Congratulations To St Patricks And Our Ladys College

Congratulations to St Patricks and Our Ladys College from East Belfast who beat St Malachys in the “IFA” Norn Iron Schools Cup Final at Solitude yesterday.

Back in 1968, my old school St Marys CBS moved from Barrack Street in Belfast to its new home on the Glen Road in Belfast. We were of course disappointed that there was no facilities for Football (Soccer) at the school. Brother McGreevy (aka Bisto or The Boot) would not tolerate a foreign game.

So…while disappointed that my old school did not contest the Final yesterday, I am of course happy to see that the ethos of St Malachys has changed…as has the upstart Catholic school from East Belfast/North Down.

It will of course delight the IFA and those who support them if the young men from these schools play at international level…although if I was the IFA , I wouldnt hold my breath that they would choose Norn Iron…although ya never know with Holywood.

But back in the old days these school finals were inevitably contested by “state” schools and it would be interesting to compare the performance of state schools against Catholic schools in recent years. From a standing start, forty years ago…how has “Catholic” performance improved?

Looking back to “take me out to the ball game era”of Baseball….Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb and Joe Di Maggio were white. Likewise Johnny Unitas in Football. And of course Basketball was segregated with the Harlem Globetrotters were peripheral to the Sport of Basketball.

The growing numbers of black superstars…….latinos in baseball and people like Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan in basketball and yer man whose name I dont know in Football has alienated the racist element in the American sports fan.

Of course……they still have Ice Hockey.

And the growing numbers of Catholics high achieving in Sport….James McClean, Darron Gibson, Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlan in Football alienates the traditional sectarian element in Norn Iron.

Of course…still have Ice Hockey. And Rowing.

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16 Responses to Congratulations To St Patricks And Our Ladys College

  1. factual says:

    Do many Catholic schools play rugby?

  2. If the IFA has any sense it won’t look for a return on that investment. The success of Catholic schools is its own reward.

    As a St Pats old boy this is a big change since the 70s. The school stopped after school sessions after a couple of lads who stayed behind got shot by some the neighbours (Ballybeen and Tullycarnet were just over the fence, somewhere).

    The PE hall (which had been designed to be the largest in Europe at the time) sat with just seven course of bricks after several workmen where killed by grenade (I think) and no contractor could be found to finish until the early 80s, I think.

    Sport was not our forte. Queens, Oxford, Cambridge, TCD however, we (excepting my good self of course) did okay…

    • factual says:


      “The school stopped after school sessions after a couple of lads who stayed behind got shot by some the neighbours”

      Can I ask a clarifying question. Are you saying that your school used to offer football/soccer in afterschool sessions, but two of the children were shot by gunmen who were from a neighbouring district? Why would a neighour seek to shoot someone for playing soccer after school?!? It’s hard to understand for someone from the south, or at least me!

  3. The school opened just before the Troubles, in an area which in peace time was trouble free. In the Troubles, not so much. They were only shot with an air rifle. I think five of the workmen were killed.

    • factual says:

      Wow. It sounds like a completely different world – a world without good values. It is hard to imagine that school children would have been shot and those building a school should have been attacked, or that a “grenade” would have been set of anywhere near a school. It shows how bad things were up there, north of the border, in those days.

    • factual says:

      On the whole Mick it seems that sports are generally getting more and more integrated north of the border- which can only be a good thing.

    • But we had great values taught us, without a doubt.

      It sounds much worse than it was from day to day. The grenade was after Joe Cahill who was a foreman on the job. Didn’t get him of course. By the time I got there in 76, the worst had already passed.

      I agree factual. I was surprised at some of the names on that Ulster rugby list, some of which I’ve worked in. Particularly some of those right out in the west of Donegal which would have been soccer/GAA strongholds 30 years ago.

      I think there’s been a lot of push and hard work. And some pull too, like the rise of Ireland and the provincial teams. We’re getting somewhere no doubt about it. The peace needs to hold as a pre-requisite but we also need to develop confident politics that are not afraid of change either.

      I remember talking to the manager of Holywood GAA in the 90s (ie before the cash came in) and saying to him that we need to attract Protestants to build on some of the great early successes of those early days.

      Certainly Down has great talent, but you feel the player pool needs to be broadened for them to stand a chance of future success. Same goes for Antrim too.

  4. Pingback: Ulster Rugby: Crowning good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea? « Slugger O'Toole

  5. zig70 says:

    FJH, I’ve just come home to a rant about how St Malachy’s won the schools soccer cup 20yrs ago and had a brilliant team (off which one was her brother). So there has been no change in ethos except recently where their hurling and Gaelic has strengthened largely due to St Endas.

  6. Mr Fitz, it was the Belfast Senior Cup. Just the one Catholic School through to the semis of the actual NISFA Schools Cup:

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