Solar21 Park, Castlebar, Mayo played host to the Connacht Finals of the SPAR FAI Primary School 5s Programme yesterday (Thursday, May 9).
The SPAR FAI Primary Schools 5s Programme has seen participation figures grow year on year to become the largest primary schools’ competition in the country.
37,448 students from 1,696 schools are contesting the SPAR 5s this year, 322 of which hail from Connacht. Through a series of local qualification rounds just 6 of the 30 schools progress from a hard-fought Connacht Finals day onto the National finals.
The ‘A’ Cup, open to boys and/or mixed teams from small schools, had 5 passionate schools with Ardkeeran NS, Sligo triumphant in what was a thrilling contest edging past Brackloon NS, Mayo.
The ‘B’ Cup, for medium sized schools, again proved to be a compelling division with 5 teams involved. The division was eventually won by Cregmore NS, Galway who topped the group on goal difference over a talented Scoil Padraig, Westport, Mayo side.
The ‘C’ Cup, for large schools, was another hard-fought contest between 5 very talented schools. St. John’s NS eventually came out on top of the large school’s division with a gallant St. Joseph’s NS, Ballinrobe in second place.
Ardkeeran NS, Cregmore NS and St. John’s NS will now progress to the National Finals on May 29 in the Aviva Stadium, Dublin.
The rise in the number of girls putting boot to ball has been particularly pleasing for sponsors, SPAR, as 42% of participants are now female. Participation in the girl’s division of the SPAR FAI Primary Schools 5s programme reached an all-time high this year with 15,640 girls from 4th, 5th and 6th class registered making it more competitive than ever.
The Girls ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’ Cup finals were held also held on the day, where there was a fantastic atmosphere throughout the competition.
In the Girls ‘A’ Cup, for small schools, 5 took the honours in a really exciting and hard-fought division with a victorious Lisacul NS, Roscommon overcoming an excellent Ardagh NS, Mayo into second spot.
In the Girls ‘B’ Cup Final, for medium sized schools, Clarinbridge NS, Galway sealed qualification to the next stage after they overcame a tough challenge from Newport NS, Mayo.
Scoil Íde, Salthill put in a fine display against Scoil Iognaid to win the Girls ‘C’ Cup division for large schools with the Salthill school progressing to the National Finals.
The SPAR FAI Primary School 5s Programme has been in existence since the mid 1990’s and has increased student participation levels by 14.5% since 2018 up to 37,448. The competition is run across six divisions, ensuring that schools of all sizes are catered for. Boys and girls are encouraged to play together but there is a separate competition for boys and girls dependent on school enrolment numbers.
Dave Archbold, Secretary of FAI Schools stated, “This is our fifth year with title sponsors SPAR and I am delighted to report that the competition has grown yet again and now firmly holds the title of the largest primary schools’ competition in the country. SPAR’s ongoing support, both nationally and at a local level, has ensured the ongoing success of the programme and given 37,448 children an opportunity to get involved in a professionally-run, fun and inclusive programme. FAI Schools look forward to welcoming schools to the National Finals on Wednesday, May 29 in Aviva Stadium. We would also like to extend our thanks to all schools who have participated in 2019.”
Colin Donnelly, SPAR Sales Director said, “As a community based retailer, SPAR encourages a healthy and active lifestyle and is proud to be a supporter of primary schools’ soccer in association with the FAI. SPAR retailers in Connacht have been getting behind the SPAR FAI Primary School 5s Programme, which encourages children to get involved in football in a fun, safe and inclusive environment.”
The six Provincial Finalists will now travel to Dublin for the National Finals which will be held in the Aviva Stadium on Wednesday, May 29 (KO 11.30am). We would urge all participating schools to take the day off and travel to the Dublin finale to support their school in what should prove to be a phenomenal day for all involved, players and spectators alike.
It promises to be a fantastic fun filled family day with a “Player of the Tournament” accolade for each section, goodie bags and medals for ALL 192 participants as they’re all winners on the day!
Spectators will be entertained with a super day of footie as well as face painting, samba drummers, a well-known DJ to play some great tunes to gear us up for the games and a chance f0r one special supporter to win an epic prize in the Young Sports Journalist competition. You’ll have to stay tuned on the day to see who will be crowned 2019 Champions.
Cheer on the schools from your sofa or office chair if you can’t make the trip to Dublin and follow the progress on the FAI Schools facebook and twitter pages!
Summary of our Connacht winners and runners up
Group Winner Runner Up
‘A’ Cup (small schools) Ardkeeran NS, Sligo Brackloon NS, Mayo
‘B’ Cup (medium schools) Cregmore NS, Galway Scoil Padraig, Westport
‘C’ Cup (large schools) St. John’s NS, Knocknacarra St. Joseph’s NS, Ballinrobe
Girls ‘A’ Cup (small schools) Liscul NS, Roscommon Ardagh NS, Mayo
Girls ‘B’ Cup (medium schools) Clarinbridge NS, Galway Newport NS, Mayo
Girls ‘C’ Cup (large schools) Scoil Íde, Salthill Scoil Iognáid, Gaillimh