St. Farnan's hoping to prosper in Rice Cup semi-final
By Damian Lawlor
Saturday is a crunch day in the Masita GAAPost Primary Schoolsseries with some intriguing fixtures, weather permitting, to be played out.
Its the business end of the Masita series and one of the games that fascinates most is the meeting of St Farnan's PP Prosperous and Ballybay Community College in theBr. Edmund Ignatius Rice Cup Senior D Football semi-final.
Ballybay are on the back of successive Ulster titles and Farnans desperate for a break on the national stage so there is much to play for.
The winners will face eitherDunmore Community School or Beara Community School, who meet in the other semi-final.
St. Farnans love affair with the GAA has been long and strong.
When Ray O Malley became Principal in the early 1960s, they developed into a major force in Kildare and Leinster in football, hurling and camogie. In the 70s and 80s St. Farnans won numerous titles in the three codes in Kildare with Frank Kilcoyne acting as football coach and Sean Clarke overseeing their hurling teams.
More success followed with Leinster titles in both codes in the 90s and, as they moved into the new millennium, Jo Bradshaw and Louise Kearns became the major promoters of Gaelic Games in the school.
Ciaran Murphy and current manager Denis Malone took the reins then, coaching the football teams towards the end of the noughties and are still developing teams up to present day.
The school has won several south Leinster titles at all age groups, reaching a Senior Leinster final in 2010 and an u16 Leinster title in 2015 and 2019, says current selector Sean Langton.
But we were unfortunate in defeat in an All-Ireland Semi Final two years ago in 2018.
There is always a desire to get back on the national stage and St. Farnans hope they can go a step further this Saturday.
Either way, however, they and their past pupils have already given great service back to their clubs and the wider GAA community in general, and the impact of the school around the locality and county is stronger than ever.
Many past pupils went on to represent Kildare in hurling, football and camogie, says Langton, including Pat Dunney, Tom Carew, Stacey Cannon, Joe Dempsey, Ryan Casey and Gillian Behan to name but a few.
Adrien McAndrew and Damien Behan were on the Kildare Panel that reached the All Ireland Final in 1998. Gavin Smullen won a Leinster u21 Championship in 2008. Evan Dempsey, like his father Joe, represented Ireland in shinty internationals.
The Ballybay Community College footballers celebrate after their Ulster title triumph.
St Farnans involvement on representative teams continues to this present day with Johnny Byrne on the Kildare senior football squad, Mark Grace and Liam Dempsey on the senior hurling team, and Mikaela McKenna on the Ladies football team.
Orlaith O' Mahony and Anna Price, two second year students, have also got intercounty Leinster medals to their name with Kildare LGFA Under 14s in 2019 while 6th year students Eoin Bagnall and Jamie O' Brien also tasted Leinster success with Kildare minors last year, Langton adds.
On a coaching front, former student Niall Carew managed Waterford and Sligo while also being a selector during Kieran McGeeneys time in charge of Kildare.
And what about the 2019-20 senior football side?
The Prosperous side took home the Leinster D Senior Football Title just last Monday afternoon when they ran out 2-16 to 2-5 winners over Colaiste Na Hinse in Dunganny.
St Farnans were always in control with goals in the first half coming from half back Rory Doran and full forward Jamie O'Brien as the Kildare School held a ten-point lead.
Centre Forward Kevin Campbell was influentialin driving his team into a 2-9 to 1-2 half time lead in difficult conditions and was assisted by Daniel Lynam, Eoin Bagnall, Moran, Colm Moran centre back with inside duoof Jamie O'Brien and Jack O'Brien all doing well.
Colaiste Na Hinse battled back in the second period but Farnans were never troubled and they can now look forward to an All-Ireland Semi Final with Ballybay of Monaghan on Saturday afternoon.
The challenge now, after several success at county and provincial level is to have the school in shining lights on the national stage.
It will be a test, however. The Kildare side tackleUlster champions, Ballybay Community College, who have landed the Schools Faul Cup for the second successive season. The Monaghan outfit defeated Baileborough Community School 1-13 - 1-7 earlier this week, retaining their U19D Ulster Faul cup title with six points to spare at the Peace Link in Clones on Monday evening.
Ballybay are a well-drilled side with the likes of Darragh Mc Elearney, Julius Sniauksta, Darragh Dempsey and Shane Slevin all fine players.
Once the weather permits and a venue is confirmed, both sides can fully focus in on trying to land a place in theBr. Edmund Ignatius Rice Cup final a huge carrot for these players as some come to the end of their school days.