Well done and congratulations to everyone who took part in this year’s Mountain Race which took place yesterday on Kilmashogue Mountain. Introduced in 2018, to celebrate the College’s long-standing running tradition, this is a now an annual event with the winners being awarded a perpetual trophy engraved with their name. The course follows the Wicklow Way for 4 km, starting in Kilmashogue car park, before returning along the same route and back to the starting point, totalling 8 km (5 miles). We are blessed to have so many wonderful trails around us.

Eighteen runners took part this year. Hughie Casey recorded a hattrick of victories in beating his old record by 27 seconds in an outstandingly fast time of 28 minutes 50 seconds, with Archie McKeever in second place in 31:43.

Two girls beat Thea Clare’s record of 38:03. Oleana Cowan ran the course in 37:37 and Alannah McCoole took the victory in 36:20 beating the old record by 1 minute 43 seconds.

Thanks to Mr Gibbs for driving the bus, Chaplain Owen for taking some great photographs, Mr Duffy for recording the half way stage and Mrs Canning for providing the water and a bucket of recovery jellies.

Friday 17th of May is the 4th time St. Columba’s have run this event. We increased the field to include 4th as well as 5th and 6th class entrants. In total, we had thirty two entrants from nine local schools. The positive energy and excitement was palpable as were some understandable nerves. It was great to see young like minded people playing competitively, sharing a day of fun, camaraderie and competition while making new connections.

The Lionel Munn trophy goes to the combined better ball team of two. This year was again very close with two teams on a combined nine hole gross score of 40 (4 over par). Holy Cross School Dundrum’s team of Taegun Lee and James Cummins won on a final six hole count back from Whitechurch National School’s Alex O’Herlihy and Joshua Cron. Taegun Lee had the day’s best individual gross score of 41 (5 over par).

Scoil Naomi Pádraig Ballyroan’s Ella Byrne won the individual girl’s prize with a 62 gross score and Whitechurch National School’s Alex O’Herlihy’s 42 gross score secured him the individual boy’s prize.

Very well done to all participating schools and players; their parents, accompanying teachers and the well maintained and conditioned St. Columba’s golf course. Thank you also to Kilmashogue Golf Club for facilitating this competition and the use of their clubhouse facilities.

The day would not have been possible without the administrative input of Lorna Wynne, Ian O’Herlihy and our resident PGA professional Josh Adams. The accompanying teachers and parents certainly deserve a mention as they are the ones that take on the tasks of driving, waiting around and supporting their young charges and children. Also thank you to the Warden for presenting the prizes.

The Senior girls’ basketball team recently won the East Leinster Regional Final and have qualified for the All-Ireland competition, to be played in the New Year. They defeated a strong Luttrellstown Community School side in that final, with brilliant performances from captain Abbie MurrayAyodeji Ediale, Molly Mann and Laia Perich-Godo. See a full match report here.

The Senior rugby team’s excellent run in the McMullen Cup sadly came to an end on Wednesday after a 12-15 loss to St. Mary’s Drogheda. It was a hugely competitive game with two great tries from Gavin O’Dowd and Aaron Murray, and SCC almost snatched it at the death. The Junior rugby team’s cup run ended early too with defeat against Salesian College Celbridge, despite a four-try scoring performance from David Cron. Our Form I boys played in a highly competitive game against Wilson’s Hospital recently.

In boys’ hockey, our Senior XI had some good wins over High School and Temple Carrig and a narrow loss to Kilkenny College, while the Junior XI had strong victories over Temple Carrig and Kilkenny College. The girls’ teams have also had a good run recently, with big wins over East Glendalough, Sutton Park and Our Lady’s Grove for the Senior XI team, who actually remain unbeaten in their League this season. With one game remaining, they have already qualified for the league quarter-final. The Minor A girls have also qualified for their league quarter-finals; both games will be played in the New Year.

In golf, we wish Form V pupil Danielle Daniy the best of luck as she competes the school at the ‘Golf Mad Junior Open’ in Turkey this week. Danielle is one of the members of our Golf Academy.

Our senior girls have gone from strength to strength this year, led by a strong core of Form VI pupils –  Abbie Murray (Captain), Sarah Cron, Raichael Murray, Elisa Bulla, and Lauren Ng. Their hard work and effort were rewarded last week (during exams) with a comprehensive semi-final win over Holy Child Killiney. They then took to the floor a week later on Wednesday 29th November, in the East Region Final at the Oblate Hall in Inchicore against a team they had already met during the league campaign – Luttrellstown Community School. 

