WESTPORT’S Sacred Heart School will represent FAI Schools this weekend in the Rod Houston Cup for the first time ever as Lilleshall National Sports Centre in Shropshire plays host.
The Mayo crew qualified for the prestigious event following a dramatic victory in the FAI Schools National Cup competition back in early May in Dublin. They defeated Loreto Secondary School, Kilkenny 4-3 in a nail biting penalty shoot-out after neither side could break the deadlock even after 20 minutes of extra time in their First Year Girls Cup clash.
Maggie Chambers, Laura Moran, Aenea Breslin and Aoife Staunton clinically despatched Westport’s first four spot kicks while Chiara Cardillo, Amy Clifford and Aisling Downey kept the Kilkenny side in the hunt converting their penalties.
Then skipper Katie McNea turned the tide in favour of Westport when she produced two top class saves to keep out efforts from Meaghann O’Mahony and Orla Kenny and send the sizeable and enthusiastic travelling fans from Mayo into wild celebrations. Hopefully the travelling party will have more to celebrate on Sunday afternoon following the three day encounter.
It was a first national title in ten years for the Western school so the new management duo of Fiona Casey and Anne Marie O’Malley will be hoping to build on the strong foundations left by Seamus Mac Eachmharcaigh following his sterling contribution over the years.
Westport will be keenly watched by the opposition in this campaign with the reigning Champions, hailing from the Republic of Ireland. Presentation Secondary School, Kilkenny had a phenomenal tournament twelve months previous with the Cats notching up 32 goals in three games, only conceding twice to lift the title in remarkable fashion. In 2016, Ursuline College in Sligo were runners up to eventual winners St. Ivo School. Can the Westport crew emulate their good run of form?
As host nation, England will have two representative teams in the tournament, namely a much fancied St. Ivo School, Huntingdon and the impressive Bohunt School, Wokingham. Also competing against the Mayo outfit will be Welsh starlets Ysgol Gymraeg Bro Morgannwg.
The three day event will kick off at 4.00pm tomorrow afternoon (Friday) with an all English affair as St. Ivo School take on Wokingham’s Bohunt School while at 5.15pm Sacred Heart School take on newbie’s Ysgol Gymraeg Bro Morgannwg who hail from Barry.
Saturday morning’s fixtures will see a 10.00am start for Westport as they do battle with St. Ivo’s while Bohunt entertain their Welsh counterparts Ysgol Gymraeg Bro Morgannwg.
The final series of matches on Sunday will see all teams kick off at 10.30am as Sacred Heart School field against the Wokingham girls and the St. Ivo’s stars play off against Ysgol Gymraeg Bro Morgannwg.
Title sponsor, Mr. Rod Houston is a retired School teacher and was President of the Scottish Schools FA for many years. Rod also held the position of Treasurer and Secretary of the Schools Association Football International Board (SAFIB) and is honoured to be associated with this competition that promotes girls football to a larger audience. This competition will be run similar to the Allen McKinstry Cup that has been in existence since 2008 which caters for the Boys Home Nations Champions.
The Westport side showed great class last season in the National Cup campaign and will relish the opportunity to showcase their talents on a bigger stage. FAI Schools wish Sacred Heart School every success in the tournament as they kick off proceedings tomorrow afternoon.
SACRED HEART SCHOOL, WESTPORT | Katie McNea (Captain), Ella McHale, Aenea Breslin, Sophie Scahill, Ashling Duffy, Sorcha McArney, Aoife Staunton, Leila O’Malley, Maggie Chambers, Laura Moran, Cliodhna Casey, Abi Conway, Maya O’Toole, Emily Chambers, Milly Allen, Eimear Geraghty, Laura Masterson
TEACHERS | Fiona Casey, Anne Marie O’Malley
ASSISANTS | Declan Moran, Megan Nugent, Jennifer Coughlan