It’s not too often school teams get the full VIP treatment but that’s exactly what the boys of Laurelhill Community College in Lisburn enjoyed this week.
Fresh from winning the Northern Ireland Senior Schools’ Cup for the first time in their history, the boys and their families attended a Civic reception hosted by Lisburn’s Lord Mayor, Allan Ewart, yesterday to mark their achievement.
A nail-biting penalty shoot-out success over St Columb’s. Londonderry brought the biggest schools’ competition back to Lisburn for the first time in 31 years.
Stuart Adams’ strike ensured a 1-1 draw for 10-man Laurelhill after 90 minutes and with never side able to force a winner, the showpiece went to spot-kicks.
Laurelhill keeper Gareth Deane pulled off a stunning save to deny St Columb’s’ seventh effort and Scott Larmour stepped up to coolly slot home the winning penalty to send their 200 supporters into raptures at Stangmore Park.
“It was a magnificent achievement from all the boys because we were definitely the underdogs,” said Laurelhill coach, Noel McKnight. “St Columb’s haven’t been beaten in five years and we had never been to the final before so I can’t pay enough tribute to all the players.
“It was a fantastic team effort; they worked so hard for each other and got their reward having played seven games to win the trophy. This same team lost in the semi-final to St Columb’s four years ago so I’m sure this made up for that.
“The boys also played in special shirts for the day thanks to our sponsor, Keyhole Surgery Locksmiths and our former pupil, Andy Wilson so we are very grateful to him for that memento also.”