St. Augustine’s take third successive Superschools title

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After what was probably the closest and hardest fought contest in the history of the European Superschools competition, the Irish representatives, St.Augustine’s College, took their third consecutive overall title and fifth in the nine years in which they have competed.

The ballroom of Clonea Strand Hotel erupted with delight when the final result was announced before the closing Banquet on Saturday night and unlike many other competitions, the entire 200 students and their coaches rose to their feet to congratulate and loudly applaud the tenacious campaign waged by the St.Augustine’s athletes.

Blessed with glorious weather throughout and played mainly in bright sunshine, the twenty students of St. Augustine’s had battled with their seven European neighbours through Track and Field and Swimming (Thursday); Soccer and Badminton (Friday) and Basketball and Run & Bike on Saturday.

Unlike last year in Gravelines in France, when St. Augustine’s dominated the competition from start to finish, this was a year in which every ball had to be contested in every game, every shuttle returned in badminton and every last ounce of energy brought to bear in the demanding Bike and Run competition, the last event on a full programme.

Through the course of Wednesday last, eight Schools and Colleges from seven countries across Europe converged on St. Augustine’s College and, in an impressive 9pm Official Opening Ceremony presided over by the Mayor of Dungarvan, Cllr. Damien Geoghegan, College Principal, Joseph Moynihan, Head Coach, Br. Patrick Lennon and former teacher and College Chaplain, Fr. C. O’Donnell, OSA, showed just what the spirit of Superschools is and has been since its inception eleven years ago.

In his address to the international audience, the Mayor welcomed the visiting athletes and wished the eight teams ‘a successful tournament, good companionship and fruitful friendships while you are amongst us’. Addressing the young people directly, the Mayor said that they have many challenges ahead, but that their involvement in sport and their participation in competition, would prepare them for those challenges and develop their leadership skills so that they could take an active part in the society of which they are members.

“I thank the Principal and his staff for taking the very considerable trouble to enter these Games in Wales in 1997 for the first time,” he continued. “It was a bold step to take and since then, the College and the students have gained greatly from the experience.

“Having an opportunity of mixing socially with young people from other countries is just one of the benefits and of course, the College’s record in participation has been an exceptionally successful one.”

Taking part in the competition with St. Augustine’s were: Jean Jaures High School and College Pierre et Marie Curie, France; Kannelmaki School, Finland; Bjorkvalisskolen, Sweden; Carluke High School, Scotland; Pen-y-Dre High School, Wales and Ellis Guilford High School and Sporting College, England.

A 7.45am start on Thursday found the competitors on their way to Waterford to the magnificent new Kingfisher Club Swimming Pool and the Regional Sports Centre for Swimming and Track and Field. This latter brought determined performances from the St. Augustine’s team in an element which has always been one of their strengths and which saw them take medals in a variety of disciplines including Gold for Leann Herlihy (High Jump); Lisa Houlihan (Long Jump); Michael Devine (Long Jump); Silver for Niamh Flynn (300m); Lorraine O’Neill (Javelin); Fiona Morrissey (1500m); Daniel McCarthy (400m). The Girls Relay team of Maria Delahunty, Lisa Houlihan, Leann Herlihy and Niamh Flynn and Boys Relay Team of Joey Doherty, Daniel McCarthy, Aaron Meehan and Michael Devine also took Silver. Bronze went to Joe Conway (1500) and Michael Raher (Shot). Together with other good performances just out of the medals, this gave the Irish 7 Points and second spot in the table.

The Swimming also proved to be a happy hunting ground for the Irish, winning this section and taking medals in both the Boys and Girls Lifesaving with teams of Tom Aird and Danny Kiely and girls Rachel Walsh and Fiona Morrissey.

Gold went to Kate O’Connor (Backstroke), Aisling Power (Front Crawl), Silver went to Joe Conway (Breaststroke), with Bronze for Ruth Fennell in the Breaststroke.

