It may come as a surprise to some, but famed Longford college St Mel's is the most decorated football school in Leinster. It may be over a decade since the school last won the senior provincial title in 2003, but no other college even comes close on the roll of honour.
Since its first Leinster success in 1928, St Mel's has won 29 championships, and added four Hogan Cups too. Included in the 29 titles are a six-in-a-row (1933-38) and another four four-in-a-rows (1940-43, 1945-48, 1961-64, 1987-90). Next year, the college will celebrate its 150th anniversary and a host of events have been organised to mark this special achievement. Naturally, given the school's rich football history, some of those events will be centred around sporting themes and so it was fitting that some past pupils, including some Leinster and All-Ireland medal winners, gathered in Croke Park yesterday to launch the celebrations.
The history of the college is closely linked with the nearby St Mel's Cathedral, which was destroyed by fire on Christmas Day 2009 and which is being painstakingly rebuilt. As you approach Longford town from the east, these two historic buildings dominate the landscape, symbols of the spirit of a defiant people dating back to post-famine times.
The year of celebration will kick-off on December 31 with a gala New Year's Eve Ball in the college grounds and the school is reaching out to all past pupils to connect with the school during the celebrations.
Sunday Indo Sport