TRAFRASK NS recently captured the All-Ireland FAI Primary School five-a-side soccer tournament which was held in the Aviva Stadium recently.
The Cork primary school soccer team were crowned national champions following two wins and a dramatic draw in their last game.
This enabled the Beara-based soccer stars capture the national title for the first time in their history.
School principal Louisa O’Donoghue was thrilled with the historic nature of their success.
“It has been a very exciting few months in terms of soccer at Trafrask NS. We are delighted that the hard work has paid off.
“We are thrilled to have won the national title,” declared the proud principal.
What makes their All-Ireland success all the more amazing is the startling fact they possess one of the smallest national schools’ who competed in this annual national event.
This statistic greatly pleases their school principal.
“Becoming All-Ireland soccer champions is definitely a huge achievement for any school. It is also a huge achievement when you take into consideration Trafrask NS which is located on the Beara Peninsula has a total of 43 children enrolled.
“This ensured we were one of the smallest schools to participate in the competition. This makes it an extra special achievement for the players, teachers and the primary school. We are so immensely proud of their heroics.”
Due to their small numbers, there are only two teachers currently teaching in Trafrask NS. Entering a team in such a big national competition requires intense preparation and a great amount of voluntary work behind the scenes revealed Louisa.
“Entering competitions of this size can be challenging for a two-teacher school.
“We knew that before we entered. When the opportunity presented itself we needed to embrace it for the good of the students and in the hope of making dreams come true.”
Despite their remote location and small catchment area, the Beara based national school have always enjoyed a good reputation for producing talented sports stars.
Louisa is proud to see the ace soccer players now progress to starring for their local clubs and even attending FAI camps.
“There has always been a sporting culture within the school.
“Ever since we first entered the competition three years ago, Trafrask NS has fostered a love of soccer within the Adrigole area.
“Now the majority of the team have signed up with local soccer clubs such as Beara United, Bantry Bay Rovers and the West Cork Schoolboys.
“Some children have attended FAI soccer training camps.”
Trafrask NS also enjoyed a very productive campaign in last year’s All-Ireland tournament.
They ultimately finished runners-up following a sustained run.
Louisa believes their heartache last year, the hard work and unity displayed behind the scenes from all within the school, paved the way for them to succeed this year.
“The experience of being runners-up in last year’s competition definitely stood to them.
“It must also be noted that parents, supporters, other staff members and the Board of Management all had an active role to play in making this possible for the school.
“Their success on the pitch is a whole team effort, so too is the work and coaching behind the scenes.
“Being active and engaged in sporting activities is highly valued by both the deputy principal Paula O’Sullivan and I.
“This, combined with the excellent training provided by the Adrigole GAA coaching officer Garda Aidan Cremin, their soccer coaches and of course the natural raw talent of the boys themselves provided the team with ample opportunity to succeed in this year’s national final competition.”
All the soccer games were played at the Aviva Stadium.
The talented soccer players were presented with their winners' medals by former Republic of Ireland midfielder Keith Andrews.
Current senior team manager Mick McCarthy was also in attendance to cap off a great day for the players revealed Louisa.
“The competition this year was of a very high standard with some very intense matches.
“In particular, the provincial final against Tipperary was very nerve-wracking. That game required sudden death penalties following a thrilling display of soccer.
“Two quick goals saw Trafrask win the first game at the Aviva against SN Colmcille, Dún na nGall.
“The second game against Sligo resulted in a narrow win for Trafrask. The third game was very intense especially in the latter stages when Offaly scored three goals to equalise.
“Thankfully, a draw was enough to secure the national title.”
Following their soccer heroics, the victorious players were afforded a huge ovation upon their arrival home in Beara.
Proud family members and members of the local community gathered to acclaim their returning heroes.
“The victorious Trafrask national champions enjoyed a warm homecoming that evening.
“The team, their families and supporters drove in convoy from Glengarriff to Adrigole. It was wonderful to see the whole community line the roads welcoming the team home.
“The boys were given a well-deserved rest and the celebrations continued the following afternoon in school with music, food and dance.”
The victorious Trafrask players will always cherish their soccer heroics in the Aviva Stadium.
Louisa is hopeful the primary school will continue to produce sports stars going forward.
“Hopefully, this competition will foster a love of all sports for the children and encourage them to pursue their dreams in the future.
“The memory of competing and winning at the Aviva Stadium will be one that they will treasure forever.”