I’m grateful to FJH for alerting me to this year’s winners of the IFA Schools Cup (ERM, MAKE THAT a successful defence of the BELFAST SENIOR CUP). [check your sources boy!! - Ed]
Let’s just say it would be a surprise to the class of 78 that the old St Patricks College won anything sporty (scroll down the comments at FJH’s for more detail on that).
It’s not that much of a surprise they’re playing decent soccer at my old stomping ground so much as they are also affiliated with the Ulster Branch of the IRFU. And they are far from the only avowedly Catholic school in Northern Ireland that are.
In fact the affiliation list runs from St Colman’s in Newry to the Pobal Scoil na Rosainn in Dungloe, and even St Columba’s down the road in Glenties. Literally from sea to shining, erm, ocean…
The great success of both the Irish national team and the provincial sides has to have been a factor in its growing popularity. It’s also possible that for many young sportsmen it is proving to be more viable route into professional sport.
Whatever the empirical driver is it’s excellent progress in breaking down old cultural habits and resistances.