It was a night of celebration and nostalgia at the 50th Anniversary celebrations of the Ulster Vocational Schools in the Glenavon House Hotel, Cookstown, on Thursday last.
There to celebrate their successes in winning or reaching the finals of the Provincial competitions in Football and Hurling, the young schoolboys and their teachers were rubbing shoulders with a virtual who’s who of Ulster’s finest footballers. This year, to celebrate their fiftieth year and their name change to Ulster Post Primary schools, an invite was sent out to the fifty-five players who had played their football and hurling in the Vocational Schools sector and who had been recognised by the National All Stars Committee as well as two other players who had been selected as ‘Young Players of the Year’.
In welcoming the All Stars and the schools, Chairman, Hugo Clerkin paid tribute to these stars of the past for all that they had done to inspire the pupils, not only in their own schools and beyond by their displays over their playing careers and stated that he was delighted that this contribution could be recognised.
He congratulated the teachers and the pupils for their success in winning the coveted titles and reaching the provincial deciders.
This was re-echoed by Secretary, Jimmy Smyth, who complimented the schools for their discipline as only one red card was awarded throughout all the competitions, and paid tribute to the schools of Donegal, who collected six awards at the Ulster Bank sponsored event.
Their county team collected the title for the fifteenth time, Colaiste na Carraige won their first Ulster Bank Markey title since 1985, PCC Falcarragh won the Ulster Bank Arthurs Cup for the first time, while the newly constituted Ulster Bank Corn Cuchulainn and Ulster Bank Corn MacNeasa were won by Magh Ene College, Bundoran and Crana College, Buncrana respectively. Only St Paul’s, Lurgan, who retained the Ulster Bank McDevitt Cup and the amalgamation of St Mary’s College, Irvinestown and St John’s, Dromore, under the title of Rural Academy, who collected the Ulster Bank Ward Cup for the first time, prevented them from a clean sweep.
However, in Hurling, Scoil Mhuire, Buncrana collected the Ulster Bank Corn Eamhain Mhacha for the first time, with St Malachy’s Castlewellan retaining their Ulster Bank Sciath Eamhain Mhacha title. St Colm’s, Draperstown won their second Ulster Bank Corn Setanta award and maintained their grip on the Ulster Bank Sciath Lamh Dearg for Year 8 pupils as they won it for the fourth year in a row. Dean Mac Guirc College, Carrickmore showed their strength as a dual playing school by winning the Ulster Bank Sciath Setanta for the third time.
Both Martin McAviney, Uachtarain Comhairle Uladh and Jerome Conway, Chairman of All Ireland Schools expressed their delight at being present on such an occasion and paid tribute to the work done in the schools by the teachers and the way that the pupils had responded to it. Mr McAviney pointed out the debt that the counties in Ulster owed to the schools for ensuring a steady stream of players who were ready to take their place in the county’s colours and that the success of these counties at provincial and national level had been backboned by players from the Vocational Schools. This was clearly demonstrated by the calibre of the All Stars who had gathered for the event.
Jerome Conway added that he hoped that this emphasis on Gaelic Games would continue under the new name of Ulster Post Primary Schools and that they would maintain the high standards instilled in them by those who had founded the Ulster Vocational Schools organisation fifty years previous.
Following a special presentation to all the former All Stars who were in attendance the final word and the biggest round of applause of the night was quite rightly given to Derry’s Tony Scullion, a four times All Star winner. He paid tribute to his teacher, Mr Seamus Kelly from his Ballinascreen school who had set him on the road in Gaelic Games and how delighted he was to see that this was being continued by Ciaran Meenagh and his staff in the school today. He encouraged the pupils present to listen to their teachers and put into practice what they learnt with them, but pointed out that success would only come about if they showed a passion for the game and its skills!
