De La Salle 2-2; Newtown School 3-6
Wednesday, May 21st, 2008, is a day that will be written into sporting history in Waterford. The crowd may have been small and the players on view were not presented with any medals but those facts meant absolutely nothing on this most special of days when Newtown secondary school played a Gaelic football match for the first time in 210 years.
One of the joint coaches of the Newtown School team, Ian Hatton, summed up this wonderful occasion beautifully. “Since 1798, when our school was founded, we never played De La Salle in a Gaelic Football game although the two schools are only a few yards from each other. This was in fact the first time this school has ever played a Gaelic football game.
“We came here not knowing what to expect and to win makes it even more special but in truth the result was just a little bonus. We have a few players who are mad keen on the game but a lot of the others have only taken up the game this year. The times are changing and perhaps up to few years ago the idea of Newtown School playing Gaelic football would be unheard of.
“Players of different religions enjoying the game, and each others company is another step forward in the world we now live in. We would be associated with rugby and hockey and such sports but after this game who knows what will happen. The lads will be going on holidays very shortly but when they return I believe they will want more games and we will see what happens then, but I believe this in only the beginning of something special.”
The other coach, Paul Cappock, was equally up-beat about the future of the Newtown side. “We have some very talented players at the school right now and the idea of putting a team together was the idea of two students from Monaghan, Conor and James Belliue. Unfortunately those two lads went down with the mumps and as a result they had to miss the match but I think we did them proud today.
“Arthur Dunne plays minor football for Wexford and another player, Hugo Fairhead, is playing for Cork. Our sub goalkeeper who played in the second half is from Germany and you saw what he is capable of today by producing a wonderful save late on in the game.
“As Ian said we are living in changing times and it is wonderful to see students from all over Ireland and from places like Germany proudly wearing the Newtown colours in Gaelic football. Big trees are grown from little acorns and who knows what will happen in the future,” beamed Paul.
DLS play their part
When the full time whistle blew, the De La Salle players were the first to congratulate Newtown on their victory. As already stated the result was not important, but nevertheless there will be a quiet satisfaction within the Newtown ranks for some time to come. To watch them walk of the pitch following the full-time whistle with broad smiles and recalling every minute of the game was heartwarming. I got the feeling that they will want more of this when they return following the summer holidays, as indeed will the new students who come to the school next term.
Ian and Paul did admit that some of the players should have taken their points, rather than go for goal at times but they loved the manner in which their charges approached the game from the opening whistle.
David Kelly, Michael Ward and David Molloy were the Newtown players who scored the goals, but on a day like this keeping an official record of the scorers was not the point of the exercise.
Wonderful, simply wonderful and congratulations to all concerned on a day when everyone was a winner!