Lee Keegan does a good impression of a man who isn’t ageing every time he pulls on a Mayo jersey, but occasionally even he can’t ignore the passing of time
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John West, sponsors of the GAA’s annual Féile na nÓg (football) and Féile na nGael (camogie and hurling) competitions, says it is delighted by the introduction of a third tier to the nationwide competition.
What has already grown to become one of the biggest underage sporting events in Europe, will now have a regional dimension, in addition to the well-established national and county competitions.
Throughout its sponsorship, John West has focused on the importance nutrition plays in fuelling young athletes, whilst encouraging children to participate in Gaelic games.
This year, victorious clubs at division two and three levels will play-off on a regional basis in early summer. County competitions will begin in April.
John West Féile will also retain the move to the under-15 age grade, introduced last year to ensure children who missed out due to the pandemic in 2020 got a chance to compete in 2021.
Rounders and handball are also scheduled to make a return to John West Féile this year.
The importance of natural protein in the diets of young athletes was stressed today (Thursday) as John West Féile 2022 was launched at Croke Park by Féile Ambassadors and inter-county stars – Dublin’s Niamh Collins (ladies’ football), Limerick’s Seán Finn (hurling), Mayo’s Lee Keegan (Gaelic football) and Cork captain Amy Lee (camogie).
Leading sports dietician Noreen Roche, who has been involved with 13 All-Ireland winning teams, told the launch that natural protein, Vitamin D and natural Omega 3 are key factors in maintaining good health amongst young athletes.
“Adequate intake of natural protein, Vitamin D and natural Omega 3, are essential to maintaining the health of young people,” said Ms Roche.
“Proteins are the building blocks within the body, responsible for maintenance and repair of tissue.
“Intake of Vitamin D facilitates the normal functioning of the muscles, helps build and maintain healthy bones, and supports the normal functioning of the immune system.
“Oil-rich fish like salmon, mackerel and sardines are good sources of Omega 3 which contribute to the normal function of the heart and keep cells healthy.”
This is the seventh year of John West’s sponsorship of Féile, which brings together thousands of young hurlers, camogie players and Gaelic footballers in a celebration of the GAA’s community ethos through underage competition.
John West Féile 2022 will begin with county camogie and hurling on the weekend of April 16-17, followed by county Gaelic football and ladies’ football on May 1-2.
Regional competitions in camogie and hurling will be held on Saturday, May 28, with the Gaelic football and ladies’ football regional events taking place on Saturday, June 4.
National finals in camogie and hurling will take place on Saturday June 25 in Dublin and Meath with the finals in Gaelic football and ladies’ football happening on Saturday July 2 in Dublin and Kildare.
“Féile gives us the opportunity to highlight the importance of sport in children’s lives and of natural nutrition in their diets,” said John West Ireland General Manager, Peter Rooney.
“John West has created a range of products to support active families in a contemporary way whilst consistently delivering the health benefits of natural protein, natural Omega 3 and Vitamin D.”
Uachtarán CLG, Larry McCarthy, said Féile has been an integral part of the GAA calendar for 50 years.
“It nurtures a love of our games and ensures friendship and memories are among the key benefits of involvement in the GAA.
“Generations have experienced the joy of being a part of Féile na nGael and Féile Peil na nÓg, and I look forward to seeing this great success story continue in all our clubs.
“Our thanks to John West for the support they give us in the promotion of this iconic competition and to the national organising committee for their work on John West Féile 2022.”
Ladies’ Gaelic Football Association President, Mícheál Naughton, said the importance of sport had been emphasised by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“John West Féile encompasses so many key elements of life, with an emphasis on fun, friendship and participation.
“Players will make new friends and re-connect with old friends. John West Féile will once again provide young players with lifelong memories.”
Hilda Breslin, Uachtarán, An Cumann Camógaíochta, said Féile na nGael is, for many players, their first time to compete in a national competition.
“I know their experience will be positive and inclusive and pay tribute to the volunteers who make such a valuable contribution.”