Council Chair hosts reception for McCormack Cup winners from St Aidan’s High School, Derrylin

16th February 2024

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Recently the Chair of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, Councillor Thomas O’Reilly, hosted a reception for the Ulster Schools GAA McCormack Cup winners from St Aidan’s High School, Derrylin.

The following is the speech which was delivered by the Chair at the reception:

Fellow Councillors, ladies and gentlemen

As Chair of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, I am delighted to welcome you all here to The Townhall, Enniskillen today for this reception in honour of the McCormack Cup 2023-2024 Champions from St Aidan’s High School, Derrylin.

I understand that your journey in the McCormack Cup tournament started in September 2023 with a match against St Catherine’s Vocational School, Killybegs.  Despite tough weather conditions with the wind, you emerged convincing winners with a scoreline of 3-0 to 1-12.

The next match saw you take on De La Salle College, Belfast and, despite going 5 points down in the first half, you showed determination and skill to emerge with another convincing win of 6-11 to 4-05.

This win earned you a place in the quarter finals where your opponents were Scoil Mhuire, Buncrana.  The team continued to show dominance in the Cup winning 5-08 to 3-06.

The semi final was a derby match against close neighbours St Kevin’s College, Lisnaskea.  At half time, I believe St Kevin’s College led 3-03 to 1-05, however, in the second half you increased the intensity showing great determination and you brought the score back to a one-point difference.  This was a close end to end match, however, you emerged the winners earning a well-deserved place in the final.

The final was played on 12 January 2024 against Coláiste Feirste, Belfast.  You were winning 0-06 to 0-0 at half time.  In the second half, your opponents fought back and, despite a nervous finish to the match for the spectators, you kept your cool, showed great desire to win and you emerged victorious.

The school recently celebrated its 50th anniversary and, during this time, it had never won a provincial football title.  Therefore, 12 January 2024 will be a date etched in the memories of the team and everyone involved, and you have a unique place in the school history book.

I understand that another special aspect to your win was the wealth of cross community support in the local area and from schools in Fermanagh.  I know this was really appreciated by the team and it demonstrates the level of community spirit we are fortunate to have in our District.

Being involved and competing in a sport is good for your physical and mental health and to enhance your skills with the ambition to play for your County.  However, it also teaches you valuable life skills including being a team player, listening, determination, desire to succeed and resilience.  These are all qualities you have shown in abundance during this tournament and they will serve you well as you continue in sport, school, further education and work.

Fermanagh and Omagh District Council is committed to ensuring that our people are healthy and well, physically, mentally and emotionally and being involved in sport and playing in a team helps to achieve this.

I would like to commend your coach, Mr O’Callaghan, along with Mr McTeggart, Mr Corrigan, Mr Bradley and Mr Beattie for sharing their knowledge and skills with you and giving you the opportunity to play football and compete at a provincial level.  I would also like to mention Ms Crudden who is responsible for First Aid and ensuring you are all match fit and recover from any injuries.

On behalf of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, and on my own behalf, I would like to congratulate each and every player in the team on your success and your commitment to training alongside your school work and other interests.  You have done yourselves, your family and friends, your County and your District proud.  I am confident that we will see many of your names on the County team sheet in the years ahead.

In closing, I would like to wish you and St Aidan’s High School every success for the future.

Thank you.