AWARD WINNERS from 2014
Ulster Bank Inter-County Cup:
Donegal (Winners) ,Cavan (Runners-up)
Ulster Bank Markey Cup (U-18):
Colaiste na Carraige (Winners) ,Virginia College, Cavan (Runners-up)
Ulster Bank Ward Cup (U-18 ‘B’):
Rural College (Winners) Magherafelt NRC (Runners-up)
Ulster Bank Arthurs Cup (U-16):
PCC, Falcarragh (Winners), St. Mark’s, Warrenpoint (Runners-up)
Ulster Bank Corn Cuchulainn (U-16 ‘B’):
Magh Ene College, Bundoran (Winners), Largy College, Clones (Runners-up)
Ulster Bank McDevitt Cup (U-14):
St. Paul’s, Lurgan (Winners), Breifne College, Cavan (Runners-up)
Ulster Bank Corn Mac Neasa (U-14 ‘B’):
Crana College, Buncrana (Winners) St. Clare’s, Ballyjamesduff (Runners-up)
Ulster Bank Corn Eamhain Mhacha (U-16 ‘A’):
Scoil Mhuire, Buncrana (Winners),Our Lady of Lourdes, Ballymoney (Runners-up) Ulster Bank Sciath Eamhain Mhacha (U-16 ‘B’):
St. Malachy’s, Castlewellan (Winners), St. Mary’s, Clady (Runners-up)
Ulster Bank Corn Setanta (U-14 ‘A’):
St. Colm’s, Draperstown (Winners), St. Paul’s, Kilrea (Runners-up)
Ulster Bank Sciath Setanta (U-14 ‘B’):
Dean MacGuire College, Carrickmore (Winners), St. Malachy’s, Castlewellan (Runners-up)
Ulster Bank Sciath Lamh Dhearg (Year 8 Blitz):
St. Colm’s, Draperstown (Winners), St. Patrick’s, Dungannon (Runners-up)
ALL-STARS from ULSTER VOCATIONAL SCHOOLS
Terence McNaughton, (St Aloysius, Cushendall)
Francie Bellew (St Joseph’s, Crossmaglen), Ronan Clarke (St Brigid’s, Armagh), Andy Mallon (St Brigid’s, Armagh), Colm McKinstry, (St Paul’s, Lurgan), Stevie McDonnell, (St Paul’s, Bessbrook),
Young Player of the Year 2002 - Aaron Kernan (St Joseph’s, Crossmaglen),
Gary Coleman (St Pius X, Magherafelt), Gerry McElhinney (St Brigid’s & St Patrick’s, Claudy), Brian McGilligan (St Patrick’s, Dungiven), Kieran McKeever (St Patrick’s, Dungiven), Tony Scullion (St Colm’s , Draperstown).
Paul Durcan (Abbey Vocational School, Donegal), Karl Lacey (Abbey Vocational School, Donegal), Donal Monaghan (Abbey Vocational School, Donegal), Joyce McMullan (Abbey Vocational School, Donegal), John Joe Doherty (Colaiste na Carraige), James McHugh (Colaiste na Carraige), Mark McHugh, (Colaiste na Carraige), Martin McHugh (Colaiste na Carraige), Martin Gavigan (Glenties Community School), Anthony Molloy (Glenties Community School), Tony Boyle (Rosses Community School), Adrian Sweeney (Rosses Community School), Kevin Cassidy (PCC Falcarragh), Neil McGee (PCC Falcarragh), Frank McGlynn (St Columba’s, Stranorlar).
Young Player of the Year 2014 Ryan McHugh (Colaiste na Carraige)
Ross Carr (Newry SRC), Benny Coulter (St Mark’s, Warrenpoint), Conor Deegan (De La Salle, Downpatrick), Paul Higgins (St Columban’s, Kilkeel), Paddy Kennedy (St Joseph’s, Newry), Mickey Linden (St Mark’s, Warrenpoint), Michael Magill (St Mark’s, Warrenpoint), Colm McAlarney (St Malachy’s , Castlewellan), Greg McCartan (St Columban’s , Kilkeel), Gerard McGrattan (St Columba’s, Portaferry), Brendan McVeigh (St Columban’s , Kilkeel).
Martin McGrath (St Joseph’s, Enniskillen), Barry Owens (St Aidan’s, Derrylin)
Thomas Freeman (Inver College Carrickmacross), Eugene Hughes (Castleblayney College), Paddy Linden (Ballybay Community College), Conor McManus (Beech Hill College, Monaghan), Colm Walsh (Castleblayney College)
Peter Canavan (St Ciaran’s, Ballygawley), Plunkett Donaghy (St. Patrick’s, Dungannon), Fay Devlin (St Pius X, Magherafelt), Conor Gormley (Dean Mac Guirc, Carrickmore), John Lynch (St Eugene’s, Castlederg), Enda McGinley (St Ciaran’s, Ballygawley), Owen Mulligan (Holy Trinity College, Cookstown), Finbar McConnell (St Joseph’s, Plumbridge), Ryan McMenamin (St John’s, Dromore), Damian O’Hagan (St Joseph’s, Coalisland), Stephen O’Neill (St Joseph’s, Plumbridge).
It is also very interesting to note that no fewer than SIX of these players were selected as ‘Footballer of the Year’: Martin McHugh - 1992, Mickey Linden - 1994, Peter Canavan – 1995, Stevie McDonnell – 2003, Stephen O’Neill – 2005 and Karl Lacey – 2012. As well as winning his All-Star award in 2002, Ronan Clarke was also chosen as ‘Young Player of the Year’ while back in 1968, Colm McAlarney, at 19 years of age, was selected as RTE’s ‘Man of the Match’ following his performance against the great Mick O’Connell of Kerry in that year’s All-Ireland Final.