BY KIERAN McCARTHY
BILL Harte will be one of the most easily recognisable people at the All-Ireland finals of Scór this Saturday in Belfast – he’ll be the man with the broadest smile of satisfaction that will light up The Waterfront Hall.
Involved locally in Scór since its inception in 1969, 48 years ago, he will be the proudest man at this weekend’s finals as four Carbery Scór na nÓg acts bid for All-Ireland glory.
When you consider that Tadhg MacCarthaigh (1988) and Ilen Rovers (2004) are the only West Cork clubs to win ever Scór na nÓg titles in the past, for the division to have four clubs – Tadhg MacCarthaigh, Carbery Rangers, Clann na nGael and Sam Maguires – represented this weekend is a fantastic feat for all involved.
‘This is the first time that four Carbery acts have qualified together for the All-Ireland finals,’ said Bill Harte, of Carbery Rangers GAA fame.
‘If we got one we would be very happy, so to have the four that won the county win Munster as well is quite unusual.
‘I remember right back to the very start of Scór in 1969 and we’ve been involved ever since. The first Scór competition was held in Ballinascarthy hall and we won the ballad group on the same night.
‘Scor na nÓg started then in 1973, and the first one to win a Munster title in Scór na nÓg from the club was Michelle Hayes in 2006. A novelty act, called The Titanic, won a Munster title in 2012, and went to the All-Ireland final in Castlebar.
‘Any year, it’s nice to win a West Cork to keep people ticking over, so this year has been especially memorable.’
As for Carbery’s chances of winning an All-Ireland on Saturday, Bill is optimistic, quipping, ‘We’ll have a cut at it anyway.’
Carbery Scór secretary Gabrielle Crowley is understandably thrilled with the achievements of the local acts, who have qualified for Saturday’s All-Ireland final, and she feels it’s a big boost to Scór’s profile.
Scór takes in eight competition disciplines that cover all aspects of Irish culture: figure dancing, solo singing, recitation/storytelling, instrumental music, léiriú, ballad group, set dancing and table quiz.
Competitors compete at club, regional, county and provincial level, with winners progressing through each stage, to ultimately reach the All-Ireland finals, this year being held in The Waterfront Hall, Belfast.
There are three age groups – Scór na bPáistí for primary school kids, Scór na nÓg is for U17s, and Scór Sinsear is for adults.
Gabrielle was thrilled when the four Carbery acts won Munster Scór na nÓg titles at Ovens last month.
‘This is unprecedented, to have four Carbery acts in the All-Ireland final; it’s unbelievable,’ she said.
‘It’s fantastic for Scór locally; it’s a great boost.
‘We were at a Scór na bPáistí semi-final last weekend in Ballydehob, there was a great buzz around the place. Castlehaven were back after a spell away, and clubs like Muintir Bhaire, Newcestown and Kilbrittain were entered too, which is fantastic.
‘This trip to Belfast will raise the profile even more and hopefully attract more clubs to enter and get involved.’
Gabrielle also thanked the Carbery Junior Board who have sponsored the 18 local competitors for their trip to Belfast this weekend, while noting the hard work and fantastic service that former secretary Anne O’Neill, from Union Hall, has given to Scór locally.
This Friday there will be a mass exodus from West Cork to Belfast as the four Scór acts, their families and supporters head north in preparation of Saturday’s All-Ireland final.
From Tadhg MacCarthaigh, a bus has been organised and 50 are expected to travel, as Geraldine Keohane explains.
‘There’s great interest locally, there’s huge goodwill, there are banners and posters up and there will be a great following in Belfast,’ she said.
Tadhg MacCarthaigh will compete in the production class, leiriú, the same discipline that the club won an All-Ireland in back in 1988. The act includes Oisín Daly, Rory Kingston, Eugene Daly, Catríona Keohane, Katie Daly, Timothy Farrell, Maeve Kingston and Louise Keohane, with Bernadette Daly the driving force behind this powerful take on ‘Dear Old Skibbereen’.
‘It’s a very moving and very strong performance,’ Geraldine added.
Sam Maguires will be represented by Shannon Buttimer in recitation, who won the recent Munster title when her offering titled ‘Mary Ann MaGee’ was deemed the best on show, as she beat acts from Kerry, Clare and Tipperary.
Carbery Rangers have a very strong history in Scór and they will compete in the Ballad Group competition thanks to their line-up of Joan O’Donovan, Aoife McSweeney, Kate Creedon, Rachel Hodnett and Orlagh O’Gorman.
‘Carbery Rangers is a club with a Scór tradition and has been participating since 1969. Rosscarbery Ladies Football Club, formed in 1983, has also competed in Scór. Our club has reached many Scór na nÓg and Scór Sinsear All-Ireland finals, most recently our Scór Sinsear ballad group in 2016,’ explained Jospehine Lynch.
‘Joan, Aoife, Kate, Rachel and Orlagh, their powerful rendition of ‘Through the Eyes of an Irish Man’ and ‘Níl na Lá’ are sure to bring the house down this weekend.’
Clann na nGael will also be flying the West Cork flag this Saturday when they compete in the instrumental music section with a selection of jigs and reels titled ‘The Monaghan Jig’ and ‘Johnny Cronin’s Reel’. Davina Connolly, Saoirse Connolly, Andrew Collins and Molly McQueen have worked extremely hard in preparation of this weekend.
Fingers crossed that there will be bonfires burning in West Cork this Sunday to welcome home our local Scór na nÓg heroes.