If Loreto College, Cavan can seal a first All-Ireland post primary schools senior Ladies Football title tomorrow against Loreto, Clonmel it will mark an extraordinary turnaround in fortunes.
The Alma mater of athletics great Catherina McKiernan for the longest time, Loreto had little or no success in football. That all changed in January 2016 when they narrowly defeated St Ronan’s of Lurgan in the Ulster final; they haven’t looked back since.
A run to the All-Ireland U16A final followed last year — Loreto eventually lost out to John The Baptist from Limerick — before they strolled to Ulster senior honours this year, bagging 29-55 in five matches.
And after overcoming Presentation College, Tuam last time out, the buzz grew, especially with the U16 side having returned to the national decider, too.
“That was the start of everything, that Ulster win in 2016, it broke down barriers for us as a school. It was a catalyst,” said manager Conor Maguire this week.
“There is another group coming behind, the U16s are in the All-Ireland final and the U14s are in the Ulster A final. That’s down to the clubs, the work going on at club level is phenomenal.”
Stand-outs include Lauren McVeety, sister of Cavan senior star Dara, and joint-captains Muireann Cusack and Niamh Keenaghan.
“Football in the school has changed massively, everyone has given a lot more commitment and pushed it on. We’ve realised how much we can do and what we can achieve,” said Keenaghan.
That sense of empowerment has swept through the corridors. Suddenly, playing football has become cool for senior students right down to first years.
“Yeah, it is,” added Cusack. “When we would have played in U20 about two years ago maybe, we would have been a lot less confident but now we kind of have to be leaders in the team so we have different roles.”
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