Sports

Memorable month for Omagh school

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Memorable month for Omagh school thumbnailThe Sacred Heart Collge Omagh Dankse Bank Faul cup winning team.

THURSDAY'S Nagle Cup success comes just weeks after Sacred Heart College collected their first ever Ulster title, comfortably seeing off the challenge of De La Salle Belfast in the Faul Cup final in Ardboe,

This season saw Sacred Heart join the new Ulster Schools format for the first time. After the amalgamation of St Patrick's boys and St Brigid's girls' schools in 2000, they won back to back Tyrone U16 Vocational Schools titles in 2007 and 2008. The Faul Cup title however represented the school's first piece of silverware since that success.

The school has played their part in boosting the GAA scene within the county down through the years, with current star Mark Bradley and recent panellist Barry Tierney just two of the school's former pupils. Members of current county champions Killyclogher also attended the school in recent years.

"Successful players like Mark have sat in the same classrooms as these young boys and provides excellent role models and great inspiration for pupils at Sacred Heart College," said teacher and team manager, Owen Devine. "He was actually in the school earlier in the year as guest speaker at our Key Stage 3 assembly."

Another connection with the Tyrone team came through full back Ronan McNamee, who has been involved in coaching this year's team alongside Mr Devine and Caolan Harvey from Castlederg. An Aghyaran teammate of Mr Devine, McNamee took training sessions with the boys, and his advice and expertise has helped the boys bring an Ulster title back to Kevlin Road school.

"We're very grateful to the support that the Tyrone County Board has given in providing us with access to their expertise coaches," said Mr Devine. "Ronan has been with this particularly team for the past few months, and it's been great for the boys to be able to learn from someone that they idolise."

Sacred Heart came through the group section of the competition undefeated, earning a draw with a physically stronger Loreto Coleraine side in the final game to progress through to the semi-final. There they took on favourites Abbey Vocational School from Donegal, who had overcome Dean Maguirc Carrickmore in a winner-takes-all match to qualify from their group.

Mr Devine recalls another tough encounter: "Even though we had played very well in the first half of the semi-final, we found ourselves three points down as the Abbey scored two goals late in the half to take a lead of 0-9 to 4-0.

"In the second half, we had to play up the hill and against the wind, but the boys weren't prepared to throw in the towel, and with a very strong finish we won out on a 3-11 to 4-1 score line."

And so came the final at a sunny Michael Coney Park in Ardboe on Friday, May 5, where De La Salle were the opponents. The Sacred Heart lads didn't let nerves get the better of them though as they blitzed the Belfast boys early on to build up a 5-08 to 0-03 lead at half time. Although De La Salle got a goal at the start of the second half, they would fail to score for the remainder of the match, and Omagh ran out comprehensive 7-15 to 1-03 winners to spark historic scenes of joy. Team captain Ciaran McArdle proudly hoisted the Faul Cup, and the boys were given a heroes' welcome back at the school.

Mr Devine particularly noted the level of support from the school's new principal, Miss Sinead McAllister. "Miss McAllister is from South Derry, which has always been a hotbed for GAA down through the years. She recognises the benefits that Gaelic games brings to our young people and she has been very supportive to me and the boys throughout this campaign."

What is also important is the work of the local clubs in coaching and developing the young players. Nine clubs in total from across west Tyrone are represented in the Scared Heart panel.

With two Ulster titles within several weeks of each other now sitting proudly in the school's foyer, the future is very bright for Gaelic football in Sacred Heart College.

Panel: Conor Kelly, Aidan McSorley, Tiarnan Cox, Tirynn Mullan, Tiarnan Campbell, Cathair Conway, Shane McKenna, Finnucane Glackin, Pearse Goan, Matthew Hayes, Steven Drumm, Ciaran McArdle (captain), Fionnan Patterson, Tadg Cunningham, Oisin Campbell, Ben McLaughlin, Jack Gallagher, Oisin Quinn, Mark Bradley, Shane Breen, Shane McCaul, Enda Donnelly, Jacky Shi, Ryan Simmonds, Cathair Connolly, Darragh Arkinson, AJ Moore.

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