Teams battle for glory on a glorious day
GAA - Allianz Cumann na mBunscoil Finals
As the autumn drew to a close, the first set of the Allianz Cumann na mBunscol Lú finals were played out in glorious conditions in The Grove Field in Castlebellingham.
Five football finals were contested as boys and girls from various sized schools around the county attempted to etch themselves into their respective schools' histories.
First up were the boys' rural finals. With the girls of Bellurgan NS enjoying much success over the past few years, it was over to the boys this year as they battled through a tough qualifying group to deservedly reach the final of Sciath Uí Dhuinneachdha.
Standing in their way were the boys from Stabannon who have dominated their section for the last two years and are the current boys all-county 7s champions.
The first half was a tight affair with goals aplenty as the holders led narrowly going into the break. The winner of the game was in the balance until a flurry of goals from the Stabannon men mid-way through the second half broke the hearts of the Bellurgan side and reclaim their crown.
In the larger rural schools section, Tenure found themselves in the final against Dromiskin who had been knocking on the door of success in the past few years.
A nervy start from the Dromiskin side coupled with the boys from Monasterboice clinically taking the chances presented to them saw a two point lead being held by Tenure NS at the half.
With a stern interval team talk by their mentors, Dromiskin came out with fire in their bellies in the second half to make up for their spurned chances early in the game.
A magnificent tally of 2-4 in the second half was enough to secure the school's first Cumann na mBunscol title in over 30 years. It was particularly sweet for principal, Pat Mulligan, who saw his side claim silverware in his final tournament before retirement.
Three girls' finals took place after the boys of Stabannon and Dromiskin finished celebrating. Muchgrange NS were hoping to go one better than the finals of this summer as they faced off against Dillonstown NS.
A close first half saw the Cooley side just ahead but their experience on the big stage proved vital as they were just a little too strong for the girls from Togher who will take heart from their performance on the day and take their experience into competitions later in the year.
A ferociously contested game between Ballapousta and Kilcurry was played at the same time. Superb skill, physicality, determination and commitment was displayed in the best final of the day. Both sides gave it their all throughout with the side from Ballapousta prevailing with a gutsy second half display up the hill in the second half.
In the last game of the day, St. Malachy's girls faced reigning champions St. Mary's PPS. After a hard-fought semi-final win over Realt na Mara during the week, the girls from Dundalk were up against it from the off in this final. But to their absolute credit, the St. Malachy's girls fought tooth and nail and were rewarded with a goal and four points.
Unfortunately for them, the girls from Drogheda were just too strong as they claimed another piece of silverware which is just reward for the fine work being put in by the teachers in the school and the clubs involved.
Next week sees the last two football finals of the calendar year in Darver under lights as St Pauls of Drogheda take on St Olivers NS, Blackrock and the boys of St. Mary's PPS hope to emulate the girls as they face Monastery, Ardee.