St Ronan's, Lurgan have All-Ireland final place in their sights
Lidl Post Primary Schools All-Ireland Junior B Championship semi-final
St Ronan's, Lurgan v Presentation, Tuam (Friday, Longford Slashers GAC, 12.30pm)
ST RONAN'S, Lurgan are hoping to reach a first All-Ireland schools final since 2016 with victory over Presentation College, Tuam in tomorrow's All-Ireland Junior ‘B' semi-final in Longford.
The last time the Armagh school won a provincial title they went all the way to the All-Ireland final, but lost out to Scoil Criost Ri, Portlaoise in the Junior ‘A' final.
Understandably, there is a lot of excitement around the school and in the wider Lurgan community and joint-manager Niamh Marley knows she and Patrick Davey have an exceptionally talented bunch of players who are capable enough of taking the title back to the school.
However, 60 minutes of football have to be played before any thoughts can turn to a national final and this game, just like all the rest, will be approached in exactly the same way.
“Our girls are so excited about this opportunity. They are fully aware that All-Ireland semi-finals don't happen every day and are enjoying every minute of the build-up,”
said Armagh star Marley (inset) who is in her second year managing at St Ronan's after taking up the PE post in the school.
“St Ronan's College has a rich tradition of sporting success which has been further supported by the wider Lurgan community.”
Last year's disappointment at missing out on an Ulster title has been a driving force for their success this year as they defeated Holy Trinity College, Cookstown in the provincial final just before Christmas and such was their determination to get their hands on silverware, they were the first team in the whole school to start training this year.
“Our girls are extremely committed and dedicated,” said Marley.
“An Ulster title had always been in our sights since we let last years get away and given our talent and ability throughout the squad we have no doubt that an All-Ireland is achievable and what the girls deserve. This group is by far one of the best teams I have managed. They are committed, eager to learn and extremely coachable.
“At every opportunity they are trying to better themselves individually and as a team, constantly asking for feedback.
“These girls are not only the future of St Ronan's College, but are the future of Armagh and I have no doubt they will take us back to another final.”
Over half the starting team are involved in inter-county football with Armagh at U14 and U16 level and they will be led out by captain Orla McAlinden from the Sarsfield's club. Tomorrow's opponents Presentation College will present a new challenge for St Ronan's, but Marley is confident that if they play to their strengths, which they have been doing all year, and take this as another game, they will be in with every chance of reaching the final.
“As with all Connacht teams, I know Presentation College will prove a tough encounter,” added Marley.
“We have played the entire Ulster campaign to our gameplan and have made sure that we pose enough of a threat that teams need to concentrate on us Ulster Schools is extremely competitive which has prepared us immensely for this next stage.
“We take each game as it comes. We never looked further ahead than our next game which has served us well and resulted in an Ulster title. The girls have trained hard both in school, on their own and during holidays. I have always had extremely high expectations of my girls, so I've always known an
All-Ireland title has been achievable