PHOTOS: A Memorable Week For Tralee Team At International Games

Posted by


Mike Culloty of Tralee International Games reflects on a great week for the Tralee team over in Lithuania, even if incidents in a soccer match where two Tralee players had to be hospitalised left a sour taste…

Tralee Basketball team in the stocks.

THE Tralee International Children’s Games teams returned from Kaunas, Lithuania on Sunday evening with great memories of shared experiences on and off the playing fields.

The Tralee teams had performed with distinction in soccer, basketball, judo and athletics while the travelling supporters/family members were a tremendous assistance to coaches and teams.

Incredibly Tralee had a full delegation of 50 members at the event and the largest number of supporters of any town or city at the Kaunas Games.

Continued below…


All helped to further Tralee’s reputation at the Games and produce an experience that will linger in the memory for all athletes, coaches and supporters.

The Tralee Athletics team.

They arrived in Kaunas on June 29 and enjoyed time to explore the city’s attractions — despite the mixed weather conditions —  including a visit to Trakai Castle, which was an early point of fortification and power for the dukes of the region.

They also visited Vilnius and a tour to the Open Air Museum of Lithuania in Rumsiskes, Uno Park — an adventure forest park.

On Tuesday, July 4, the various teams from the 88 cities represented at the Games by the participating 1,750 athletes began to arrive in Kaunas.

Competitions began on Thursday and all Tralee teams were in action. On the Track Sean and Tim Pollmen-Daamen both finished 4th in their respective heats of the 1500m in times of 4:34.83 and 4:42.72 respectively, which placed Sean in the A Final, and Tim in the B Final on Friday.

Tim ran first and was just pipped at the post into second place in a time of 4:33:20-9 seconds up on his heat time-a remarkable achievement. Sean finished 11th in the A Final in a time of 4:36:39 and both boys can be really proud of their performances as they were a year younger than most of their competitors. In the 400m heat Basit Oyejambi ran well and finished 4th in a time of 56:94, which did not allow him to advance.

The Tralee and Mexico teams unite.

In basketball the Tralee team of Mary O’Connell, Aoife Dillane, Rachel Kilgallen and Rebecca Conway played in the first ever 3V3 competition at the Children’s Games. They suffered a heavy defeat in their opening game 17-5 to hosts Kaunas but bounced back to defeat Tripoli of the Lebanon in their second game on the same score line. In their final group game against Raanana of Israel they went under by just one point (5-4) after both teams had battled hard for a quarter final placing.

Continued below…


The team then went into a group to finalise places from 9th to 16th, and defeated Netanya from Israel 17-6, to put the previous day’s disappointment behind them. Playing with renewed confidence the girls overcame Darmstadt of Germany 15-4 in what was their best overall display, and then went on to defeat Kitchener of Canada in their final game. This gave the girls a final placing of 9th overall in Tralee’s first outing in 3V3 basketball, winning four games from six.

Tralee soccer team in the opening game.

In Judo Sean Murphy was first into the fray and was thrown ippon by his Lithuanian opponent; his second fight against a Polish athlete, which lasted the full four minutes,  ended with his opponent having scored 2 wazari before time ran out.

Both bouts were hard fought and intense but Sean was out of the U 45 kg competition. Chris Palmer followed and won his first bout with an impressive throw for ippon against an Israeli opponent.

He lost by 2 wazari to a Swedish opponent after the clock had timed out. He then had a bronze medal fight against another Israeli but lost in an osaekomi hold down of 20 secs. Marko Kauric lost to an Israeli opponent in round 1 with an ippon, while his Slovenian opponent in Round two trapped him after a tremendous battle and won the match on an osaekomi hold down.

Tralee team and supporters at the Funicular railway line.

All three judokas performed with intensity and determination but just fell a little short on the day.

The football team won their two group games on the Thursday, 12-0 against a weak Garliava of Lithuania in game 1, with Irish internationals Sean McGrath and Sean Kennedy scoring 4 goals apiece, ably assisted by Leo Gaxha (2), Soni Ramani and Philip Lynch.

