Chair hosts reception to honour Erne Integrated Girls Rugby team

17th May 2022

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The Chair of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, Councillor Errol Thompson recently hosted a reception in the Townhall, Enniskillen to mark the success of Erne Integrated Girls Rugby team, winners of the Ulster Girls Rugby Schools Cup. See below, text of his address at the event.

Distinguished guests, Ladies and gentlemen

As Chair of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, I am delighted to welcome you all here this afternoon to the Council Offices in The Townhall, Enniskillen to this reception to recognise the success of Erne Integrated College in the Ulster Girls Rugby Schools Cup.

I understand that your participation in the Ulster Girls Schools Cup started with qualifiers against Enniskillen Royal Grammar School, Foyle College and Belfast High School and your success in these early stages gained you a place in the semi-final.

Your semi-final match was against Royal School Armagh and you emerged as the winners earning a well-deserved place in the final.

The final took place at the Kingspan Stadium in Belfast on 22 March 2022 where you faced your friends and neighbours, Enniskillen Royal Grammar School.

The Team took an early lead through Co-Captains and Under 18 Ulster Players Moya Hill and Sophie Barrett and Kelly Quinn, however, a late score from Enniskillen Royal’s Sophie Moore kept the match neck and neck at the end of the first quarter.

Following a team talk you emerged for the second quarter and your determination saw you continue to score with a strong effort by Molly Quinn, however, in the third quarter Enniskillen Royal continued to press forward with a try from Niamh Johnston, followed by a long range effort from Zara Hutchinson resulting in a nerve-wrecking fourth quarter with all to play for.

Enniskillen Royal scored through their Captain Scarlett Keys to level the match at 8-8 towards the end of the quarter, however, in a dramatic twist, your determination and team spirit together with the experience of Sophie Barrett provided the inspiration and momentum to see you crowned Champions following a winning try by Hope Milligan in the last play of the match.

I understand that the core of this team won the Junior Under 15 Ulster Schools title and All Ireland Plate in the 2018-2019 season and you were narrowly defeated by Enniskillen Royal in the 2019-2020 Ulster Girls Schools Cup.

This level of success is testament to each of you as individuals and the commitment and dedication you have given to the team which has been invaluable.  As well as your individual contributions, you have also demonstrated your ability to work as part of a team and this team spirit was key to your success this year as you all worked effectively together until the final whistle.

Women’s rugby has really taken off and I am delighted that two schools in our district have shown the appetite, skill and capacity to fight it out for the title on the biggest stage. An indication of how far the sport has come, was the final TikTok 6 nations game between Ireland and Scotland played in front of a large and raucous crowd at Kingspan recently. The sheer courage, guts, skill and will to win displayed by the home team left me full of admiration for the quality and commitment of the teams. Qualities that you, the players of Erne Integrated College, have in abundance. I hope that in the years to come, some of you will go on to play international rugby at the highest level.

Former Ireland Rugby International, Brian O’Driscoll once said “Practice things you are good at, keep on top of things you’re not so good at, but be world class at your best”.

As individuals and a team, you have shown your commitment and willingness to practice and work hard to develop the skills to be the best at rugby and I commend you for this.  These are invaluable attributes which can be easily transferred to your academic studies and, in the future, the workplace.

In sport, school, college and work, I would encourage you to continue to practice and work hard so you can pursue your individual goals and dreams and be the best that you can be.

On behalf of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, I would like to congratulate you on your success, you have done your school, your families and your District proud and I wish you every success for the future.