St Mary's High School Midleton bidding for two All-Ireland titles

Sacred Heart from Westport stand between the Cork side and ladies football glory
St Mary's High School Midleton bidding for two All-Ireland titles

The St Mary's High School Midleton coaches Emma Farmer and Tomás Mac a' tSaoir with team captains Lainey O'Sullivan and Dara Keniry.

ST Mary's High School Midleton will continue their remarkable ladies football odyssey when their junior team line out in the All-Ireland semi-final against Sacred Heart Westport at Banagher, Offaly tomorrow. 

It is the first leg of a double adventure in the latter stages of national competition as a week later the senior team will play opposition from the same Mayo school also in the All-Ireland semi-final.

St Mary's have certainly been thrust into the spotlight in a big way, after securing an historic provincial double in the last few weeks and now they are dreaming of further glory days.

After winning the junior crown in Banteer against Intermediate School Killorglin, many of that successful team lined out again as part of the senior side that overcame Cashel Community School by 0-14 to 1-7 in the senior decider at the same venue last week.

Team captain Dara Keniry, a Cork senior, was centre-back and Rachel Leahy at midfield were dynamic leaders in this latest senior triumph which saw the Midleton school lead 0-7 to 0-4 at the break with Aine Hallihan scoring three points. The East Cork side then seemed to stretch away for a while in the second half, before Cashel tallied with 1-1 on the bounce to reduce the margin to a dangerous-looking two-point lead. 

However, Midleton again upped their game with Kaitlin and Bríann Smith tallying with late points to clinch an historic win, which certainly made up for the disappointment of losing the 2019 decider.

Joint team coach Emma Farmer says both Midleton sides are on a real roll. 

"There is massive momentum there now. The girls have bought into it over the last few years with their attitude in training and in matches.. They are on a high now and hopefully, that momentum will see them both through. 

"However, there is no bad team at this stage of the competition and both Westport sides will be very stiff opposition. But we're very excited here in the build-up to both games. Our group is very grounded and they have not got carried away with what they have achieved so far".

The other half of the coaching duo is Tomás Mac A' tSaoir who hails from Ballydavid in the Kerry Gaeltacht. Tomás has no doubts about the importance of the double football success.

The extracurricular is very important for everybody. The girls can be buried in the books for as long as they want but they need something outside of it to distract them. These days of success should be enjoyed.

"It's a big achievement for all the girls. Last week's senior win was the culmination of a number of years of work for many of them, who have been playing together from the first day they came into this school. 

"Winning both titles in the one year is something the school needs to enjoy as it doesn't come around that often when you look at the overall history of the competition. It is really competitive particularly here in Munster, which is probably one of the hardest provinces to win. The standard has certainly been going up and up."

The St Mary's High School Midleton winning captains Lainey O'Sullivan and Dara Keniry celebrate their double Munster Ladies Football success.
The St Mary's High School Midleton winning captains Lainey O'Sullivan and Dara Keniry celebrate their double Munster Ladies Football success.

Senior captain Dara Keniry from Lisgoold admitted it was an unreal feeling to be lifting the Schools' senior cup in Banteer.

"It is brilliant to win because some of us have been working our way with the team up through the grades over the past number of years from junior level. It was heartbreaking when we lost the last final by a slender margin a few years back. 

"This final was difficult all the way, we were pushed to the end by Cashel to the last whistle, The joy and celebrations afterwards was brilliant with all the girls together."

The juniors, who had Bríanna Smith in sparkling form scoring 2-2 in the Munster final, are first back into action tomorrow. Team captain Lainey O'Sullivan says "it all systems go" for the game.

"We have put in the work in training since last week and are hoping we can go all the way and win the All-Ireland final. It's been a really busy few weeks with both teams but we all love sport and are totally enjoying it. 

"Coming from a small club like Lisgoold is great for us all, we have a lot of the girls also involved with Cork teams."

Tomorrow's semi-final at St Rynagh's Park has a 12.30pm start. The meeting of the Ulster and Leinster champions in the first semi-final takes place today.

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