On October 23rd, our Senior Football Players had an experience they'll likely never forget as they took to the hallowed turf of Croke Park to contest the Corn O Donnachu Cup final for the first time in the school's history. Our opponents on the day were the formidable and experienced team of Holy Family , Rathcoole and though the match was keenly contested and our players played with great skill, determination and fighting spirit, unfortunately the Holy Family boys proved to be too strong in the end ,emerging victorious in a 6-11 to 4-14 score-line. However, we are very proud of how our players represented the school on the day and each and every one of them deserves credit for their endeavours both in the final and over the course of the school year.
Szymon, our goalkeeper, has been one of our best players all year and he will be particularly remembered for his heroic performance against St. Ciaran's in the quarter final where he made a series of stunning saves that kept us alive when the match was in the balance. Without those crucial saves, there would have been no day out in Croke Park in the first place, as we are sure Szymon's teammates would attest to.
Jayden , at corner back, has been steady and reliable all year and commanded his territory with great authority while Helen, in the other corner, became more dominant as the match went on and was responsible for a number of crucial turnovers in the second half. Reece at full back, has been an absolute warrior in our defense for the past three years and ultimately encapsulates the overall fighting spirit of the team. He produced a typically battling and tenacious display punctuated by last ditch blocks and inspirational clearances!
In the half back line , Jack Rothwell performed with a confident swagger and earned a whole new legion of fans as a result of his fearless , direct style of play while a fired-up Brandon saved his best performance of the year for the final. It is also hard to believe that Daragh O' Looney has only played Gaelic Football for approximately three months of his life. But Daragh is a natural athlete and a quick learner and produced a composed, committed and commanding display at centre back which defied his lack of Gaelic Footballing experience.
In the half forward line, Evan, who has bags of talent, was reliable and economical in possession while Cathal was as industrious as ever, tirelessly making himself available for passes and providing a crucial outlet for our midfielders as they sought to mount attacks on the Rathcoole defence. Ben once again demonstrated how much he relishes the big stage (like he did in the shield final in 2016). He lead the line of attack with great vigour and was one of our best winners of primary possession as well as being one of our best ball carriers.
In the full forward line, Reece, has been one of our most improved players this year while Eoin remained a constant threat to the Rathcoole defence throughout the match (and indeed was unlucky not to register a goal on the scoreboard as his rasper of a shot from his trusty left foot crashed off the underside of the crossbar). Kester is a player of great athleticism and potential and produced a spirited display in the final. He will be a key player for us in the coming years.
Our subs also deserve a lot of credit! Daniel Odelsanya and Daniel Toolin have both made substantial contributions to the team this year while Steven is another tenacious tackler. Cian and Darragh have both shown great potential this year and will be very important players for us next year while Maria also provided the Rathcoole defence with a difficult challenge when she came on in the second half.
Jack Dixon (who is also the South Dublin 400m champion of 2017) has been a major contributor to the scoreboard for our team for a number of years now and despite the fact that he had only just been recovering from an illness , he still managed to bag a vital two goals and one point in the final, the second goal being a very brave dive to palm in Jack McCabe's fist pass before the goalkeeper could reach the ball. Jack is a steely competitor, an outstanding athlete and will no doubt achieve great success in the sport in the future.
Jack McCabe's performance was simply a masterclass that will live long in the memory of any Gaelic Football fan who was privileged enough to witness it. It was rightly praised by Niall Scully from the Herald newspaper as one of the greatest performances that has been seen in Croke Park in many a day! How he managed to manufacture space while surrounded by four defenders to rifle a rocket of a shot in the right corner of the Rathcoole net to score his second goal of a whopping total tally of 2-13 still boggles the mind! And despite the fact that Jack has a sublime mastery of every Gaelic football skill in the book (his high fielding over much taller players in Croke Park was especially breath-taking), there is one trait that he possesses in abundance that the Sruleen coaching team is particularly qualified to affirm : character! Jack is a very grounded boy and understands the work ethic required to achieve excellence in his sport. Due to the fact that there is literally no other way to stop him, he has to endure relentless bouts of fouling and rough play in almost every match he plays and he never retaliates or drops his head. If he continues to love the sport as much as he does now, the sky is the limit as to what he can achieve.
Mr. Cannon, Mr. Doherty and Mr.Stevenson would like to thank the players for their tremendous commitment throughout the year. Many of the players will be leaving us at the end of the school year but they will not be forgotten as they have provided us with great excitement over the years and have achieved more than any other group of Gaelic footballers have in the school's history - having delivered us a shield title in 2016, having finished joint top of the Go-Games league in 2017 and having become the first Gaelic Football team in the school's history to reach a cup final! We may have lost the final but we are very proud of how the players played and conducted themselves and whatever sadness we felt after the match was not due to the actual result but due to the realization that we will no longer have the privilege of working with and watching these great young players represent the school with such great integrity, determination and skill. We would also like to thank all the parents and grandparents who have been particularly loyal and generous in their support of this particular group. Your encouragement of the children has been much appreciated!
We would like to congratulate Holy Family , Rathcoole for their well deserved victory. They were a bigger , stronger group of players than us with many club players and perhaps their experience showed in the end. They also played with great spirit and no little skill and we look forward to future encounters with them on the football field in the coming years.
Lastly, we hope that younger children from the school will feel inspired by the team's achievements this year and might feel compelled to join the Round Towers GAA club. We will also continue to provide training sessions for the Second and Third Class (a group of players that we recognize have brilliant potential) as we seek to instill a love for the game in the children and develop the talent for future school teams in the coming years.
Written by Mr. Doherty