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All roads led to Castlebellingham and the Grove GAA pitch on Saturday morning, 20 October, as the Dromiskin boys’ football team took their place in the Cumann na mBunscol Sciath Mhic Raoise final. Throw in was at 9:45am and their opponents in this Cumann na mBunscol decider were Tinure NS, victors in the South Louth section.
Victories over Haggardstown, Kilcurry and a shock win over favourites Knockbridge meant our young footballers faced off against Kilkerley in the county semi final on Thursday 18 October. A gutsy backs to the wall performance saw them emerge as 4 point victors on a score line of 3-7 to 2-6.
This was their third time to reach the decider in this 9-a-side competition for rural schools. Unfortunately their appearances in 2007 and 2015 had ended in heartbreak and it was with a degree of trepidation that the boys took the pitch on a beautiful autumn morning in the well laid out Castlebellingham pitch. Coaches Mr Mc Comish and Mr Smyth had prepared the team very well and with final words of advice and encouragement they entered the fray.
This proved to be a nerve jangling encounter with no quarter asked or given by two evenly matched teams. The game flowed from end to end with the lead changing hands frequently. Tacking was teak tough but always fair and the skills shown by all players were of a very high standard. An early goal by Tinure gave them the perfect start but Dromiskin responded stoutly and resolutely chipped away at the deficit with some outstanding points. However, it was the boys from Monasterboice who went in at half time with a slender two point lead.
Mr Mc Comish gave a rousing half time talk and with a roar that echoed around Castlebellingham St Peter’s re-entered the fray. This was it – do or die – no turning back! The large group of supporters sensed that something special was about to happen and they cheered and applauded their young heroes to the rafters. The team responded with a whirlwind start that saw them overturn the Tinure advantage and open a narrow lead following an opportunistic well taken goal. Were the Dromiskin boys about to make history?
With the clock ticking away, they were dealt a sickening blow when, against the run of play, Tinure scored a fortuitous goal to once again re-establish their lead. However, cometh the hour – cometh the response. The lads refused to buckle, doubled their efforts and laid siege to the Monasterboice goal. Eventually, their relentless pressure paid off and, once again, they breached the Tinure defence to score a priceless goal. A couple of points were tacked on and despite aching bones and injuries they played through the pain barrier as the finishing line drew closer and closer. When, after what seemed like an eternity, the referee blew the final whistle it was the Dromiskin boys who prevailed on a scoreline of 2-7 to 2-3.
Scenes of jubilation unfolded and, as Cumann namBunscol chairperson, Fiachra Bell, presented the Sciath Mhic Raoise, the roar from team and supporters could be heard down in Cluskey Park. Captain Rian generously acknowledged his opponents and thanked coaches Mr Mc Comish and Mr Smyth for all their hard work and encouragement. Time now for “beeping” and a huge calvacade headed down from Bellingham weaving its way noisily around Dromiskin with the newly won trophy proudly on display. A wonderful morning finished up in Applegreen with a well earned treat for the players and their fans.
This was the school’s first boys’ county title since 1985 when the captain then was none other than Enda Mc Keown who went on to lead St Joseph’s to their first Senior football title in 1996. How fitting that in 2018 one of Enda’s sons was a cornerstone of the St Peter’s defence just as his Dad had been 33 years ago!!
Well done Mr Mc Comish and Mr Smyth and thank you to Enda and all the coaches in St Joseph’s. To photographer Jed Malone and video camera man Eamonn O Reilly a big thank you for taking on these duties at such short notice. The coaches and players really appreciated the support of parents, families and friends along with so many members of the St. Peter’s staff. Thank you also to Cumann na mBunscol for organising the competition and to the staff of Applegreen for coping so efficiently and patiently with a deluge of unexpected visitors!!