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Pat Jennings’ Girls’ Football Cup

This year saw the creation of a new school girls’ league cup for Newry, Mourne and Down named, The Pat Jennings, Newry, Mourne and Down, Junior Girls, School’s League Cup and was sponsored by local business, Collin’s Aerospace. Local Kilkeel High School teacher, Julie Houston reached out to schools to form a group that would contest a football cup in the form of a league. This system works for schools and allows for more matches rather than a knock-out cup. Eight schools signed up to get involved: Kilkeel High School, Down High School, Blackwater Integrated, Assumption Grammar, Rathfriland High School, Newry High School, Our Lady’s Grammar and St. Paul’s High School. Two groups were formed for group matches and all schools made it to a semi-final of either the big cup or small cup. In Group 1, St. Paul’s and Our Lady’s ended up joint winners with equal points and goal difference. In Group 2, Assumption topped the group with equal points as Kilkeel High but with more goals.

The semi-final of the small cup seen Rathfriland High School face Down High where they came out victorious with a 6-2 win. The other semi-final of the small cup was between Newry High School and Blackwater with the Newry side securing a spot in the final with a 7-1 win.

The semi-final of the big cup seen St. Paul’s take on Kilkeel High School with Kilkeel winning 3-1 in a well contested match. The other semi-final was between Assumption Grammar and Our Ladys with Assumption storming into the final with a 6-0 win.

The finals took place on Tuesday 14th May at Milltown, home of Warrenpoint Town FC. Warrenpoint were so accommodating to the new league cup and made the day one to remember allowing us to use their facilities and introducing the teams as they entered the pitch. All school’s involved would like to thank Gerry Keenan (Newry City FC), Jack Gilsenan (Warrenpoint FC)and Brian Powell (Warrenpoint FC) for arranging use of the pitch and Volunteers at Warrenpoint FC, Johnny Bird, John Boyle and Robbie McCabe who overseen everything on the day. A minute’s silence was held at the start of both finals in respect of Warrenpoint FC kit man, Pat Longridge, who passed away suddenly the day before the finals. All schools involved in the cup would like to pass on sincere condolences to his friends at the club and his family.

The first final to take place in the morning was Rathfriland High School against Newry High School. Both schools started positively and created some good chances. Rathfriland were in fine attacking form and were eventual winners of the small cup, winning 7-0. Both schools put on a great display of football and did their schools and clubs very proud. Next up in the big cup final was Kilkeel High School against Assumption Grammar School. Kilkeel got off to a slow start and found themselves 3-0 down after a short space of time. The game then became closer with both schools playing some great football and creating chances. Assumption Grammar were victorious with a 6-3 win. Both teams battled hard to the very end and really showed off some great skills and determination. They did their schools and clubs very proud. Schools involved would like to thank Micky O’Kane for refereeing both finals at short notice.

It was a great ending to the inaugural tournament which provided more opportunities this year, for girls to play football. It is hoped that this be an annual league cup which will grow and develop with more local schools getting involved in the future. With the development of girls football in the area thriving, this will further compliment and enhance their experiences in the game. It is great to have so much support from local clubs, with best wishes for the finals and clubs accommodating finals. Special thanks also, to Collin’s Aerospace for providing two fantastic cups and all the medals for the finals and to Representative, Jennifer Heaney for coming along to present them.