THE Hamilton High School U16 footballers recently captured county final glory after they defeated Clonakilty Community College in the Cork Colleges A football final.
The Bandon secondary school team emerged victorious over their local school rivals on a full-time score of 3-7 to 1-9 following the county final showdown which was played in Enniskeane.
Hamilton High School coach Paddy Lordan, a Limerick native paid tribute to his side for their county final heroics.
“It was a great win. We played well on the day. We were up five points at half time having played against the wind. We actually fell asleep in the second half and we conceded a soft goal to let Clon come back into the game. However, our lads showed great determination to get back in control of the game again. Bar that ten or fifteen-minute spell we were in control,” he said.
The Hammies football coach admitted it was a great ‘achievement for their school footballers to win the Cork Colleges A county final title.
“We hadn’t won this county title in a while so it is a great achievement to win it again for the school. It gets the lads used to winning pressure games and winning titles.
"It was a good game. The standard was high. A lot of the players knew each other very well which added to the game. We had a Clonakilty club man playing with us and they had a Bandon club player with them which made it interesting.”
Paddy, who still plays with Limerick club Drom-Broadford was involved in coaching both the U16 and U16.5 footballers at Hamilton High School this year. He is enjoying his coaching role.
“I was coaching the U16 and U16.5 football teams for the year. The U16.5 team was beaten in a Munster quarter-final by Templemore who were beaten in the final after. I still play with the club, not as much as I used to, but I still play. We would be very strong throughout the years and we won the Munster senior club football championship back in 2008.
“This is my second year teaching in Hammies. I got involved in coaching immediately. I was over the U14 team in the school last year. It is good to help out. I would have been involved in coaching in my own club when I was living a bit closer. I was coaching the minor team and the U13 team. It was a bit of a natural progression then to get involved with coaching the school's teams then as well,” he added.
Hamilton High School defeated Skibbereen Community School and St Francis College Rochestown en route to county final glory. Paddy said their win against Rocco gave his side a huge confidence boost.
“We played Skibbereen Community School in the first round. We hadn’t too much done prior to this game and we just got through this game. We stepped it up then in terms of training and we focused big time on winning the county title.
"We were probably underdogs against Rochestown who are a very strong team, but defeating them gave us a huge confidence boost. That really stuck with us and our confidence was good going in against Clonakilty Community College.”
“The most important thing is the players keep developing,” said the Hammies football coach. “It is always great to win. I was emphasising to the lads that they mightn’t get the chance to play in many county finals, let alone win them so it is important they grasp every opportunity they get to play in them and make the most out of them. The reality is some of them might never get the opportunity to play in a county final again so it was great to win it. They will always have this memory to look back at from their school days.”
Paddy said Hamilton High School will be competing in the Munster Colleges A grade at the newly formed U17 grade next season in order to play against the best teams and players.
“The U16.5 grade is moving to U17 next year so these lads will be playing in that. We are going to play in the Munster Colleges A grade and have a real crack off it. It is the exact same team and they have earned the right to be up at the top grade.
"It is important we are playing in the top grade so lads keep playing against the best teams and best players.”
The school football coach was full of praise for the role his coaching colleagues played and the players for their attitude all season.
“Paul Bouicher from the Newcestown club, who teaches in the school helped me with the U16 team. We also had a couple of Transition Year students helping us out. They were very good. It was a good team effort.
"The players were great to work with. They were keen to improve and take everything on board. They worked hard all year. I could see a big improvement in the players all year.”