The nerves were obvious in the early stages of the game, but they took a 9-2 lead in the first quarter with Holly Murray controlling the tempo and Laia Perich-Godo setting the pace with some excellent lay-ups. Luttrellstown fought back with some nice long-range shooting and the quarter ended 10-8.

The second quarter got off to a shaky start. The team’s offensive play was smooth with excellent ball moving, creating many easy scoring opportunities, but we could not finish. The lead was maintained through tough defense with an ending score 19-12. 

The steadiness of team-play and overall confidence continued to build as the game progressed. Team defense was the decider on the day, fluid moving and talking limited Luttrellstown’s offense options to long-range shots. Sarah Cron, Elisa Bulla, AJ Ediale, and Abbie Murray were all excellent under the boards pulling down strong defensive rebounds, which ignited the fast break. The third quarter saw a surge in focus and energy from the girls. Molly Mann was inspirational with her tough aggressive defense, and tenacious drives to the basket. AJ Ediale was superb from the free-throw line and the third quarter ended with a 33-24 comfortable lead.

Luttrellstown started the 4th quarter with a full-court press and the team took a few minutes to adjust to the pressure, making a number of silly turnovers, which luckily did not result in any scores. Once they regained composure, Holly Murray took to the helm and pushed the ball upcourt, creating numerous scoring opportunities with Molly Mann, AJ Ediale, Laia Perich, and Sarah Cron hitting some impressive scores.

The last four minutes of the game were dominated by strong defensive play, Raichael Murray and Molly Mann worked hard to contain their key shooter. With 2 minutes to go, Henrike Tertilt made an impressive steal and followed it up with a super long-range past to Giulia Trolese for an easy 2 points and ending with the team notching up a 20-8 score line in the 4th for a 49-30 victory.

The entire team worked as a unit, with everyone stepping up and making excellent contributions are various stages throughout the game. This was the first time we had reached this level of competition and winning the title, well that was the icing on the cake.

Laia Perich-Godo (24pts), Molly Mann (6pts), Aj Ediale (6pts), Abbie Murray (3pts), Holly Murray (4pts), Sarah Cron (2pts), Giulia Trolese (2pts), Safia Walker (2pts), Raichael, Murray, Elisa Bulla, Lauren Ng (Illness, DNP)

It’s been another busy term of sport, briefly disrupted by some recent heavy rain. In rugby, the Senior XV have started their league campaign reasonably well with comfortable victories over De la Salle Churchtown and St. Conleth’s but they’ll rue missed opportunities in their narrow loss to a strong Newpark side at home. The JCT XV have struggled with injuries and a lack of depth, sadly losing their three league games to date. Their captain David Cron has been their star player and he donned the Leinster colours recently for the Metro Under-16s. Our youngest pupils in Form I had a great victory on Wednesday over Mount Temple.

In basketball, the Senior girls have made a strong start to their season with three impressive league and Cup wins. Yesterday, they hosted Naas Community School in the All-Ireland Cup quarter-finals, sadly losing narrowly. The Cadette girls and Seniors boys are mid-table; the Cadettes had impressive wins over Luttrellstown and Loreto Beaufort while the boys’ most recent successes were wins over St. Mary’s College and Terenure College.

Our boys’ hockey teams have started the season really strongly, with some very impressive wins for our Under-13s and Under-14s in recent weeks. The Junior XI have been going exceptionally well, winning all their matches so far except for a narrow defeat to St. Andrew’s. Jan Dijkstra is a goal-scoring machine! Our Senior XI were unlucky to miss out on All-Ireland qualification but have had some good wins since, most notably a 8-0 win over St Kilian’s. A busy programme of girls’ hockey continued; the Minor and Junior Girls’ teams had some good performances while the Senior XI’s best win (4-0) came against East Glendalough.

We were delighted to welcome Irish golfing legend and former Ryder Cup player and captain Paul McGinley to the College yesterday to officially launch the St. Columba’s College Golf Academy and open our new state-of-the-art indoor golf studio. Paul toured the new indoor studio, practised his putting and hit some balls on the new golf simulator. Afterwards, he attended an intimate function in Whispering House and took questions from those in attendance.

