On Thursday the 27th of June, our very excited St Paul’s Academy Girls’ Gaelic Football team took off on their annual trip to Ireland. We boarded the plane for Belfast International at 7.45am and arrived in glorious sunshine to start our adventure. The girls stopped off at Belfast City Hall for a quick selfie before heading to the Castlecourt for some well- deserved lunch. “We Are Vertigo” was our next port of call for the afternoon where students and teachers alike had a blast on the giant inflatapark. We bounced, laughed and competed against one another for an hour before heading to Botanic Garden for a picnic! The evening saw our St Paul’s Academy team take on our first challenge game of the weekend, against Tattyreagh U14 girls, from Co. Tyrone. St Paul’s started in fine form with some amazing scores from Precious Oloare and feisty midfielder Jessica Akomalafe. Fumi Oshinle was outstanding in goal. Final score 4-7 to 0-2, a fantastic win and wonderful start to our trip. We had tea and sandwiches in the evening and had plenty of laughs with our hosts for the game. Many thanks to Peter Darcy for the organisation of the friendly game.
We travelled to our host club, Castlederg, Co. Tyrone on Thursday evening, where we were greeted with an array of smiles and welcomed in to the club house with open arms. Our girls had a kick around on the pitch before meeting their host families for the duration of the tour. On Friday morning, we took off for Rossnowlagh Beach, Co. Donegal, with the sun shining and temperatures of 25C, we knew we were in for a treat! The girls went swimming in the ocean, enjoyed an ice cream and some ice slushies before heading to the amusement arcade in Bundoran for the remainder of the afternoon. We were joined by some of our host families along the way. Castlederg, our host club, played us on Friday evening at their home pitch in what proved to be a fantastic spectacle of football. Our girls were incredibly strong and clipped over some amazing scores. Feyi Afolabi made some fantastic blocks in defence, whilst Lauryn Morgan kept us in the game up front. We were defeated by 5 points in the end, but the girls’ fighting spirit definitely remained alive! Our host club had a feast of pizza, chips and chicken for our hungry teams and supporters afterwards in the club house and a fun filled disco for all the players in the evening. Needless to say our girls set the dance floor on fire with their wonderful dancing and singing - the locals were impressed!
Saturday was an action packed day full of games with Castlederg hosting a tournament for the entire day. We welcomed Aghyarn, Castelderg’s neighbouring team to join us for the tournament. Our girls put on yet another fantastic display of football and missed out on reaching the final by the narrowest of margins, getting beaten in their final group game by just 1 point. We cheered on our host club, who went on to win the tournament. Special thanks must go to our generous host families who kindly opened up their lovely homes to our students and treated us like royalty for the duration of our stay. In particular, to Brian Meehan and Maeve McGrath who worked so tirelessly to make this trip go ahead, we will be forever grateful. Thank you to Mr Meade, Miss McWilliams and Mrs Solley for their support on the trip. Our students were outstanding both on and off the pitch and I am extremely proud to be associated with this fantastic group of girls. In terms of their Gaelic Football skills, they did tremendously well to compete against teams in Ireland, considering, for some, this was their first year of being introduced to the sport. I am very proud of you all, keep up the great work!