On 9th October 2006 young pioneers from all four corners of Ireland, their leaders and friends gathered in St Attractas college in Tubercurry. Many months of preparation and very hard work and been undertaken by a small group of pioneers to organise this major event on the pioneer calendar.
The National pioneer sports start as early as Easter with regional and diocesan finals and early summer seeing the provincial finals. The second Saturday in September is now on the Pioneer Calendar as All-Ireland Final day. For the many young pioneers and leaders who prepare for and are successful through the preliminary rounds to reach all-Ireland final day is a huge achievement.
We live in a society where health, diet and fitness are ever-increasing topics of conversation and headlines are formed by Irelands inability to control binge-drinking. More and more the Pioneer sports competition is being recognised as the bridge between alcohol misuse and the need for healthy lifestyle and participation in the community.
For any of you who managed to attend the sports final this year you will be aware of the excellent facilities provided by St Attractas college and the coordination skills of the organising committee under the chairmanship of Thomas Marren.
Games commenced with an official opening by the Pioneer President, Mr Shane Kitson. All but one competition had no entry and all four provinces were represented with many new centres becoming involved. Games continued throughout the day, under the fantastic volunteer referee's and linesmen to whom we are indebted. While gaelic football, badminton and soccer had finished in the early evening, basketball continued until almost 8pm. At this stage main sponsors, and pioneer guests joined in the highlight of the day - presentation of the winning and second place teams with their medals. Cheers of delight proved that the wait was worthwhile and demonstrated that an All-Ireland medal in Pioneer Sports is as important as an all-Ireland in any national non-pioneer competition.
The national Youth committee would like to thank the pioneers in Achonry region for their great hospitality and making our job so easy. They certainly raised the profile of the young pioneer and gave a great display of pioneer enthusiasm and organisation.
We will always remember, as will the competitors, spectators and organisors, the All-Ireland Pioneer sports final of 2006 in St Attracta's college Tubercurry and we look forward to the final next year where it is Leinster's turn to play host to this ever growing competition.
…Congratulations to all who took part, it wouldn't be a competition without you!