The Royal and Prior Comprehensive School Raphoe were represented at the All Ireland Schools’ Badminton finals by four of their teams on the 19th March in Gormanston, Co. Meath.
PE Teacher KathyAnn Gibson at the Royal and Prior says: “We are very excited to have tasted success on the All-Ireland stage (yet again!) picking up 2 National Titles and 2 runners-up titles. Such a success certainly reflects the commitment and determination of the teams.”
The path to the National Finals was secured on Friday 4th March when 4 out of 5 Royal and Prior Teams experienced success at a provincial level, winning Ulster Titles in Lisburn.
The Senior Girls Cup Team (Rachel McNulty, Kirsty McKinney, Ellen Patterson and Shannon) won the All-Ireland Division 1 Finals losing to Coleraine 4-2, Munster 3-3 and beating Leinster 4-2. Each of the girls knew the significance of every point so they played with a relentless determination to achieve the desired outcome. Rachael Darragh (U-18 Ireland, no.3 in Ireland) was absent from the School side as she was playing in Europeans in Switzerland. Shannon Russell got an opportunity to step up into the pack and gained her 1st All-Ireland Title.
The Minor Girls (Kim Laird, Chloe Lowry, Emma Gallagher and Leah Magee) may be the youngest group but their mature approach and level head led to them easily seeing of their opponents. Resounding victories over Munster 6-0, Leinster 6-0 and Ulster 6-0 saw them dominate this section. Throughout the entire season these girls have achievements unique in that not a set was dropped nor a game lost by any of the girls, reflecting their control at minor level
The Senior Boys (Ryan Macbeth, Josh McMullan, Aaron McAuley, Mark Laird and Gareth Craig) Friend’s school, Lisburn got the chance to send their team when an invitation was extended to the Ulster Runners-Up as Connacht had no Div.1 representation. Raphoe beat Friends twice in the Ulster School’s Finals. But in a reversal of fortunes Raphoe came out on the wrong side of the draw, losing out 152-151 on points. The boys were long suffering knowing that their narrow defeat to Friends would cost them the title. Despite beating Munster 6-0 and Leinster 6-0 it was not enough, the Royal lads had to settle for 2nd best on this occasion.
The Junior Boys (Dylan Laird, Jamie McKinney, Aaron Magee, Ben Wallace and Andrew Lowry) had no easy road to travel on Wednesday. They played Friend’s School, Lisburn and won 4-2; next they played St.Colmcilles and drew 3-3. Dylan Laird and Jamie McKinney were in great singles form taking on 4 Irish players, although they lost, their performances would have been personal bests for both boys. The great depth in the Raphoe side was called upon on numerous occasions and 3rd & 4th singles and 2nd doubles ensured their opponents never got too far ahead. The Terenure Boys were very strong boosted by 2 Irish U-15’s but Raphoe managed a draw. When points were tallied Raphoe had to accept a Runners Up place, Terenure taking gold.
Raphoe have successfully developed a strong tradition in Badminton Circlec in recent years and as KathyAnn Gibson says: “We are very proud of our players and wish them continued success. Our pupils have been making the cut for many years now and I hope this strong tradition of dominance continues.”