County Longford gets set to celebrate 40 years of

2013 is certainly going to be a year that will provide Co Longford with a wonderful opportunity to showcase all the very best that it has to offer in the community games arena – basketball, handball, hurling, camogie, tennis, football, drafts, rounders ... the list goes on.

2013 is certainly going to be a year that will provide Co Longford with a wonderful opportunity to showcase all the very best that it has to offer in the community games arena – basketball, handball, hurling, camogie, tennis, football, drafts, rounders ... the list goes on.

Outside of the fact that the county’s Community Games committee is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, the event has also allowed for the arrival to this county, of the Leinster Community Games Finals which take place over two weekends – April 7 and July 6, 2013. There was a special 40th anniversary launch night in Edgeworthstown on January 26 last and the National Pitch & Putt Finals are scheduled to take place in Ballinalee throughout the weekend of May 23 and 24 next.

Great excitement will be generated in the county over the coming months as competitiveness and sportsmanship are brought to the fore and organisers are also confident that the county will reap an abundance of financial rewards as participants, parents, supporters and sports enthusiasts descend on the county to enjoy all the very best the community games has to offer.

Joe Fox, Leinster Director and National Director, Community Games and chairman, Longford Community Games spoke to the Leader earlier this week, where he pointed to some of the highlights that can be expected. He also alluded to the “vital role” that community games plays, at grass routes.

“Community Games has been going strong in Longford for 40 years now and there is no doubt that has been a major contributory factor to the development of sport in Ireland during that time,” he said. “One of the highlights of the Lenister Finals will be the hurling – top teams from Dublin, Wexford and from other counties will be here in Longford demonstrating their skills, and it really is something to watch out for. Community Games has been to the fore of sports development in Ireland and young people in Co Longford have achieved so much by their participation as well.”

There have been many local leaders - absolutely dedicated to the cause, it has to be said – over those 40 years, and none more so, than the current county president Patsy Kenny, her husband, the late Josie Kenny and Liz Farrell, to mention but a few. Plans are in the pipeline to honour those, whose work and dedication to the cause, contributed immensely to the growth and development of County Longford Community Games. “There will be a 40th anniversary event which will be held in Ballinalee, in April, however we have yet to finalise a date for that,” Mr Fox continued. “We are creating a Hall of Fame and will honour 18 Longford people for their contribution and commitment to the games in this county over that time – so that will be something to look forward to. It is also important to realise that the Leinster Finals will provide the people of this county with an opportunity to really experience the very best that community games has to offer and to see for themselves what it really is all about. The economic boost to the county will be great and the skills on display will be well worth seeing.”

Grounds and venues in Ballinalee, Edgeworthstown, Killoe and Ballymahon will host the Leinster Finals this year, however with the news this week that the county has applied for a second year – Mr Fox is quietly confident that other venues in the county will be presented with a unique hosting opportunity “next time round”.