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La na gClub celebrated in glorious sunshine

12 May 2009

Maghery Sean McDermott's commemorated the founding of the GAA 125 years ago, in grand fashion on Sunday May 10th 2009. Under clear blue skies and drenched in sunshine, this gaelic footballing community on the shores of Lough Neagh came together to celebrate and enjoy a most memorable and proud milestone.

Proceedings began with a special Mass at Our Lady Queen of Peace Church, Maghery. All football teams and those affiliated to the club turned out in our vibrant club colours, filling the chapel with an array of bright blue and yellow. Senior players David Lavery and Kevin Nugent said the readings and young members from our primary school read the prayers of the faithful.

The offertory procession was beautifully carried out and proved to be a very poignant part of the Mass. Cora Robinson, daughter of our youth officer, Eamon Robinson, along with youth player Tomas McConville, carried down the Mass gifts. They were then followed by Colm Haslem who carried down a large piece of artwork produced by the Primary 7s of St Mary's PS Maghery, which will be displayed in our clubrooms.

Brian Fox Jnr, son of our main sponsor, Brian Fox of Bann Ltd, carried down the new 125 GAA Maghery jersey. He was followed by club president, Noel Toye, who carried down the 125 GAA flag. Senior team captain Seamus Forker presented the Maghery Minor-7's trophy - the 'Kevin Rafferty Jnr Memorial Cup' to be blessed and Aphonis Tennyson presented his father Aloysius' memorial cup, trophy for Maghery's upcoming B tournament.

Captain of this years winning Dungannon Academy side, David Lavery, then carried down the MacRory Cup. After him was Kevin Nugent who carried down his Colleges All-Star, our clubs first. Last but not least was four year old Dylan Robinson, son of senior team manager, Jimbo, and he carried down a match football.

The whole procession was expertly narrated by our club secretary, Mrs Claire Campbell and local traditional musicians led by Gerry Lappin provided an evocative background instrumental throughout. Our parish priest, Fr Eamon McCamley officiated and provided his congregation with a thoughtful, and of course at times humourous, reflection on the importance of the GAA culture and the Church in Irish communities.

Mrs Siobhan Robinson and Brian Nugent, along with a lot of input from Maghery primary school principal Mr Jim Lee, made sure the club's role in the Mass was performed aptly. After Mass, all football teams lined out in the glorious sunshine to parade from the chapel down to the football field behind the excellent Edendork Pipe Band, whose presence added immensely to the sense of occasion.

Leading the band to Felix Hamill Park in a blue and yellow bedecked vintage car supplied by Mr Conor Mc Niece, was Mrs Mini Hamill, wife of the late and Maghery great, 'Failey' Hamill, after whom our gaelic football park is named. On reaching the field, the parade continued around it and came to a halt at the flagposts where the 125 GAA flag was raised to fly alongside our national, provincial, county and club flags.

Our chairman, John Robinson, lead the speeches before professional photographer Michael Campbell was called upon for the photo-shoot. While refreshments were served, our senior team was officially presented with their new set of jerseys by Brian Fox of Bann Ltd. Kevin Rafferty Snr and nephew Seamus Forker presented the club with the minor sevens cup, and Seamus Donnelly, Mrs Pauline Tennyson and Aphonis Tennyson presented the B cup to the club.

While the local senior citizens (mostly the bingo club!) enjoyed their tea and scones in the sunshine, courtesy of Mrs Jean Fox, Mrs Bernie Cusack and Mrs Josie McKernan, the youth players took over the field for their skills activities and games, thoroughly enjoying the occasion and the spectators! Patricia Corr was then on hand to face paint and did a good job of keeping the younger members entertained around the park.

Youth Officer Eamon Robinson was thankful to be presented with sweat tops for all underage players sponsored by Sean Cushnahan, and Mark Convie of Whiteisland Nurseries. Then came the turn of the seniors and the very senior(!) as Maghery Under 23s played Maghery Over 23s, under the close supervision of referee for the day, Frank Rafferty.

Not to be out-done, the Maghery girls were next up with an entertaining and closely contested(!) game of rounders, well organised by Aileen Cusack. This brought the programme for the day to a close, but no-one wanted a most uplifting day to end, and many remained on into the evening relaxing on the clubs decking area.

Maghery GFC would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who contributed in any way to this most successful, happy, and at many times, emotional day. Cahir Forker was on hand to record the whole affair and it is hoped that we will have a commemorative DVD of Maghery's La na gClub celebration in the near future.


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