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Bray back in the big time

THE notes in the colourful Féile programme told all. Camogie was big in Bray in the 1920s.

Bray won a Dublin Championship in 1929, and they had players on the Dublin All-Ireland winning teams of the 1930s.

Scroll on to the 1970s and Bray were collecting Wicklow titles like pebbles from the beach. Last Saturday, they were back in the big-time.

The Bus éireann National Feile na nGael Division 4 Camogie final in Parnell Park. Out stepped Bray Emmet's.

"Getting to Parnell Park was the icing on the cake for us," announced mentor, Rory McGarry.

"We were so grateful to the Dublin County Board for the invitation and we embraced the competition with open arms.

"We were honoured to be one of the hosts, and, overall, it was a great experience for the club. Judging by the weekend, we can truly say the spirit of Féile is alive and well."

Emmet's welcomed Fermanagh, St Kevin's, Louth and Naomh Fionnbarra to their stately home. Bray proceeded to Friday night's semi-final.

"That was played in Erin's Isle, and despite all the rain, the surface was in excellent condition," reports Rory.

"We played Castleblayney of Monaghan in the semi. In our respective groups, we had both been free-scoring, but this was different. It was just so tight.

"It was nip and tuck all the way. There were only two scores in it -- a goal to us and a point for them. It was a fabulous match."

In the final, Clane took the prize, 2-4 to 1-0.

"They were a very good side who fully deserved it," judged Rory. But Emmet's were also entitled to celebrate. Paul Sweeney is the manager along with Seamus Phelan and Rory.

Entering Féile was a big step into the unknown. Most of their squad are U12, so it was very much a case of testing the waters. "We were delighted with the performances of the girls. They were a credit to the club and they certainly enjoyed it."

Féile 2012 will plant another cap on Bray's head. The old craft is making much progress along the Wicklow Way.

Back in 2004, the sport saw a renaissance.

"All credit to Paul Sweeney who got it up and running," explains Rory.

"We have 100 girls playing now, plus an academy, so it's all going very well."