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Raffo Cup glory for Holy Child Primary School   22/04/2019


Holy Child Primary School  ended their long wait for the Allianz sponsored Raffo Cup when the boys got to bring the prestigious trophy back home to their Andersonstown school.


The boys had a great start to the Gaelic campaign, back in October, when they reached the League Final. On a day of atrocious weather, and gale force winds, the boys were second best to a strong St Brides team, however the heartache of the league loss spurred the boys on for the remainder of the season, and in particular a clear focus on the Raffo Cup.


The Raffo Cup campaign started with a difficult group stage against St John the Baptist PS and St Michael’s PS , two great teams. The boys did not take any of these teams for granted and needed to dig deep to defeat St John the Baptist by a solitary point. The St Michael’s game was slightly more comfortable with scores from the whole squad, special mention to Anthony Hanna, Thomas Donnelly, Sean Duggan and Brody Branniff, who all contributed valuable scores on this day.


For the semi-final we were drawn to play against an in-form Christ the Redeemer team. The first half was tit-for-tat, with our defence under relentless pressure. James McDonnell, our full forward ran tirelessly creating space for Aodhán Peirce, Matthew Murray, Paul Austin and Fionn Collins to score the points to take us into the final.


The boys had to thank Kiernan McKenna who, not for the first time this year, made wonderful and crucial saves, especially in the second half, to keep us ahead in the game.


The final was a day the boys had been looking forward to since the league final heartache and as luck would have it our opponents were St Brides (again), a chance for redemption.


The wind was strong but apart from that the conditions were perfect for gaelic football at Colaiste Feirste’s school pitches, a fantastic venue!


The school brought close to 40 supporters from P7, and the noise and encouragement from the stands helped massively. St Bride’s played with the wind in the first half and started the game strongly. Holy Child played on the counterattack and got the first score of the game, against the run of play, a goal from Matthew Murray.


St Brides then took control hitting 5 unanswered points. Once again we had our goalkeeper Kiernan McKenna to thank for keeping the score down making some great saves and interceptions. Cormac Trainer and Brendan McMorrow were outstanding in defence, restricting a classy St Brides forward line to long distant shooting. The boys came in at half time trailing by 3 points.


During the interval we spoke of confidence on the ball, bravery and how the wind could benefit us now in the second half. The boys came out full of confidence and took the game straight to St Brides from the off. Aaron Anderson (captain) and Paul Austin began to control the game, spreading the ball into our classy half forward line of Matthew Murray and Aodhán Peirce, who ran the St Brides defence ragged.


The 3 points deficit very quickly turned to a 5 point lead, all within the first 6 minutes of the second half. A wonderful goal and a few points from Matthew Murray and a penalty conversion from Aaron Anderson gave us a comfortable lead. James McDonnell and Brody Branniff put themselves about well in the full forward line and contributed crucial scores. Odhrán McAuley, in midfield, did the dirty work of covering runs, breaking up play and unsettling the St Brides midfielders, leaving Aaron and Paul to control the game with their running and passing ability.


An early substitution needed to be made, as Thomas Donnelly was injured, and Jack McGinn, a natural forward, filled in at halfback for the team. Jack put his team first a played wonderfully in defence. St Brides did have their chances in the second half but good fortune was also on our side with two goal line clearances from Aaron and Cormac. With a few minutes to go and a 9-point lead, Fionn Collins, Finn Thompson and Sean Duggan came on and all had great opportunities to extend our lead further. The boys ran out winners in the end with the whole squad contributing to the historic victory.


Sometimes fate can play a major part in sporting finals and as a school, Holy Child were given a great lift the week leading up to the final. Our Principal, Mr Short, received a letter from a man named Phil Stuart, an ex-captain of a Derry All-Ireland team who defeated Kerry in the semi-final, in 1958, and were narrowly beaten by Dublin in the final. As a young man, Phil went on to teach at Holy Child and helped manage the team in the first ever Raffo Cup competition back in the early 1960s, a cup which Holy Child actually won that year, the first ever winners of the tournament! In his letter Phil wished the boys the very best.


Another omen for the boys was that the final was due to take place the day before Pat Trainor’s anniversary. Pat was an ex-teacher at Holy Child school and a man held in the highest regard by everyone here at the school and the wider community. Pat did so much for Gaelic games here at Holy Child, especially hurling, so much so that every year the Pat Trainor award is given to a child, from the school, who excels at Gaelic games. Every year Pat’s wife, sons and daughters come to the school to present the award at our leaver’s assembly. So it seemed fitting that, on the great man’s anniversary, the school ended their barren run in the competition.

Sometimes your name is just on the cup. Luck, fate, call it what you will. One thing is for sure Holy Child Primary School  are the Raffo Cup Champions for 2019!





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