Neighbours set to do battle in School's Cup Final
While the boys of De La Salle prepare for the St Patrick's Day Belfast School's Senior cup final against local rivals St Mary's, the school has its eye on a bigger prize.
Since the school relocated they have been without outdoor sports facilities, meaning they must rent from other school's to fulfil their sporting fixtures. The west Belfast secondary school are now campaigning for a scrap of wasteland near their premises to be transformed into a modern sporting facility, which will include a 3G pitch.
PE Teacher and football coach Stephen Killyleagh said: “At the moment we don't have a ground of our own, which means we have been training indoors and hiring pitches for games, which as you can imagine is expensive and awkward.
“We're hoping to secure some land beside the school and develop it into sports facilities for the school. It would be a huge boost for the school and for the local area. At the moment the land is basically a bog that attracts some anti-social behaviour.
“We've a big opportunity to turn it into something great for the kids.”
In Monday's cup final De La Salle face St. Mary's at New Grosvenor, Ballyskeagh (12.45pm). With the schools less than a mile apart, a derby atmosphere is expected.
Killyleagh said: “There is a good wee buzz in the area because a lot of the players know each other. There has always been a rivalry between the two clubs, with one being a grammar school and the other a secondary school, so everybody is looking forward to it.
“All the boys know each other from local club football so there has bit of banter going on, but it's all good natured. Hopefully it will make for a great game.”
Killyleagh believes the game will be a good experience for the De La Salle boys.
“We're looking forward to the game. We've probably had teams with more talented individuals at the school, but this is a team that works hard for each other.
“As a team, we've scored plenty of goals but we've let in a few too.
“Obviously we want to win the game, but it's also about making the day memorable for the kids. Some of them will go on to play at a higher level, but for a lot of these lads this will be the biggest game they ever play in, so we want to make a fuss about them for the day so they've got positive memories to take into adulthood.
“For the lads who go on to play in the Irish League, or wherever, playing in front of a crowd of a few hundred people will be an experience that will stand them in good stead.”
De La Salle will be hoping to lift the trophy for the eighth time, while St. Mary's last won the competition in 2011 thanks to a hat-trick from now Liverpool player Ryan McLaughlin.
St Mary's can boast of a 100% record at the final stage. They began their campaign with a 2-0 win away to Model and then overcame Our Lady and St. Patrick's College, champions for the past two years, 3-2. They defeated Ballyclare High by the same score before turning on the style in the semi final to trounce Colaiste Feirste 4-1.
Belfast Telegraph Digital