At the end of the competitions, Br. Lennon paid tribute to the excellent co- operation and courtesy they had received from John Walsh, Manager of the RSC and Lowry Orbery, Manager of the Kingfisher Club, which had streamlined the events and helped them to complete the programme well within their allotted time.

This performance saw St. Augustine’s share top spot with traditional rivals, Scotland at the end of day one.

Friday’s competition started in the morning with the girls on the badminton courts and the boys on the soccer field. In the afternoon, they alternated with the girls outdoors and the boys on the courts.

In the Girls competition, Aisling Power and Lorraine O’Neill playing doubles took the Gold while Singles Rachel Walsh and Fiona Morrissey took silver.

The Boys team of Ross Dunford and Tom Aird (Doubles) and singles Joe Conway and Michael Raher took Bronze.

The Girls soccer team fought a very determined and skilful campaign, battling successfully through their pool games into the semi-final, taking a final spot against old rivals, Sweden. At the end of full time and one period of extra time, the sides were still level and it had to go to sudden death penalties before Sweden could take the Gold. This was one of the finest performances of the Tournament, with the girls most unlucky having to settle for Silver. The team members were: Rachel Walsh, Maria Delahunty, Leann Herlihy, Fiona Morrissey, Lorraine O’Neill (Goal), Ruth Fennell, Kate O’Connor, Lisa Houlihan, Niamh Flynn and Aisling Power.

Together with the boys fifth place in their competition, it gave Ireland a joint Fourth spot, which together with their overall victory in the Badminton, saw them take a one point lead over the Scots, with Sweden in third place at the end of day two.

As they breakfasted in the magnificent Gold Coast Chalets where they were accommodated for the four days, all of the teams must have had Ireland on their mind, for the Run and Bike has been one of their strengths over the years. That was for the afternoon, however, with Basketball in the morning.

In their section, the Girls took Silver with all ten players participating, while the Boys Fifth place earned valuable points also.

In the end, like in all good competitions, the decision rested on the results of the final competition, the Bike and Run where eight cyclists, boys and girls alternated with eight runners, boys and girls, each covering a 1500 metre course.

St. Augustine’s took the lead from the start and completed the 24k course with forty seconds to spare over the Scots, with Sweden coming in third. As their final participant crossed the line, the St. Augustine’s Team sensed an overall victory, but due to the complicated marking system, had to wait several hours to the Banquet before they got confirmation of their record third consecutive win.

Br. Patrick Lennon, in his role of Tournament Director presented the magnificent Overall Trophy to the Captains, Rachel Walsh and Joe Conway, as well as the Runner-up Trophy to Scotland and the third place award to Sweden.

At the close, Br. Lennon said he was thrilled at the success of their preparations as hosts, as everyone had expressed themselves very pleased with the arrangements. He was naturally ‘over the moon’ that St. Augustine’s had retained the trophy yet again and paid tribute to the team member and coaches for the magnificent way they worked together.

Assisting him in the administration were Emma Walsh, Angela Walsh, as well as College Principal, Joseph Moynihan, while additional coaching was provided by Fr. Gerry Horan, Peter Jordan, Pat Boylan and Colette Boylan.

College Principal, Joseph Moynihan was equally pleased with both the arrangements and the victorious outcome for the team. “Outside of being totally committed to their task, they have been exemplary in their behaviour,” he said, “and I am proud of them and the success of the event.”

The full St. Augustine’s Team was as follows: Girls: Rachel Walsh, (Capt), Lisa Houlihan, (Vice Capt), Maria Delahunty, Ruth Fennell, Niamh Flynn, Leann Herlihy, Fiona Morrissey, Kate O’Connor, Lorraine O’Neill, Aisling Power.

Boys: Joe Conway (Capt), Ross Dunford, (Vice Capt), Thomas Aird, Michael Devine, Joe Doherty, Barry Henley, Danny Kiely, Daniel McCarthy, Aaron Meehan, Michael Raher.

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