The Golf Academy now have a fantastic indoor facility to match our evolving practice area (new greens under construction) and of course our amazing nine-hole golf course. Josh Adams, our resident PGA professional, has created a vibrant programme for our young golfers along with teachers Ian O’Herlihy and Liam Canning.

We were also delighted to welcome to the school representatives from five local golf clubs Kilmashogue, Stackstown, Rathfarnham, Grange and Edmondstown. The school is surrounded by fantastic golf courses (the five listed are all within walking distance, with Kilmashogue GC based on the College course) and our young academy golfers will get a chance to play them all over the course of the year.

You can find out more about golf at St. Columba’s here and check out the photos from the event below.

The College’s young golfers recently competed in the Leinster Secondary School’s Under 19 Golf Championship, after an absence of nearly twenty years. This is a gross score singles and team event held last Monday in nearby Stackstown Club. Each team comprised of four players with the better three scores counting for the team score. Due to illness, a key player had to withdraw late putting added pressure on our other three players Harry Smith Huskinson (5th Form), Rafael Martinez Tavio (Third Form) and Mateo Munoz-Rogas Salinas (in the First Form and the youngest competitor at twelve years of age). Rafael and Mateo had an impressive gross stableford score of 27 points, making them tied 26th out of 113 competitors; Harry, our team Captain, scored a creditable 24 points in 46th place. 

St. Columba’s was placed 16th out of the 39 competing school teams.

Josh Adams, our PGA professional and Golf Academy leader, was justifiably very proud of our young players who were playing the course for the first time.

Leinster Schools U19 Results Stackstown Golf Club.

This year’s St. Columba’s College ‘Lionel Munn’ Golf Trophy for Primary Schools was played in gorgeous sunshine and with the course in tip-top condition. It was great to see young people playing competitively, sharing a day of fun, camaraderie and competition.

Last year Whitechurch National School lost out to Our Lady’s Grove on a countback after both teams had a 39 Gross Score. Whitechurch entered two teams this year and bounced back securing both first and second-place team positions. Tyler Neill and Olly Conn had a creditable five over par better ball gross score of 42. This year’s winning Whitechurch National School team of Alex O’Herlihy and Joshua Cron had a level-par better ball score of 37. This excellent performance is one that the great Lionel Munn would have enjoyed watching. There were also some notable individual performances including Alex O’Herlihy’s 38 and Tyler Neill’s 48 gross scores.

Very well done to all participating schools and players; their parents, accompanying teachers and the well-maintained and conditioned St.Columba’s golf course.

The day could not have happened without the help of my colleague Ian O’Herlihy who laid out the T-boxes and designed the scorecards. Very many thanks to Brendan Blake of Kilmashogue Golf Club for generously giving his time to walk and guide players around the nine holes. The College Academy’s PGA professional Josh Adams also supported and helped run the day. It was great to see so many smiling and positive young faces enjoying the day, meeting new like-minded people and playing our wonderful game of golf.

There was more sporting success this term, with our cricketers reaching three league finals and plenty of individual success for our young athletes too.

The Senior Boys’ Cricket XI took on CUS in the Leinster League final a few weeks ago; it was the first time since 2012 that they reached this point in the competition and SCC last won in 1976. Sadly, they lost out to a strong CUS team who scored 191-7 off 40 overs, with Isaac Dijkstra taking three wickets during SCC’s innings. Isaac, along with his brother Sebastian and Harry St. Leger were selected for the Leinster Schoolboys’ Cricket Development XI who took on the MCC last week. The Form I girls and the Senior Girls’ 2nds both reached their respective finals but sadly missed out on the trophy. The Form I girls were defeated by just 9 runs against a strong Kings Hospital team while the Senior 2nds(pictured above) lost out to a strong Rathdown side in their final.

In athletics, there was success for our young athletes at the East Leinster and Leinster championships in recent weeks. David Cron (triple jump) and Gabriel Murphy (3km walk) took gold at the East Leinsters, came in the top three in Leinster and will now compete in the national finals, which begin today in Tullamore.

Well done to Georgia Goodbody who became Waszp Irish Female National Champion having fought off stiff competition in the Waszp National Championships (the Waszp is a single-handed hydrofoiling yacht that rises out of the water reaching speeds of 28 knots).

In equestrian news, congratulations to Amber Cotton who came second in the Poneys de Grand Prix Fontainebleau in France recently. Also, the best of luck to Oleana Cowen and Daniel Moran, representing Ireland in an international eventing tournament in Millstreet Cork; the event kicked off yesterday.

