ST CIARAN’S College Ballygawley have been named Post-Primary School of the Year at the recent Irish News School, Club and Volunteers Awards.
The Post-Primary School Award celebrates the efforts of schools who have gone above and beyond to promote Gaelic Games.
The judges praised the pupils of St Ciaran's for their all-inclusive approach.
“All of their pupils enjoy a broad range of GAA activities involving coaching, refereeing and participation in the codes of Handball, Hurling, Camogie and Gaelic football,” the judges said.
“They ensure that all their pupils wanting to play are on the panel, they wear the school jersey and they operate a development squads structure believing that from ‘small acorns tall oak trees grow’ giving all the opportunity to play.”
Pupil Darren McCann said: “We have 11 clubs in our area, covering two counties, but we are still one family in the school. That’s our way of thinking.
“In terms of in school, we do our utmost to be inclusive and we ensure that everyone who wants to play football can get to play football.
“We have development squads which allow everyone to play, because as we said in our application form: “From small acorns, tall oak trees grow.” Not everybody is going to be there from the start, but they can develop.”
McCann spoke highly of the dedication of the staff, who routinely go that extra mile to facilitate the development of each pupil.
“It is the work around the school, you’ve got several departments helping out. It’s not just PE, there are a lot of teachers giving up their time, with morning sessions, lunchtime and afternoon sessions, and even over holidays as well.
“It’s just a support network in the school and fortunately we have been successful in school and hopefully that can continue, through the hard work of all the staff and the students as well.”
The awards didn’t end there for the school, as pupil Jack McNelis walked away a double winner from a prize draw at the event, scooping a specially designed Irish News O’Neills jersey, as well as two tickets to the Ulster Championship final.
Darren said: “Jack was very lucky. Jack is actually a keen golfer as well, and he will thoroughly enjoy going to an Ulster final. Hopefully a final between Tyrone and Armagh, but we’d take Cavan too!”