June 6th, 2024


Richard Bullick

They had to wait 12 long months to make amends for defeat in the corresponding game last spring but St Ronan’s College Under 16s were signing in the rain in Cavan after a deserved 3-7 to 0-10 victory over Presentation College Headford in Saturday’s All Ireland B final.

The awful weather meant atrocious conditions in Mullahoran but the Lurgan girls got off to the perfect start with early goals from joint captains Aoibhin Donohue and Evie McCafferty while fellow big guns Cassie Henderson and Aoife McDonald each chipped in with a point.

That put Niamh McDaid’s team eight up inside the first seven minutes, laying the foundations for a six-point win against Galway opponents who didn’t let their heads drop but fought hard throughout in the relentless rain.

Donohue, who had hit a hat-trick for St Ronan’s in last year’s All Ireland Junior B final, was the youngest player in the Clann Eireann senior side which made history by being crowned Ulster champions last autumn and few will forget her stunning goal against Moneyglass.

She hit the net for St Ronan’s at the weekend with just three minutes gone after another brilliant run, Henderson pointed from a tight angle, McCafferty raised a green flag following Anna Lavery’s strong surge and McDonald soon made it 2-2 to 0-0.

St Ronan’s didn’t score again for another 20 minutes but, unlike last year’s decider when they fell away after a promising start, the talented team in maroon jerseys remained in control throughout.

Presentation’s Alisha O’Malley scored a hat-trick of points in a four-minute purple patch late in the third quarter and Alison Fahy added another on 23 minutes but the multi-talented Henderson had the last word before the break to put St Ronan’s five ahead at half-time.

That gap was closed to just two as Emma Curran, O’Malley and skipper Katie Farragher all registered scores for Presentation College but European age group boxing champion Henderson stepped up to deliver a blow which left the Galway girls reeling.

Scorer of five goals in last year’s All Ireland B final when aged just 13 and Player of the Match in this January’s Ulster showpiece, Henderson unleashed an unstoppable shot to the Headford net to restore her side’s five-point cushion.

Lauren McAlinden pointed to put St Ronan’s two goals clear but scores from Farragher and Lily Jacques kept Presentation College still in the hunt with the game going into the final 10 minutes, though they were up against a team with an excellent full back in Mia O’Hara.

However, St Ronan’s weren’t to be denied for a second year running with Henderson, the current ABC Junior Sportswoman of the Year, raising a couple of white flags to take her tally to 1-4 and captain Donohue rounding off the scoring for her team.

Headford finished with one last point but the day belonged to St Ronan’s College and the rain couldn’t dampen the celebrations for the victorious players, coaches and supporters as Donohue collected the Player of the Match award before McCafferty received the trophy.

The school success rounded off a wonderful week for midfielder McCafferty, co-captain of the Northern Ireland Under 17 netball team which had won the Challenge section at the European Championships in Gibraltar the previous Sunday.

Many of this St Ronan’s team have enjoyed great success in club colours with Clann Eireann and their leading lights have also shone in age group county football, but winning silverware with their school has meant a lot to them.

ST RONAN’S COLLEGE: L Lennon; E McGavigan, M O’Hara, C French; E Conway, A Delaney, A Lavery; E McCafferty (1-0), O Campbell; LM McAreavey, A Donohue (1-1), A McDonald (0-1); C Henderson (1-4), C Magee, L McAlinden (0-1).  Sub used: C O’Hagan for Magee (34mins).

PRESENTATION COLLEGE: A Kenny; H Divilly, A Carey, S Devine; C Kerrigan, K Reynolds, E Whelan (0-1); E Curran (0-1), K O’Connor; L Jacques (0-1), A Fahy (0-1), A Curry; A O’Malley (0-4), R O’Brien, K Farragher (0-2).  Subs used: A O’Toole for Jacques (56), A Bohan for Fahy (57).

Referee: David Hurson (Monaghan)


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