2019 Foyle Shield Final
St. Mary’s College was a sea of blue on Monday morning as the school welcomed its history-making Under 16 GAA squad back with their first Ulster title after winning the Foyle Shield in Cookstown on Friday.
Mayor of Derry City and Strabane, Colr. John Boyle was among the guests and full of praise for the girls after their two point victory over a strong St. Colmcille’s (Crossgar).
In a thrilling final, the Northland Road school recovered from a three points half time deficit to ensure their place in the history books.
A guard of honour greeted the victorious team with praises from all quarters at the special assembly wihere Mayor Boyle congratulating the team before inviting the girls to a Civic Reception to be held in the coming weeks in the Guildhall.
Endorsing the sentiments of the many speakers, Principal, Marie Lindsay stalked of her pride at the team’s achievement.
“I am very proud to welcome the girls back to the school with this Ulster trophy,” said Mrs Lindsay, “The girls worked hard on the day to win but it was also their endeavour throughout the year in getting through to the final that was evident by the way they came back to win.”
In the game itself, first blood went to Crossgar before St. Mary’s levelled and then surged ahead with the game’s first goal thanks to a fine Erin Donald finish.
The Crossgar girls pulled back with a plethora of points to take the lead once more as St. Colmcille’s led by three points on a scoreline of 1-6 to 1-3 at the break.
The Derry side scored two quick points in the early minutes of the second half, reducing the deficit to the minimum but a Crossgar goal on 45 minutes gave them a 2-6 to 1-5 lead and looked a ‘game clincher’.
The goal might have finished lesser teams but the belief and fitness of the St. Mary’s girls shone through as they grabbed a second goal of their own to claw back the margin.
After drawing level in the closing minutes, St. Mary’s pointed twice to take the lead and held out despite constant pressure from the Crossgar side.
In a dramatic finale, it took a magnificent point blank save in the dying seconds from keeper, Sian Harris, to secure victory ensure the Foyle Shield would be making its maiden journey to Derry City.
Delighted PE teacher and team manager, Claire Bell, said she was extremely proud of the team and their magnificent achievement.
“All credit to the girls for their efforts throughout the year,” said Mrs Bell, “Winning on Friday was due to hard work and a self-belief by every player on the park. It’s wonderful for the school and the history they’ve made. A big thank you to my other coach, Declan Sweeney, as well. He played a major part in this success.
“I hope this is something to build on for the future and I believe it will improve in an uptake of students participating in GAA and other sports at the college.
“I would like to extend a big ‘thank you’ to the other coaches for their sterling efforts because this was a real team effort. Everyone in the school came on board and supported us.”
The Special Assembly held at the school yesterday morning saw a full turnout of students, teachers and Board of Governors as well as the Mayor and representatives from the many GAA clubs in the city that the students represent.