Sligo boosted by Coola's Success Story

team boosted by Coola’s fine feats By Liam
î Maoldhomhnaigh

on above image to go to web site
Coola Post Primary School marvellously won
the Ladies Gaelic football Post Primary Schools
Senior ‘C’ Championship back in April, a crop
had been sown. Now a rich harvest could be
reaped. Sligo’s panel for Sunday’s TG4-sponsored
Ladies Gaelic football All-Ireland Junior
Championship final boasts six players who
contributed to Coola’s famous feat in Cusack
Park, Ennis. 

Of these, Stephanie O’Reilly, Coola’s inspirational
captain, has also become her county’s talisman;
the Leaving Certificate student has struck
a phenomenal 7-19 (40 points) in the four
victories that have brought Sligo to the verge
of glory. The Sligo team that started the
All-Ireland semi-final against Cork included
three Coola players midfielder Bernice Byrne,
half-forward Sinead McTiernan and Stephanie
O’Reilly, the team’s chief score-getter, at
full-forward. Two more Coola players, Joanne
O’Connell and Caroline Benson, were later
introduced as the Munster champions were obliterated;
Michelle Mostyn, the sixth link to Coola’s
All-Ireland title, was one of 10 unused substitutes.

Coola celebrating their historic win

Doherty, who master-minded Coola Post Primary
School’s Senior ‘C’ success, as well as their
All-Ireland Junior ‘C’ triumph in 2003, believes
that her squad’s groundbreaking achievement has
enhanced title prospects at county level. “Hopefully
what we [Coola] achieved has added something extra
to the county team this year. I would say that
it helped our players to get selected on the county
panel. When they were playing so well for their
school, it was probably difficult for [Sligo manager]
Kathleen Kane to ignore them,” Doherty, who regularly
attends Sligo’s games, said. “Of course you cannot
compare what we did to what the players will experience
next Sunday, which is playing in Croke Park. But
I think the players from that Coola team would
have an idea of what the build-up to a big game
is like.” “It is just great for the school to
have so many representatives on the Sligo squad.
A lot of them have got key roles in the team and
have been major influences this year. It [the
All-Ireland final] is the main topic of conversation
in the school at the moment. We are buying material
to make flags for the game.” “Because of the success
we have had there is a huge interest in sport
in the school. All the girls that started this
month in First Year want to play [Ladies Gaelic]


A bus carrying Coola Post Primary School
students, accompanied by Doherty and another
teacher, Lorna Davey, will make the trip
to Dublin. The Ladies Gaelic football All-Ireland
finals, Junior and Senior have become an
annual pilgrimage for Coola’s pupils and
staff. Stephanie O’Reilly, for example,
would have been among the Coola contingent
that watched last year’s games when Donegal
and Mayo emerged with the Junior and Senior
titles respectively. Doherty revealed that
after Mayo’s victory, O’Reilly and her class-mates
got to walk on Croke Park’s revered turf.
Twelve months later O’Reilly whose down-to-earth
attitude is greatly admired by Doherty will
again tread Croker’s hallowed sod, but as
a player. The Coola manager has, like most
followers of Ladies Gaelic football in the
county, run short of adjectives to describe
O’Reilly’s overwhelming acumen. “There is
no doubt that if you haven’t got players
to put over points or put the ball in the
net then you are not going to win games,
and Stephanie’s ability to do that is exceptional,”
she remarked on a Friday afternoon last
April, in the jubilant aftermath of her
side’s defeat of St Brigid’s Post Primary
School, Killarney. O’Reilly scored 3-7 in
that fixture.


but victorious

accepting that she can empathise with certain
aspects of Kathleen Kane’s managerial role, Doherty
knows that Kane is working in a different environment.
“Kathleen’s job is much more difficult than mine!
There is a lot more pressure involved. She has
been hugely supportive of not just Coola, but
of every Sligo Secondary School that is trying
to promote Ladies [Gaelic] football.” “We want
to repay her in some way by supporting the team.
The [Sligo] players’ commitment has been absolutely
100 per cent. They have worked so hard. I would
like to think that this could be their year and
I’m thrilled to bits that they have got this far.”
“While you can never predict what will happen
in an All-Ireland final until the last whistle
sounds, I have huge belief in this team even though
they haven’t been at this stage before,” Doherty
added. If this particular Sligo crop does prove
worthy, its Coola roots will have made a substantial

article was kindly given to us by The Sligo Weekender



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