Pupils from Ashfield Boys’ School were celebrating international GAA success last week when they returned victorious from Philadelphia after winning the Under-16 Hurling Continental Youth Championship.
Cross-community hurling team Belfast Cuchulainns lifted the trophy after coming through the North American underage GAA showpiece competition unbeaten.
The hurling team, which is made-up of players from four Belfast schools — Ashfield Boys’, Boys' Model, Corpus Christi and St Patrick's — were competing in the games for the first time.
The Continental Youth Championships took place over three days and pitted the Belfast side against teams from New York and a combined side made-up of players from Chicago, San Francisco and Boston.
Cuchulainns came through the round robin group unbeaten and then faced the New York side again in the final, securing a convincing win by 3-12 to 1-5.
The squad spent three days in New York before visiting Washington where they were hosted at Capital Hill by Congressmen Joseph Crowley and Jim Walsh. The team were also guests of honour at a reception at the Irish Embassy hosted by Deputy Ambassador Tim O’Connor.
Andy McMorran, principal of Ashfield Boys’ School, praised the project: “This has been an outstanding initiative which has given all the boys involved with the team the opportunity to see America and develop new friendships.
“All the lads and the adults involved in the project have developed a strong bond over the past year and it has been an excellent educational experience for all of us.”
St Patrick's College principal PJ O'Grady added: “The lads gelled really well and hurled brilliantly. They were excellent and they deserved to win it. The whole spirit of the venture was beyond my expectation and the fact that we won was the icing on the cake.”
GAA president Nickey Brennan presented the trophy jointly to captain Stephen Hamilton of Ashfield Boys’ and Martin Lowry of St Patrick's College.