Redemption for St Ronan’s Lurgan ladies

By Niall Gartland

THE ladies of St Ronan’s, Lurgan claimed All-Ireland honours at ‘B’ level last weekend with a 3-7 to 0-10 victory over Galway-based Presentation College, a momentous achievement particularly after the events of last year.

Many of the same girls were involved last season as they fell short on All-Ireland final day, but they kept faith in their own capabilities and returned to the big stage to crown their school career with national honours.

Two early goals helped the St Ronan’s ladies get a foothold in the game and they controlled the rest of the contest. Aoibhin Donoghue, scorer of their first goal, was awarded the Player of the Match award for her display, while receiving the trophy on behalf of her school was midfielder and captain Evie McCafferty.

Managing the side is Niamh McDaid, who was delighted with their performance on the day, and she believes they could’ve won by even more if the weather conditions had been more forgiving.

The Clann Éireann clubwoman said: “The conditions were really poor and the pitch was in bad nick, it was very wet and muddy. Had the conditions been better, we could’ve stretched out our lead a bit further, but the girls were brilliant and kept playing at their maximum right until the final whistle.”

St Ronan’s is still a relatively new school having been constituted in September 2015 when the three single-sex schools in Lurgan combined. They claimed a remarkable MacRory and Hogan Cup double in 2017/18 and now they can boast an All-Ireland-winning team on the ladies front.

McDaid said: “The boys won the Hogan Cup in 2018, it seems like only yesterday. I started at the school later that year. This is the first time the girls have won an All-Ireland, so it’s great to see and they’re such a brilliant group of girls, they really deserved it.”

Clann Éireann ladies won a historic provincial title last year at senior level, and the club is in rude health at underage level. They provided roughly two-thirds of the St Ronan’s panel, while there was also representation from the Clan na Gael, Wolfe Tones, Aghagallon and St Peter’s clubs.

They gelled magnificently in a historic triumph for the school, and for many of the girls, they’ll finisd off their school days in the coming months knowing that they are deserved All-Ireland champions.

McDaid said: “I suppose we’re now getting into the nitty gritty time of the year with exams. We’d mocks the week before the final so they weren’t actually on timetable, and that was probably a good thing in a way. They were coming and going for their exams so they weren’t being asked a million questions about the final in class, and that probably kept them calm leading into the game.”

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