Having come through the qualifier stages prior to Christmas, the P7 & P6 boys were eagerly looking forward to another “school away day” with a long trip to Portaferry, only this time they were setting out to achieve what no other team from the Warrenpoint school had managed in previous years to challenge the Ards and south Belfast teams, who had been so dominant over the the years. With a few short words of advice and encouragement from Mr B Rice as they set off shortly after 8am, the mood in the bus was one of excitement, optimism and believe that they could possibly succeed in reaching the final.
Having reached the Portaferry sports centre just before 10:30am, St Dallans were due to play St Malachy’s Kilcoo, St Joseph’s Carryduff & St Patrick’s Ballygalget with the top two teams in the group progressing to the semi-final stages. All games were five-a-side, lasting five minutes straight through with ground hurling only allowed.
In the opening fixture they held their much more fancied opponents St Joseph’s Carryduff to a 1-1 draw, Jarlath Donnelly scoring the all-important equaliser with a fast wristy swing, giving the keeper no chance. Goalkeeper Tiarnan Burns made several breath taking saves and stops and had an excellent days hurling. Whilst the south Belfast boys found it hard to curtail standout player Darragh Austin and James Sweeney in defence, their blocking and ball winning abilities made the St Dallans forwards job so much easier.
In their next fixture St Malachy’s Kilcoo were well beaten 3-1, with Caolan Freer and Ben Lock playing extremely well in midfield and defence. Victory was guaranteed once Niall Rice struck for goal, not once, not twice, but three times! clearly showing that football is not the only sport he can excel in.
Going into the last game of the group stages St Dallans were sitting in prime position knowing that a draw would be good enough to see them through to the semi-finals, but in order to achieve this they would face a much bigger and physically stronger St Patrick’s Ballygalget side that had slipped up against Carryduff in their previous game. The Warrenpoint sides fate was sealed with two quick early goals, Ballygalget taking advantage of the fact that the south Down side were missing possibly their most influential player in Mark Campbell, who was unable to travel due to illness. With their tales up St Patricks pushed on and grabbed a further three goals to quash any thoughts the Warrenpoint side had of staging a recovery.
The two semi-finals were both evenly contested games, with probably the pick of the two games being local rivals St Mary’s Portaferry and St Patrick’s Ballygalget playing out an entertaining 1-1 draw, having to have the matter settled on penalties with the Ballygalget keeper making the all-important save to put his team through. By way of a precursor to the final St Dallans got to round off their day with a challenge game against St Mary’s Kircubbin, taking the lead through a Jarlath Donnelly strike on goal St Mary’s came back with two goals of their own to take the lead. It was then that the youngest and smallest player on the side, Ruairí McIntyre showed a flash of brilliance, with a flick and ground stroke that levelled matters. But the Ards side weren’t willing to lose face and they pounced for two more goals, winning out 4-2.
The final once again through up local rivals Ballygalget and Kircubbin. St Patrick’s Ballygalget had to endure extra time before overcoming neighbours St Mary’s Kircubbin 2-1 in an entertaining and exciting game.
In his closing speech Cumann na mBunscol representative Sean McKinley thanked all the schools and everyone for attending an entertaining and enjoyable day before presenting the shield and medals to winners St Patrick’s Ballygalget.
Mr D McVeigh, St Dallans, who was in charge of the Warrenpoint lads was extremely proud of how all eight boys represented their school and club with pride as they battled hard and never gave up, making the Ards and south Belfast teams sit up and take notice of this talented side.
St. Dallans: Darragh Austin, Tiarnán Burns, Jarlath Donnelly, Caolan Freer, Ben Lock, Niall Rice, James Sweeney & Ruairí McIntyre.
|Group A||Group B|
|St Malachy’s Kilcoo||1-2||St Patrick’s Ballygalget||St Mary’s Kircubbin||6-0||Grange Primary Kilkeel|
|St Joseph’s Carryduff||1-1||St. Dallans||St Mary’s Portaferry||8-0||Grange Primary Kilkeel|
|St Patrick’s Ballygalget||1-3||St Joseph’s Carryduff||St Mary’s Kircubbin||0-0||St Mary’s Portaferry|
|St Malachy’s Kilcoo||1-3||St Dallans|
|St Patrick’s Ballygalget||5-0||St Dallans|
|St Joseph’s Carryduff||2-0||St Malachy’s Kilcoo|
|St Patrick’s Ballygalget||
|St Mary’s Portaferry||St Joseph’s Carryduff||3-2||St Mary’s Kircubbin|
|St Patrick’s Ballygalget||
1 – 1
|St Mary’s Kircubbin|