The album below contains a selection of sports photos from right throughout the year – it’s been a bumper year for Columban sport.

The College’s annual Sports Day always brings colour, energetic competition, a whole lot of fun and, occasionally, even sunshine. This year’s event was no different, with almost every pupil competing across a range of sports and games. There was a competitive edge of course, with the four teams hoping that they will come out on top. In the end, it was the red team that took the glory (and the ice-creams) but sport and fun were the real winners. Many thanks to all the staff who took part and helped with the event but a particular mention must go to the team captains and Mr Havenga, for his organisation of the day. Some of the notable wins at this year’s Sports Day were:

Cloister Dash – Boys: Tom Larke, Girls: Felicitas Boecking

Mountain Run – Boys: Hughie Casey, Girls: Hannah Bergmann

Later that evening, the annual Sports Dinner took part. This event celebrates the achievements of individual pupils but also the College teams. After a tremendously successful season across all codes, it was brilliant to sit down and reflect on such a great year of sport. We were deloghted to welcome Bernard Jackman, former Ireland, Leinster and Connacht rugby player and former coach to Grenoble and the Dragons. Bernard spoke about sport to the assembled pupils and coaching staff before presenting awards and colour to pupils. Some notable awards presented on the evening include:

Girls Hockey Club Person of the Year: Ayodeji Ediale.

Basketball Club Person of the Year: Dishuo Chen

Tennis: Boys’ Singles – August Schoen, Girls’ Singles- Sarah Cron

The highlight of the Sports Dinner is the awarding of ‘colours’ – an honour which acknowledges the exceptional contribution pupils have made to College sports. And, finally, the Sports Person of the Year, for both boys and girls, was annouced. Colours were awarded to the following pupils for 2022/2023:

Colours

Boys’ Basketball: George King and Stephen Kou

Cricket: Carl Kerenski, Caleb Owen, Marco Trolese

Boys’ Hockey: Johannes Pabsch, Tyrone Shi, Marco Trolese, Cristoph Geyer

Girls’ Hockey: Elys Walker

Rugby: Solomon Babajide, Tommy Casado, Kieran Ovenden, Caleb Owen, Ben Patterson, Marco Trolese.

Sports Persons of the Year

Boys: Caleb Owens and Marco Trolese, ex aequo
Girls: Abbie Murray

Team of the Year

Senior Boys Rugby

Below is a selection of photos from both the Sports Day and Sports Dinner.

On April 17th, the Minor Girls Basketball team, along with Coach David Doran, participated in the first round of the AIl-Ireland play-offs. The event saw 18 schools from around the country competing for quarterfinal spots. The opponents on the day were the North East league winners  Colaiste Na Hinse, Meath, and Midlands Runners-up St.Pauls, Monestervein. It was very unfortunate that the competition took place during our Easter break and a number of girls were unable to participate due to family commitments. Despite this, we still had a strong team and the girls performed admirably and were highly competitive in both games. Overall an excellent experience and a fantastic achievement to get to this level in the competition. A huge thank you to all the parents who helped with transport and were there to support us on the day.

The Senior Rugby Team have won the inaugural Ian McKinley Cup, presented to the winners of the reestablished Metro Senior League (Section A). Ian McKinley, one of the College’s greatest ever sportsmen, presented the team with their trophy – fitting for both Ian and the College.

League or cup finals can often be anticlimactic, nervous affairs with low scores. All the signs pointed to the opposite as the weather was fine, the pitch was firm and the referee was clear that he was looking for a free-flowing game. St. Columba’s didn’t disappoint, producing a scintillating 35 minutes of rugby in the opening half.

As the referee’s whistle signalled the start of the game, there didn’t seem to be any nerves on show as St Columba’s came out firing. After a solid scrum, Nikolai Foster fed Tommy Casado and he set the backs away as he has done all season with a well timed skip pass to Marco Trolese who drew his man and used soft hands to send Kieran Ovenden sprinting through the Newpark defence and under the posts. Kieran then added the extras for a 7-0 lead after just two minutes.

Newpark looked to build into the game from the kick off but they gave away a couple of penalties which Kieran Ovenden expertly placed into touch. The second of which set up a great opportunity just 6 metres outs. Some deception at the lineout with a dummy jump by Aaron Murray and a perfectly placed throw from Ben Patterson into Caleb Owen set the foundation for a maul which drove towards the line for Ned Chambre to touch down for a 12-0 lead.

