THE students of St Dominic’s Grammar School for Girls have won a dramatic All-Ireland ‘C’ Junior Girls Basketball final, completing a bumper year of sporting success which saw the school pick up six major titles across a range of sports.
Having secured the North Eastern Region title, they entered the All-Ireland stages for the first time. Backed by a vociferous coachload of travelling supporters, the team travelled to the National Basketball Arena in Dublin to face Carrigtwohill Community College, from County Cork.
The game itself started slowly for the St Dominic’s side and they went into the second quarter trailing 16-0 but the introduction of Ireland squad member Aoibheann Donnelly transformed the match and by the half-time interval they led 22-19. The third and fourth quarters were a much tighter affair with the game ebbing and flowing between the two sides. As the time ticked down the West Belfast team trailed by two points before Erin Stewart released the ball and equalised, sending the final into overtime. The extra period saw the two sides evenly matched, tied on 32 points as the time slipped away. St Dominic’s Anna Rice received the ball on the outside of the three-point line and watched as her long range effort sailed into the basket, securing victory and sparking wild celebrations among the travelling support.
Coach Miss Yvonne Murphy paid tribute to the team.
“The girls really stepped up to the big occasion," she said. "It was an all round team performance and will live long in the memories of them all.”
Head of PE, Mrs Deirdre Cassidy, added: “Miss Murphy has been great with the team. She has built on the grassroots nature of basketball to develop it in the school. The girls worked so hard and deserve to savour their success. It’s yet another addition to the growing range of sports in which we can offer the students the opportunity to participate in, and as this year has shown, enjoy sporting success.”
The school certainly has the trophies to back up Mrs Cassidy’s words.
In January the newly formed U19 camogie team, led by Miss Maeve Cassidy, were convincing winners in the Rosina McManus Competition. Camogie has gone from strength to strength at the school with teams fielding across all age groups.
And in Netball, inspired by Coach of the Year Laura Lovett, there was success for the Junior and Intermediate squads. The Junior squad won a momentous double, beating Friends School Lisburn in the league finals and following up with a 18-12 victory over Aquinas in the Junior Cup final. Incredibly, three of this squad are in the NI Under-17 development squad with Anna Rice making her debut in the European U-17 competition.
Not to be outdone, the Intermediate netball team also took the top spot with a stirring comeback against a very strong Wallace side. Going into the last quarter, they found themselves down by four goals but rallied to win after Anna Christy won a penalty in the dying seconds that was converted by Anna Rice.
The final title of the year went to the newly formed Handball team with Fiona Shannon guiding the girls and the school to their first Ulster Schools’ Handball title.
Mrs Cassidy added: “Sport in St Dominic’s is thriving. We have lots of girls competing at the highest level in our many Gaelic football teams, athletics, soccer and swimming. It’s a credit to the pupils and staff who continue to give up their time to ensure that it continues to do so.
"Coming back from the Covid-19 pandemic, we were worried about the mental and physical well-being of our pupils. It is safe to say that they are in good hands in St Dominic’s.”