Hogan Cup final
St. Ronan’s Lurgan v Rice College Westport
Eunan Walsh speaks to the saffron Gael
Eunan Walsh, St. Mary’s Aghagallon and first head boy at St. Ronan’s college, Lurgan in action against St. Mary’s Ahoghill in the ACFL Division 1 at Clooney.
With the Hogan Cup final between St. Ronan’s Lurgan and Rice College, Westport only days away we spoke to the first head boy at the college, Eunan Walsh who, like a number of the present team comes from St. Mary’s Aghagallon.
Because of the Aghagallon connection the Saffron Gael has followed the St. Ronan’s progress closely this year and at least five players from the club, who play their football in the Antrim leagues are likely to start in Saturday’s final while another, Mark McAfee has made an impact from the bench when introduced in the present campaign.
Luke Mulholland is the man in the number 1 jersey and has been excellent as the first line of defence while in front of him Aidan Mulholland at full-back and Jamie Lamont at centre-half have been the anchor men of an excellent St. Ronan’s defence.
Jack Lenehan has been very consistent and influential at mid-field while Adam Loughran on the ‘40’ has been another to play a major part in the St. Ronan’s success story this year. Marc McAfee has also contributed to that success and scored with his first touch when coming on in a tight MacRory final win over St. Mary’s Magherafelt.
Eunan Walsh, a regular with St. Mary’s Aghagallon and a member of the Antrim panel in 2016-17 was the first head boy at the school when it opened in 2015 and I spoke to him this week and asked him what influence St. Ronan’s, formerly St. Michael’s had on his career and on his club.
Paddy Mac: What year were you head-boy at St Ronan’s Lurgan?
Eunan Walsh: I was Head boy in 2015/16, the first year it opened.
Paddy Mac: How long were you there and were you at St. Michael’s before the merger of the schools?
Eunan Walsh: I was only a part of St Ronan’s for 1 year. I had been to both St Pauls Junior High (Yr. 8 – 10) and then St Michaels Grammar School (Yr. 11- 13) for the other 6 years of Post Primary.
Paddy Mac: What honours did you win when you were there?
Eunan Walsh: Unfortunately, during my time in St Ronan’s/St Michaels we never won anything at the level we were playing at. We were beat in a MacRory Semi Final by Bessbrook during St Ronan’s first MacRory Cup campaign in 2015/2016. In addition to that I was honoured to be captain of various teams coming through school and was awarded the Lennon Cup for Most Promising Footballer in 2014.
Paddy Mac: How many of the present Aghagallon senior side attended St. Michael’s-St. Ronan’s?
Eunan Walsh: The majority of our present Aghagallon Senior side attended St Ronan’s or St Michaels.
Paddy Mac: Who are the present Aghagallon players who came through the school and what influence has the school had on the emergence of your club as serious division 1 contenders?
Eunan Walsh: As I said before the majority of our present senior side have came through the school to include Dan Donnelly, Pat Branagan, Oisin Lenehan, Caolan Farr and Ruairi McCann. School football has had a positive impact on the club over the last couple of years with the development of youth. Being able to play at the highest standard within school’s football at all ages has been important. The quality of the coaching, Strength and Conditioning and training that we experienced in school was at the highest level and I think that is showing with ourselves as we are heading into our second season in Division 1 as well as St Ronan’s reaching a Hogan Cup Final.
Paddy Mac: Tell me something about the Aghagallon players who will represent St. Ronan’s on Saturday. The part and influence they play at club level?
Eunan Walsh: The nine Aghagallon lads that will represent St Ronan’s all deserve a lot of credit for what they have achieved so far with the school as they are history makers. The last time that Aghagallon had representatives in a MacRory Cup Final was back in 1985 with the likes of Colin Loughran (Adam Loughran’s Dad) and Columb Walsh who were beaten by St Pat’s Maghera. These lads are all top-quality players and it shows that the hard work they have put in both with School and Club that they are getting their rewards. Around the club these lads are the role models for the younger generation of St Marys and will continue to be for a long time as they progress into senior football. They are adding to the amount of quality players that we are developing each year, that will be coming into our Senior team, challenging for places and lifting the standard which is something I’m looking forward to in the next year or two when all these lads will be Senior Footballers for Aghagallon.
Paddy Mac: What affect do you think the success of St. Ronan’s had had on St. Mary’s and the parish of Aghagallon as a whole?
Eunan Walsh: I think the success of St Ronan’s has had a positive impact on St Marys and the whole parish as everyone is talking about it. The success is something that we haven’t experienced before to the level of getting to a Hogan Cup Final which is huge for the players and I think that the Club and the whole community recognise that. I know that there is a large support going to the Final on Saturday from the Club and Parish and everyone wants to support the school. Aghagallon will keep on improving with the success of St Ronan’s but hopefully there will also be more successes for the club at all levels in years to come.
Paddy Mac: You were a member of the Antrim senior squad in 2016/17 prior to your injury. Are you over the Injury? Do you have ambitions of getting back into the Antrim panel?
Eunan Walsh: Yes, I broke my ankle in the Championship against St Teresa’s last year. I’m back playing again looking forward to the start of the league. Yes, I’ve ambitions to get back into the Antrim panel, I really enjoyed the experience last year, with it being my first year on the panel and do hope to get back in the future but at the moment I’m just looking forward to the start of the league with Aghagallon
Paddy Mac: Anything else you would like to add?
Eunan Walsh: I would like to wish Davy, Mickey, Collie and all the St Ronan’s team, especially the nine Aghagallon players, all the best in the Hogan Cup Final on Saturday.
The Saffron Gael would like to add their best wishes to St. Ronan’s and our fellow Antrim Gaels from St. Mary’s Aghagallon. We interviewed the management prior to the MacRory final and found them courteous and cooperative.
Good luck to all concerned on Saturday and bring the Hogan home!
The St. Mary’s Aghagallon players who were part of the St. Ronan’s Lurgan MacRory Cup success story looking forward to their day in Croke Park and hopefully Hogan Cup success.