Louth Primary Schools Inaugural 11-a-side Competition
Qualifying Days Report
The first ever U13 Primary Schools 11 a side competition took part in the impressive surroundings of DkIT Sport on the 12th and 13th of December.
Nine schools from throughout Louth took part, with CBS Primary Dundalk, St Mary’s Knockbridge, Scoil Eoin Baiste and St Fursey's Haggardstown competing on Day One.
The inaugural game saw the CBS face Eoin Baiste and the men from Fatima took an early lead and dominated the midfield battle to end up recording victory thanks to a number of well taken chances. In their second game of the day, inspired goalkeeping from Paul Ekperuoh- who was outstanding throughout the tournament- and resolute defending from both CBS and Knockbridge saw the sides record a goalless draw. Penalties were needed to separate the sides and, after a number of sudden death efforts, the lads from Knockbridge took the spoils. Indeed, it wasn’t the only game to go to spotkicks as, following a couple of cracking goals, Eoin Baiste tied with Haggardstown. Once again, it was a tense shootout and the men in green from Eoin Baiste prevailed. Following this, the two teams who had suffered defeat on penalties faced each other.
Similar to their opening game, the men in blue from Chapel Street fell behind to a strike early in the encounter, however they acquitted themselves well and had a number of chances to potentially equalise despite the pressure from Haggardstown. Eventually, the stubborn resistance offered by the fantastic Ekperuoh and his defence was broken with a couple of late goals sealing a 3-0 victory.
St Fursey's faced St Mary's in both teams' first game of the competition. It was a well-matched tie with both keepers having to be at their best after passages of intricate play led to good chances for both rural schools during the game.
The tie was settled with four minutes to go, however, after a bit of magic from the right winger from St Mary's. After beating three defenders he unleashed a thunderbolt from an acute angle which smashed the back of the net. This was enough for the Knockbridge side to pick up the maximum points from the game.
After two penalty shoot out wins in their second games, Scoil Eoin Báiste and St Mary's NS served up a cracking finale. Twice the town team took the lead - the first from a mistake at the Knockbridge reargaurd while the second was from a quick thinking corner kick - and twice the rural school equalised - the first from a deft touch after a super cross from the right while the second was a sublime free kick at the death. The lottery of penalties seperated the top two teams on the day as Eoin Báiste claimed the glory!
Day Two saw five schools – two from the Dundalk region, St. Francis Blackrock & St. Josephs Avenue Road, two from Drogheda, St. Mary’s Dublin Road & St. Joseph’s Sunday’s Gate, with Tullydonnell NS completing the group.
A closely contested opening local derby saw St. Joseph’s come out on top, with the group matches rattling off in timely fashion. With just three matches remaining, it was a three horse race, with the two Drogheda schools & Tullydonnell vying for the final places. St. Mary’s managed a tight victory over St. Joseph’s to edge ahead, with the St. Joseph’s-Tullydonnell match effectively deciding who would go through in the runners-up spot. Fate was again the Tullydonnell boys, as they lost in a sudden-death penalty shoot out, after a thrilling 2-2 draw. St. Joseph’s secured second place in the group on the head-to-head record, having won the penalty shoot out, with both teams tied on ten points. Tullydonnell can hold their heads high, however, as they won two & drew two matches on the day, losing both of the drawn games on sudden death penalties – not bad for the smallest school in the competition.
January 23rd sees the four qualifiers – Scoil Eoin Baiste, Knockbridge, St. Mary’s Drogheda & St. Joseph’s Drogheda – return to DkIT Sport for the finals day, which will decide on the first winners of the all-county Primary Schools competition.
Many thanks to Declan McGrath (FAI Schools), Tomas O’Connor (CBS Primary, Dundalk), Liam Callan (Albion Rovers FC, Monasterboice), Alan Whelan & Robert Martin (ISRS Louth Branch), all at DkIT Sport, the teachers & players involved in the tournament.
Louth Primary Schools Inaugural 11-a-side Tournament: Finals Day Report
Thursday 23rd January 2020 saw the four qualifiers from the semi-finals day – St. Mary’s Parish School, Drogheda, St. Joseph’s CBS, Drogheda, Scoil Eoin Baiste, Dundalk & St. Mary’s N.S., Knockbridge, gather for the finals day of this inaugural Primary Schools event. Considering the tightness of the results in the qualifier days, players & spectators were in for a treat in DkIT Sport.
The day commenced with the ‘North Louth’ derby, between Knockbridge & Eoin Baiste. A closely contested match ended 1-1 after normal time, with Knockbridge winning 6-5 on sudden death penalties to claim the three points. The first version of the Drogheda ‘Clasico’ was up next, with St. Mary’s claiming a 3-0 victory, with two late goals, as Joseph’s pushed for an equaliser, putting a gloss on a good performance from the Dublin Road men.
The second set of fixtures saw St. Joseph’s return to winning form, with a tight 2-1 over Knockbridge. St. Mary’s continued their impressive form with a 2-0 victory over Eoin Baiste. The last set of group matches saw St. Mary’s defeat Knockbridge 3-0, with St. Joseph’s winning 3-1 against Eoin Baiste.
So, in a repeat of the opening matches, Knockbridge & Eoin Baiste faced off in the 3rd/4th place play-off, with the two Drogheda schools to square off again in the final.
There was no penalties needed this time however, as Knockbridge ran out convincing 4-1 winners against a tiring Eoin Baiste team. The third ‘El Clasico’ of the competition (the two schools had met in the qualifiers as well) saw an excellent contest, which was fought hard until the very end, with St. Mary’s Parish School running out 3-1 winners & crowned as the inaugural Louth Primary Schools 11-a-side champions.
The FAI Schools now runs Primary schools competitions in Dublin, Kildare, Louth & Meath, with plans to expand further over the seasons ahead. A huge thank you to Declan McGrath for organising the competition, to Joe Carroll, FAI Schools Leinster Branch Secretary for his presence & presentation at the finals day, to Liam Callan, Tomas O’Connor, DkIT Sport, Robert Martin (ISRS) & Alan Whelan (ISRS) for all of their help.
Most importantly, a huge thank you to the nine schools, nine teachers & roughly 110 students involved in the competition over the three days – we look forward to building from this in 2021 & beyond!