In the week that Giovanni Tappatoni selected his 23 players for the European Championships, one could be safe in the knowledge that the future of Irish soccer is safe following the football feast served up to spectators over two days in Newhill Park, Two Mile Borris on Wednesday and Thursday, May 2nd and 3rd.
It was a gathering of the best young players from all over Tipperary to compete for the coveted title of F.A.I Primary Schools County Champions 2012.
St. Colmcille’s were hoping to go one better in the competition this year having reached the final in 2011. Hopes were high in the school and interest in representing the school was huge as over 30 players turned up for trials hoping to secure one of the 8 squad places available. After an extremely high standard of skill and athleticism on St Colmcille’s school field Mr. Doyle put pen to paper and made the tough calls needed to choose the eight to represent the school. The lucky octet were Ruairí Mockler, Andrew Ormond, Shane Doyle, Paddy Cadell, Éanna McBride, Ciarán Byrne, Michael Fogarty and squad captain, Stephen Carroll.
Having checked in with organisers on Wednesday morning the team was directed towards pitch number 2 which would be our base for the day with the prospect of games against Gaelscoil Cluain Meala (B), Corville N.S Roscrea, and Sacred Heart Roscrea (B). Knowing that only group winners would progress to the next stage the team knew a swift start was necessary if we were to make an impression in this competition. And that’s exactly what we got as St. Colmcille’s defeated Gaelscoil Cluain Meala by 15 goals to nil in the first game. Game 2 wasn’t so comfortable and a superb performance by goalkeeper Ruairi Mockler was needed to see off a spirited Corville side on a scoreline of 2-1. This meant that if we avoided defeat against Sacred Heart in our final game of the day we would top the group and return the following day as group winners. This was duly achieved with a 7-0 victory with Éanna McBride and Shane Doyle putting in excellent performances.
Thursday morning quickly came and we retraced our steps to Newhill Park where we would be one of the 9 schools competing for the top prize. We were placed in a very difficult group alongside Gaelscoil Cluain Meala (A) and St. Michael’s Holycross. It was a case of déjà vu as we once again saw off opposition from Gaelscoil Cluain Meala in our opening game on a scoreline of 6-2. St. Colmcille’s showed great heart after falling behind early on in this game to come back and win emphatically. Having played extremely well to give ourselves a 4-1 half time lead against Holycross with goals from Michael Fogarty and Andrew Ormond the team’s concentration levels dropped somewhat and we eventually drew 4-4. Thankfully this was enough to be declared group winners with a semi final to follow in the afternoon.
The semi final draw pitted St. Colmcille’s against home side Two Mile Borris and it was ‘hearts in mouths’ stuff as this game swayed dramatically from end to end. A volley from 20 yards by Paddy Cadell opened the scoring but Two Mile Borris responded immediately and at half time the sides were deadlocked at 1-1. St. Colmcille’s got a couple of lucky breaks in the second half and goals from Eanna McBride and a second from Paddy Cadell gave St. Colmcille’s a 3-1 lead. Tigerish defending from Ciarán Byrne and Andrew Ormond ensured that this lead would not be squandered and a final against the winners of Powerstown N.S and Sacred Heart Roscrea lay in store.
Powerstown emerged as our opponents and having played 6 tough games over the two days we knew this would be the toughest game of all and everyone in attendance was treated to a fantastic final.
At half time the sides could not be separated with both defences coming out on top. It looked like history was going to repeat itself when Powerstown made the breakthrough with 5 minutes remaining. Were the Templemore boys once again going to be silver medallists? This group of players with their ‘never give up’ attitude mustered up another effort to draw level almost immediately with a fine individual strike from top scorer Éanna McBride. Momentum was now with St. Colmcille’s as they pushed for the winner and their efforts were rewarded when Paddy Cadell bundled the ball over the line from close range to give the Mid Tipp Men a deserved 2-1 lead. The final whistle soon followed and was greeted with jubilant celebrations from St. Colmcille’s players, management and supporters. Stephen Carroll as captain took the cheers from all in attendance and he proudly announced his squad as each player came forward to receive a trophy for their efforts. St. Colmcille’s will now represent Tipperary in the Munster 5 a side tournament which takes place in Tralee on May 16th.