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Wilson's latest glory day gives young stars the right to revel in their new identity

Scrap: St Ronan’s Aaron McCreanon battles Dominic McAteer
Scrap: St Ronan’s Aaron McCreanon battles Dominic McAteer

By Declan Bogue

Historians of Armagh football would never forget the name of Davy Wilson.

A member of the 1999 Ulster Championship winning side, here he was in the Athletic Grounds tunnel flanked by young sons Eoin and Conal, two boys who looked in that particular moment as if they can't wait to get up to big school.

Wilson won an Ulster minor in 1994 as well and reflected: "There's experiences we can pass on through teams like that. We just hope the boys enjoy today, enjoy the fact they have won a MacRory Cup, but it has to be a stepping stone towards something with Antrim or Armagh, and we have the Hogan before all of that.

"We would love to see them kicking on."

Something like this gives a school population - of something in the region of 1,600 in an urban area - a real sense of identity and allows a tradition to mould. It's not something Wilson was shying away from either.

"In terms of identity, I think the football aspect, when you are bringing three schools together, it is extremely difficult for management to do that," he conceded.

"There are three different sites, we are down to two now and the third is being knocked down at present to be built up as the new school.

"So the football gives the players a sense of identity as St Ronan's as opposed to the separate identities that they once were, so the football is massive in that regard."

As the students celebrated and players trooped wearily yet happy down the tunnel, Wilson caught himself in the moment and exclaimed: "It's fantastic. It's a good (management) team, myself, Mickey Donnelly and Collie Fegan and we are all dreaming of this and working hard together. And these lads are a pleasure to work with and generally the school lads are a pleasure to work with every year.

"They love football, they love getting out to train and there is no issue with them. It's just managing the way you want them to play, in terms of themselves, they just love being together."

The new school is due to open in 2020 but, by then, they will have a few pictures already framed and ready to take up pride of place along the corridors.

For opposing selector, Ronan Devlin, his emotion was all too raw.

"We are just very, very disappointed. There was more in us to win that game," he said.

"It was one of those days when nothing was going. They were physical, physicality was on their side and we lost Tiarnach Donaghy in training the other day - our midfielder, the battering ram of our team.

"He went to kick a ball in training and the hamstring popped. And he is distraught. It was an awful blow because he is a big unit of a man and we had to rob Peter to pay Paul then all over the rest of the pitch."

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