Northern Ireland news

Past pupils returning heroes as they bring Sam Maguire to Co Tyrone primary school

Past pupils of Edendork Primary School and Tyrone GAA players Darren McCurry, Shea Hamill, Conn Kilpatrick, Niall Morgan return to their former primary school with the Sam Maguire and Anglo Celt cups pictured with teacher Joanne Quinn and her baby Kate. Picture by Mal McCann.

FOUR past pupils returned to their Co Tyrone primary school, bringing a very special guest with them - the Sam Maguire.

Edendork Primary School in Dungannon gave an ecstatic welcome to their returning heroes yesterday.

Niall Morgan, Darren McCurry, Conn Kilpatrick and Shea Hamill - along with fellow Edendork alumni Michael McKernan - helped their county to All Ireland glory last month.

The victorious Red Hand side was unable to bring the trophy home with them due to Covid-19 restrictions, but it has now been released by Croke Park.

Players are accompany the cup on its visits to every school in the county as part of the county's pledge to start "with those that haven't seen it before".

Past pupils of Edendork Primary School and Tyrone GAA players Darren McCurry, Shea Hamill, Conn Kilpatrick, Niall Morgan return to their former primary school with the Sam Maguire and Anglo Celt cups. Picture by Mal McCann.

Edendork principal Anne McAlinden said the children were most thrilled by the presence of the players - even though they see one of them every day.

"Niall is in his eighth year as a teacher here and is a great role model for the children in class," she said.

"One P1 come in every morning and is excited about going to see Mr Morgan.

"They're as excited to them as the Sam Maguire Cup. All this term, despite Covid, there has been a lovely buzz about the school, that sense of hope."

`Mr' Morgan left the school for the first time in 2003, with Joe Crozier the only one of the current teaching staff to have had him in their class - although "Mrs Dunne also taught Niall when she was a student teacher on her teaching practice".

McCurry left in 2004, Hamill in 2006 and Kilpatrick in 2008 and - along with McKernan whose last year was 2009 - are all know to some teachers who are still there.

"They always were athletic and had an interest in Gaelic games and participating with good team spirit. They stood out as being very competitive," Ms McAlinden said.

The school's contribution to the county's All-Ireland victory comes despite its football pitch being waterlogged for much of the winter months.

"We have a big catchment area and great support from the local GAA club - St Malachy's," the principal said.

"And local businesses as well sponsor our Gaelic tournament every year - it all helps".

Covid restrictions prevented a mass reception for the trophy, with the 12 classes instead taking turns to have their picture taken with `Sam'.

"It was tight to do in an hour, but no child was left out," Ms McAlinden said.

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