THIS coming Saturday five young people from Saul, Co. Down will be representing their community, club, county and province of Ulster on the All-Ireland Stage in the Royal Theatre, Castlebar, at the Scór na nÓg final.
Gareth McGreevy, Saul GAC Cultural Officer, said, “For many people involved in the GAA, it is merely a dream to have the opportunity to compete in an All-Ireland Final but for the Saul Club they are representing Ulster in two competitions in the All Ireland Final – Solo Singing and Ballad Group.
“Sarah McVeigh has just turned 17 and after having won the County progressed to beat the current All-Ireland Fleadh Solo Singer in the Ulster Final with her rendition of John Condon. The song tells the story of the youngest Irish Soldier to die in the First World War and Sarah’s rendition had the adjudicators give her three firsts at the Ulster Final.
“I remember Sarah coming into the club five years ago to take part in the ballad group and we could barely hear her singing and now she is representing us in the All-Ireland final. For me this is what Scór is all about … watching people grow and come out of themselves and fostering new talent.” Sarah, who is studying for her AS-Levels in the Assumption Grammar School in Ballynahinch is multi-talented as she will also be accompanying herself on the harp – a truly difficult task for someone so young, but this young girl proves that age is no barrier.”
Sarah will then be joined by friends Claire Curran, Hannah Kelly, Aisling Murphy and Ríoghnach Madden for the Ballad Group competition. The group ranges from 13 years of age to 17 years of age with some members having been with the group for 5 years right down to two members having only joined the group this year. This is the second time within three years that the Saul Club have successfully been crowned Ulster Champions but only one of the original members from the 2009 All-Ireland winning Group remains, and that is Sarah.
Gareth added, “Having already won an All-Ireland in 2009 with the Ballad Group, Sarah was able to give advice to her fellow team-mates and said, “We just have to go on stage and enjoy ourselves… we have done all the hard work and preparation. We have what it takes to win as long as we stay focused.” The girls will be singing ‘Eireann Grá mo chroí’ and the County Down song, ‘The Flower Of Magherally O!’
“For Sarah this is the opportunity to bring two more All-Ireland Medals home to her province, county and community and for the other four girls, the reality of an All-Ireland medal is so close and within their reach.” Gareth is also a musical mentor to both Sarah and the Ballad Group and he added that he could forsee a double win. “There is no reason that both acts can not claim All-Ireland victory. This group of girls have been a pleasure to work with and out of any group I have worked with really deserve it.
“We have had great craic and fun at rehearsals and got the job done at the same time. “Sarah’s rendition is so unique and the Ballad Group have a unique sound also and I know both acts have what it takes to come back to Down singing of All-Ireland glory. But it is not all about the winning – obviously the girls, myself, the club and the County all want them to win but regardless of what happens on Saturday they have been a fantastic bunch of enthusiastic musicians, kept the songs, music and culture going in our local area and we will have a great weekend in Castlebar.”
Gareth paid tribute to the late Phil Stratton who planted the seeds for Gareth’s interest in Scór. “10 years ago this year I got a phonecall from Phil asking me to be involved in the Scór. She very soon came to be a close friend and I have never looked back since. Scór has played such an important part in my life and I know Phil will be looking down on the girls as they take to the stage on Saturday and she will be so proud,” said Gareth.