The Longford Under-14 Ladies Gaelic football team got more than they bargained for on a recent visit to Scotland. Travelling over for a tournament near Glasgow, the team had to take shelter at a resource centre in Stranraer because Arctic conditions forced the closure of roads throughout the region.
“We were travelling to a tournament in Coatbridge, which is about 10 miles from Glasgow,” said Barbara Jones of the team’s management staff. “We made it to the ferry in Belfast okay, but about halfway through the journey to Cairnryan, there was announcement saying the road we had to take was closed due to snow.”
Despite being unable to reach their destination right away, the travelling party were lucky enough to avail of emergency accomodation laid on for stranded Ferry passengers. “The winds caused snow drifts about six or seven feet deep,” Barbara continued. “There were cars abandoned and trucks jacknifed on the road. We had a police escort to Stranraer, where we were brought to a council resource centre. I have to say we were very well looked after there – we were kept warm and any amount of food and drink was made available to us. We knew we could do nothing about the situation, so it was a case of going with the flow and keeping the parents back home informed.”
At one point, the Ladies’ team thought they might have to head back on the ferry, but the roads were re-opened the following afternoon. “The road re-opened around 3pm the next day, and once we got going there were no delays. It took us about two-and-a-half hours to get to Coatsbridge,” Barbara explained.
Due to the delay in reaching their destination, and with a football tournament still to play, the team decided they would stay an extra night: “We spoke to our bus driver, Brian, and he contacted Carrigys back home, who said it would be no problem. The hotel we were staying in were also very good to us – they let us stay the extra night for free, as we hadn’t been able to reach it on the Friday night. Everyone was very helpful wherever we went, and they all praised the girls for their exceptional behaviour under the circumstances.”
The Longford Ladies went on to win the tournament in Coatsbridge, which made the trip worthwhile, regardless of the disruption. “It was a great weekend of football and a wonderful experience for all those involved,” Barbara said. “The Longford girls did their county proud and were excellent ambassadors for the sport wherever they went.”