Bunscoil Phobal Feirste lift the Raffo Cup

Allianz Cumann na mBunscol Aontroma Belfast Boys ‘A’ Championship. Raffo Cup Final.

Bunscoil Phobal Feirste 7-4 St Anne’s Primary School Belfast 1-8

A beautiful summer’s day at Rossa Park saw a blistering Allianz Cumann na mBunscol, Raffo Cup Final took place between Bunscoil Phobal Feirste and St Anne’s P.S. Belfast. Both teams had come through the same group and qualified for the semi-finals. The semi-finals saw St Anne’s pip St Ita’s by a point with Bunscoil Phobal Feirste seeing off a highly fancied St John the Baptist with 4 points to spare. St Anne’s edged a closely fought game between the two teams earlier in the group stage of the competition, but the Shaw’s Road Gaels were not to be denied in the final as they began the game with real intent, opening up a 7-point gap as they hit the ground running. Without their formidable midfielder, Ó Donabháin Rosa’s Codhrán Ó Rourke, who was absent with illness, the Bunscoil players redoubled their efforts and goals from Creggan Kickham’s Harry McKay and Naomh Gall’s Pádraig Kelly set the tone for Bunscoil and they did not let up, with further points from Kelly. St Anne’s replied with a couple of fine points from Jude Gamble. Bunscoil Phobal Feirste pushed further ahead and had opened up a 9-point gap before half time but a late goal for St Anne’s, with the last kick of the half from Aidan Holmes, saw them reduce the gap and go in 6 points in arrears at the short whistle.

Sean McKenna of Gaelfast presetn the Raffo Cup to joint captains, Pádraig Kelly from Naomh Gall and Odhrán Marley from Naomh Eoin.

A determined St Anne’s started the second half with great gusto and two successive points from Jude Gamble saw them reduce the deficit  to 4 points and it appeared to be ‘game on’ again. However, Bunscoil Phobal Feirste replied with some magnificent play, building from their kick-outs from outstanding Naomh Gall net-minder Emmet Hartigan, who found Creggan’s McKay with the long ball as well as Naomh Éanna’s Caoimhín McCaffrey with some great targeted short kickouts. Two further goals from the mercurial Kelly (who finished with a phenomenal personal tally of 5-4) and a late goal from Naomh Pól’s Seán Mc Mullan sealed the deal as a packed stand at Rossa Park erupted at the final whistle to see Bunscoil Phobal Feirste crowned Raffo Champions for a 3rd time in 10 years (this being their 6th final in that time), with this a very special occasion being on their school’s 50th anniversary, on a score line of 7-4 to 1-8. Credit to both school communities who brought busloads of huge and colourful support, with posters, drums and songs, making it a very special occasion worthy of the Raffo Cup Final.

Special thanks to Cumann na mBunscol Aontroma for the huge undertaking of organising fixtures, venues, referees and trophies/medals. And also to Gaelfast, who have been on-hand to help with the smooth running of Belfast Cumann na mBunscoil tournaments since the resumption of play this year.

Sean McKenna, the Gaelfast representative was on hand to present the the famous Raffo Cup to the victorious Bunscoil Phobal Feirste joint Captains, Pádraig Kelly from Naomh Gall and Odhrán Marley from Naomh Eoin. McKenna commented that “whilst the day belonged to Bunscoil Phobal Feirste, St Anne’s had played their part in the best game of Primary School Gaelic football I have ever seen” and that “Antrim football was a real winner today as well”.

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