GAA: Loreto goals win Rannafast Shield

Loreto Colleges victorious Danske Bank Ulster Schools Rannafast Shield team.
Loreto Colleges victorious Danske Bank Ulster Schools Rannafast Shield team.

There was triumph for the Loreto College Rannafast Cup team on Saturday 2nd December, as the team emerged winners of the Shield competition, with a final score against old rivals, Loreto Coleraine 5-8 St Paul’s Bessbrook 1-12.

In a fixture played at the Mid Ulster Sports Arena, Cookstown, four first half goals proved key to Loreto Coleraine collecting the Danske Bank Rannafast Shield at the expense of a tenacious St Paul’s Bessbrook side.

Dara Mooney, Ben Dillon, Eoin McKeever and Connor Mullan were all very prominent for Loreto while Luke Mallon, Shea Magill and sub Tiarnan Kelly did well for Bessbrook, but it was a match in which the Loreto half-backs were able to break with pace and open the south Armagh side’s defence for big scores, with only points in reply.

After Shea Magill had opened the scoring with a point for Bessbrook, Dara Mooney got on the end of a speculative shot from the wing from Donal O’Kane to flick home the opening goal for Coleraine and they were to add a second after 16 minutes when Conor Kearney’s effort at a point dipped under the bar.

Mooney scored goal No 3 in the 20th minute, collecting a free from Aidan Gillen and rounding his player to find the net and there was more trouble for Bessbrook three minutes from half-time. Paul Rafferty was on the end of a sweeping Loreto move involving Connor Mullan, Odhran McLarnon and Conor Kearney and smashed the ball low into the net for an interval advantage of 4-3 to St Paul’s 0-6.

Loreto continued to break with pace for the third quarter and stretched their advantage to 13 points with a 40th minute goal from Donal O’Kane who drove through from midfield. However they were only to add two more points as St Paul’s, lifted by the introduction of substitute Tiarnan Kelly mounted a spirited comeback. Kelly and another sub Sean Boylan hit two points each before Kelly got in for a consolation goal for Bessbrook near the end.

With a final score emphatically in Loreto’s advantage, the team (made up of Year 12 and Year 11 students) had its second chance in 2017 to celebrate winning silverware: this team won the Ulster Schools B division Treanor Cup in early April, securing promotion to the A division. Team coaches Mr Sean Murtagh and Mr Conrad Deighan were overjoyed by the team’s success, paying tribute to team members for their dedication in training and spirit in competition.

Mr Murtagh commented: "I am privileged to manage a fantastic group of lads. Triple Ulster title winners in 4 school seasons, who dared to do what no LCC team had done before them... Y9 C, Y11 B and now the Rannafast Shield in Y12 A."

The Loreto team members were: L Passmore, E Morrison, J Mullan, E McKeever, C Mullan, A Gillen, O McLarnon, D O’Kane 1-2, 0-1 free, C Calvert, C Kearney 1-0, D Mooney 2-1, B Dillon 0-4, 0-3 frees, P McGonigle, K Papachristopolous 0-1, P Rafferty 1-0.

Subs: M óg McKeown for C Kearney, N Moloney for C Calvert, C McCloskey for O McLarnon, C Kilmartin for P McGonigle, S Scullion for C Mullan.

Mr Michael James, Principal of Loreto College, paid tribute to the team members and their coaches, Mr Murtagh and Mr Deighan, on this tremendous success at such a high level. Clearly these players are ones to watch as they prepare to enter Senior football in the years ahead.