form James Hempton received the ball in the forward line, taking his man on with ease, fired a rocket in off the crossbar for a goal. Hempton followed this up again by using his mighty stature to pluck the ball out of the air, brushing his man aside and taking his point.
Heriot Watt making a game of it before the whistle went for half time got another two points on the board. Half time score Stirling 1-2 Heriot Watt 0-3.
Heriot Watt came out for the second half with what seemed to be a new lease of life, that or taking advantage of the tiring Stirling players. They scored 1-1 early in the second half to give them a two point lead.
Liam Savage not long back after a County Down senior hurling championship final win, had an engine on him any diesel motor would be proud of; pulled the gap to just a point again. From here on in, Stirling felt the pressure of a relentless Heriot Watt forward line. Solid defending from James McAllister and Jimmy Herlihy meant there was no way through for Heriot Watt bar a last minute long range point. Final score Stirling 1-3 Heriot Watt 1-5.
The third and final game of the tournament for Stirling seen them take on University of Edinburgh. Early points from McQuaid and Hempton seen Stirling take a 2 point lead. McQuaid finding his range put over another point, before living up to his ‘Toblerone toes’ nickname took a shot which went over the side-line and will haunt him for years to come.
Then just before half time Boyd, picking the ball up in his own half, must have thought he was back in Brewster Park with the amount of space he had. Taking on man after man, there was only one place he was headed. After passing four of the opposition with ease and grace he only had the keeper to beat, and that’s exactly what he did with a perfectly placed shot into the top right corner of the net. Half time score Stirling 1-3 University of Edinburgh 0-0.
McQuaid eager to silence the critics found himself in front of the goal again and volleyed the ball neatly into the net after a lovely through ball from Cathal Caldwell. Caldwell followed up the goal with a good individual display and a well taken point. Stirling had a firm grip on this game and determined to finish off the tournament with a win. Savage ended the game with a point after linking up with Cathal Russell and bursting through the middle past two men. Final Score Stirling 2-5 University of Edinburgh 0-0.
Anyone looking to get involved with the men’s Gaelic Football team for the forthcoming season can do so by contacting Eddie Boyd on firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo credit: Fraser Kelly
Stirling team (L-R) – Back row: James McAllister, James Hempton, Liam Savage, Cathal Caldwell, Conor McQuade, Keith Casey. Front row: Jimmy Herlihy, Eddie Boyd, Cathal Russell.