Game 2 against Pesnica of Slovenia ended with a 6-1 final score line, having been tied at 1-1 at half time. It was very tight in the first half with Pesnica taking the lead in the 3rd minute, levelled on 15 minutes by McGrath.

Tralee lads escort a bride to her wedding.

Once the team scored their second and third in the second half Pesnica seemed to crumble and Tralee, powered on by Junior Ankoma-the team’s most consistent player at the Games- and Kevin Goulding went on to win 6-1, with all six goals coming from Kennedy and McGrath (3 each).

The final group game against Kecskemet of Hungary on Friday morning and ended with a 3-2 victory for Tralee to top the group. Padraig Hilliard was sound in goal throughout and was unlucky not to stop the second goal scored from a rebound after a great save late in the game. Once more Kennedy and Mc Grath (2) were the scorers, with Soni Rramani having a top class game in the middle of the park.

The quarter final saw Tralee paired against Sopron, another of the Hungarian teams. Tralee lost this game 4-2 and so exited the competition but the game will be remembered for all the wrong reasons.

Tralee v Garlic.

The lack of sportsmanship displayed by players and officials from Sopron, their win at all costs attitude, the rash of late and dangerous tackles which were never addressed by the referee throughout, and the constant intimidation and trash talking of their opponents, all left a very bad taste in the mouth afterwards.

Irish international Sean Mc Grath had to retire from the game with a knee injury after 15 minutes after a tackle from the goalkeeper which was a stonewall penalty, but never given.

Sean Kennedy was the recipient of numerous tackles throughout, some of which were deserving of red cards, and like his fellow international Mc Grath ended up in hospital after the game.

Both returned to Tralee in plaster, Kennedy with a cast on his ankle, Mc Grath with a full length cast to immobilise his knee. Tralee ICG intend to write to the Technical Commission of the ICG governing body to complain the lack of officiating and sportsmanship in the match.

Tralee fell behind twice in the match, but each time levelled through Sean Kennedy, whose performance was incredible in the circumstances, and especially after McGrath’s injury.

All of the team responded magnificently to the situation and none more so than Goulding, Gaxha and Rramani. The final two goals were conceded in the fourth last and final minutes. The competition was eventually won by Kecskemet, who had earlier been beaten in the group game by Tralee.

It is true that this was a disappointing match, a display of complete lack of sportsmanship. In our 13 years taking teams to the Games this was easily our worst experience on the field of play.

However the overall experience of good sportsmanship in competition, of Lithuanian history and culture in our early days in Kaunas, of the wonderful people and their hospitality, and of the significant contribution by our athletes and supporters which enhanced the Games experience of others, will eventually be what is remembered by all.

It was fabulous to have so many parents and families with us and they were a constant source of support and help to our athletes and coaches, who once again did a tremendous job supervising and caring for the children. It should be noted that the parents also provided us with many moments of good humour and a bit of craic throughout the week”.

The Tralee ICG teams were coached by Liam Culloty, Paul Dolan, Paula Henry and Danny Roche; the head of delegation was John Byrne and all five did a wonderful job of caring for the children at the Games University accommodation and at all relevant events. The teams representing Tralee and Ireland at the Games were:

Soccer: Sean Mc Grath (Park FC), Philip Evans, Leo Gaxha, Junior Ankomah, Sean Kennedy, Soni Rramani, (Tralee Dynamos), Padraig Hilliard, (Castleisland FC), Kevin Goulding (Ratoo Rovers)

Basketball: Rachel Kilgallen, Aoife Dillane, Mary O Connell, Rebecca Conway (Tralee Imperials)

Judo: Chris Palmer, Sean Murphy, Marco Antonio Kauric (Kerry School of Judo)

Athletics: Basit Oyejambi, (Tralee Harriers), Sean Pollmen-Daamen, Tim Pollmen-Daamen (An Riocht)

Tralee ICG acknowledges the support and extends their appreciation to all who helped in any way to make participation at the event possible for these young athletes. Thank you.

Comments are closed.