Sunday Times Secondary School of the Year 2023

St. Mary's Grammar School

St. Mary’s Grammar School, Magherafelt lift inaugural Ulster University 7-a-side tournament.

Placed in a tough qualifying group with St. Colman’s, Newry and St. Patrick’s Academy, Dungannon, the St. Mary’s boys adapted to the game seamlessly and progressed to a quarter final where they would meet St. Eunan’s, Letterkenny. 

Dominating from the early stages, with strong performances all-round, goals from Conhuir Johnston, Sean Byrne and Paul Duffin, set up a semi-final against the ‘Red High’, Downpatrick.

With James Gribben again showing his versatility as a traditional goalkeeper and a ‘sweeper’ using runners like Sean Byrne and John Lavery on kickouts, and utilising Luke Burn’s aerial ability, the rest of the team were able to manage the game and progress to the showpiece final where they would again meet St. Patrick’s, Dungannon.

In a thrilling final that tested the endurance of both sets of players, our boys won with four goals – Conhuir Johnston with two, Richard Drain and John Lavery with one each – and crucial points from Joshua Cassidy and Ronan Mawhinney, our boys were able to see the final minute of the game out with composure.

In the first minute of the first game, Ruairi Forbes sustained a nasty shoulder injury which required hospital treatment. This left the squad with one player less than all of our opponents and made the win even more remarkable. We wish Ruairi a speedy recovery and hope to see him back to his brilliant best as soon as possible.

The staff and students involved from St. Mary’s Grammar School, were very grateful to Ulster University for their hospitality and provision of what was a very successful tournament for all concerned.