St Ronan's, Lurgan celebrate MacRory Cup and Hogan Cup glory
ST RONAN’S College, Lurgan refused to take ‘no’ for an answer this year and the players, management, fellow pupils and teachers come together with family and supporters at the Seagoe Hotel on Friday night to celebrate a truly momentous year for the county Armagh school.
St Ronan’s – an amalgamation of St Mary’s girls, St Paul’s boys and St Michael’s grammar - won the blue-ribbon Ulster and All-Ireland schools’ double this year by adding the Hogan Cup to the MacRory title they secured by dethroning reigning champions St Patrick’s, Maghera 1-9 to 1-7 at the Athletic Grounds.
Both titles were firsts for the school and former Armagh star David Wilson, who manages the team alongside Derry U20 manager Mickey Donnelly and Colm Fegan, saluted the efforts of a talented squad of players.
“It’s great for the lads and I’m delighted for them because they put a big effort in this year,” said Wilson.
“It was off the back of a couple of disappointments, so to go for it the way they did… They deserve all the credit they get.
“The MacRory Cup was the priority. Early on in the year we got ourselves qualified for the quarter-finals when we won our second group game and we said to the boys at that time: ‘There’s a tough training block coming up here. You have to visualise Jamie (Haughey, the team captain) at the Athletic Grounds lifting the trophy in the stand’. We sold it to them that way and the effort was put in and the vision came through.”
After bursting out of the traps, St Ronan’s trailed by a point at half-time in the MacRory final but they were driven on to victory by three second half scores from Man of the Match Rioghan Meehan.
“It worked out for us, but the Carrickmacross and St Pat’s, Armagh games were really tough as well as the final,” said Wilson.
“But the boys have plenty of confidence in themselves and at least a dozen of those players had been to Rannafast and MacRory Cup semi-finals before so they knew they were good enough, it was just a case of them doing a wee bit extra to get over the line.
“All year I had this feeling that these boys never knew when they were beaten. I really felt that. I just felt they had something in them that they weren’t going to take ‘no’ for an answer. We played a few challenge games against teams from down south and that helped their confidence too – they went down and played really well so they knew they had nothing to fear going down for the Hogan semi-final and final.”
Kerry’s Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne were beaten 2-10 to 1-10 in the semi-final and St Ronan’s, who once again trailed at the break, beat Rice College by a point in the Croke Park decider.
“This year, collectively as a team and as a squad, we were far better balanced,” Wilson explained.
“We’ve had a strong defence the last couple of years but up front this year we had a real scoring threat. In the first half in games we just didn’t seem to take our chances and we were dominating but coming in at half-time a point or two down. My two wee boys were saying to me: ‘Daddy, why are yous always getting beat at half-time?’
“That was never the plan but the lads always seemed to pull it out. It was Owen McConville in the MacRory semi-final, it was Rioghan Meehan in the MacRory final, Adam Loughran kicked a couple of nice scores and Josh Megoran came on and got the goal in the Hogan semi and then Oisin Smith stepped up in the final and big Leo Montiero was excellent that day too.
“Different players stepped up at different times and that was another stand-out for the year.”