WITH EIGHT MEMBERS of the Galway senior hurling panel that are in action in today’s All-Ireland final having passed through their doors, it is a special occasion for St Brigid’s (Loughrea).
The East Galway secondary school has always had a strong tradition in the game, as principal Sean Connolly explains.
“It’s an exciting time for everyone in the school, both the students and the teachers. St Brigid’s would always be renowned as a successful hurling school. We’re fortunate that we live in an area where hurling is the dominant sport. Eight of the guys that are on the senior panel are past pupils of the school.
“We’re thrilled and hopefully things will work well. David Burke, his brother Darragh, Johnny Coen Joseph Cooney, Davy Glennon, Paul Huban, Niall Healy and James Skehill are all former students. Mattie Kenny the coach is a former student as well.”
“There’s lots of famous Galway hurling names who have gone to the school. Seamus Coleman played on the 1980 Galway All-Ireland winning team. Tommy Coen, Johnny’s father, played for Galway. Fergal Healy, Richie Murray, Derek Hardiman, David Tierney and Kenneth Burke are some of the others. Lots of lads have been involved really at different levels for Galway teams.”
The Galway squad does not just possess former pupils of the school but also two recent additions to the staff.
“David Burke and Johnny Coen both started as teachers here in Woodwork and Metalwork,” says Connolly. “They’re employed by Galway VEC. They’re keeping the head down the last few weeks but there has been a great buzz around the place. Having the two guys in the staff obviously generates huge interest and excitement.”
The hurling tradition is maintained with recent successes like St Brigid’s All-Ireland vocational senior hurling triumph last year.
“That was a great victory,” admits Connolly. “We’d five of the Galway minor team who were defeated by Tipperary in the All-Ireland semi-final recently, that are students here at the moment – Darragh Donoghue, Eanna Burke, Brian Molloy, Darragh Dolan and Jamie Ryan.
“We’re lucky in that we’re living in an area that’s surrounded by very strong hurling clubs. The hard work is being done by them and we’re also lucky in the school that we’ve a core of teachers who are hugely interested in GAA. They put in great work to give the guys a platform to go on to play on a national stage.
“Hurling is the main sport here in south-east Galway. You’ve the Loughrea club in the town itself, then Kilnadeema-Leitrim, Sarsfields, Craughwell, St Thomas, Tynagh-Abbey-Duniry and Mullagh who are all strong hurling clubs. The clubs are then strong because of the work that is done at grassroots level. They play hurling in national schools and then come here where they play hurling or camogie. We play at a high level and it’s great for the school community.”