Saturday 29th April 2017 will see the best Schools in Ireland clash once again at the All-Ireland North-South Finals in Naas, Co. Kildare. Dalriada will feature strongly emerging as Champions of both their Under 16 and Under 18 Domestic Schools Titles. The Co. Antrim girls hope to emulate their Under 16 All-Ireland win from last year when the McDonald Cup came north of the border for the first time in five years.
The first game will take place at 12pm and will feature Dalriada against Colaiste Muire, Ennis, from Co. Clare. The schools, separated by 6 hours of driving time will meet in Naas, Co. Kildare for the fixture. This is the first time that the Co. Clare School has made it all the way to the final and with both teams having international players in their roster, it proves to be a fantastic match. The Co. Antrim girls will want to hold on to the McDonald cup after winning it in thrilling fashion last year when they defeated St. Raphael’s of Galway by a mere two points in the deciding set. Head Coach, Dr Ian Walker said that even though we have won this particular title three times we have never managed to retain it for a successive year and we hope to overturn that this time round. We are missing our Key Defensive Libero, Elle Kirgan but the rest of the squad will be present including Northern Ireland Players Mary Parkash, Milenka Rygelskia, Sarah Hadden, Cara Telfer and Imogen Thompson.
The Under 18 match will take place at 2pm between Dalriada and St. Mary’s of Co. Kildare who have dominated Irish School volleyball over recent years. The St. Mary’s squad defeated Dalriada in Ballymoney two years ago to win the Under 16 title so we are no strangers to their capabilities. However, it will be the younger sixth formers of Dalriada from Year 13 who emerged as Northern Ireland Champions and this team has a solid pedigree of winning having won the Under 16 All-Ireland title last year. The team led successfully by Captain Jill Leslie has great defensive capabilities and Northern Ireland International players Olivia Hall and Emily Walsh and Alice Dunlop offer an excellent mix of talent through the squad. The match, being played in Naas, will be tough against a St. Mary’s side that play together in their club which has performed excellently in the southern leagues.
The entire school community and everyone at Northern Ireland Volleyball wish both teams all the very best for Saturday 29th April. It will be a brilliant day out. The respective boys tournament took place in March with both of these titles going to the southern schools so let’s hope that the girls can bring at least one of the titles North of the Border again.
Wish them the very best of luck!