From the kick off, Columba’s uncharacteristically attacked from deep against coaches orders. It proved to be the right decision as Aubrey Gardner who was destructive all day, carried hard and through the Newpark defence; he appeared in open country and beat another defender and sprinted into the Newpark half, before drawing the full back and setting Thomas Dwyer free with a 40 metre race to the line which he won with metres to spare for a 17-0 lead after just 10 minutes.

Newpark finally got the ball in their hands following the kick off and started to put some pressure on. Some indiscipline from Columba’s gifted them a number of opportunities and despite some very good defence from Cameron McKinley, Noah Kutner and Bene Huessen in particular, Newpark managed to scramble over from close range. They added the conversion to cut the lead to 10.  Some words of encouragement from coaches Alex Lee and Conor Anderson under the posts seemed to remind the team about the game plan. From the kick off the game calmed a little and we settled well into our system with some big carries from captain Solomon Babajide and Ben Patterson. Another solid maul was set up after Aaron Murray soared to claim yet another lineout and Newpark could do nothing but illegally pull it down to stop an almost certain try, The resulting tap penalty saw Caleb Owen carry well into three Newpark defenders. This meant there was space out wide which the backs identified and slick hands saw Marco Trolese crash over for our 4th try wide on the left. Kieran added the conversion for a 24-7 lead.

The resulting kick off saw one of the most amazing pieces of individual skill, power and determination many have seen in a green and white shirt. Caleb Owen recieved what looked like a simple crash ball, but he refused to be stopped by the two Newpark defenders and barged through the defensive line. He continued past another defender, before being tripped by a committed tackle, only to bounce back to his feet and beat another would be tacker, before eventually being dragged down 70 metres from where he received the initial pass. This set us up with a great opportunity, one which the backs spotted and Aaron Murray‘s well timed pass set Marco Trolese up; but he still had work to do to outpace the last defender as he dived in near the right touchline. Kieran Ovenden used the post and crossbar to get the ball over and add the extra 2 points for a 31-7 lead just before the end of the first half.

Despite playing with the wind in the second half, we couldnt add to our half time score, Newpark came with some skill and powerful carries and added a try after 15 minutes, to keep it interesting. Monty Walsh, Georg Wachs, Pablo Shavlov were brought on and added speed and power. Gavin O’Dowd‘s passing was accurate and allowed Aubrey Gardner to once again break free, his offload, unfortunately, didn’t stick for Camilo Nordmann for what would have been a try to remember. Newpark came firing again late on to add another try, but it was too little too late and as the final whistle went the party began!

It was a fantastic achievement to win the first ever  Ian McKinley Cup, made all the more special having Ian’s nephew Cameron on the winning team! They were cheered on the majority of the pupils and staff in the school and by Tom Larke, who represented Ireland U19’s last week against Japan but was unavailable for the league decider. Congratulations to Solomon and his team, the coaching team of Hein Havenga, Alex Lee, Conor Anderson, Will Gibbs, Ian O’Herlihy and team logistics manager Charlie Poole.

Below is a photo album from the game, courtesy of Rev Owen.

The Senior Boys’ Hockey team had a fantastic win in their Trophy final against Kilkenny College this week, bringing home some well-deserved silverware to the College.

The 3-2 victory saw the team win the Leinster Trophy for the first time since 2014 and the third time since its inception in 2010.  The team dominated the first quarter, scoring two goals as well as creating a number of other chances but some excellent saves from the Kilkenny goalkeeper kept them in touch going into the second quarter.  The first goal was a well-taken short corner by Christoph Geyer with a well-directed slap. The second goal came from a good cross into a crowded circle. Joon Schultheis received the ball and manoeuvred himself into space to shoot evading the attention of a number of Kilkenny defenders. He finished with an excellent flick past the keeper and into the net.

In the second quarter, Columba’s were a bit flat, perhaps thinking that the job was done. They still looked the better team but they were not passing the ball around as fluently as they had in the first quarter. Kilkenny took advantage of a few lazy mistakes which gave them the opportunity to attack the Columba’s Circle.  One of these attacks came down our right-hand side and a neat ball into a free Kilkenny player on the penalty spot left Benedict Huessen too much to cover as the ball was directed past his left foot.  Kilkenny were back in the game and began to play with a bit more confidence and forced more mistakes from the Columba’s players.

Columba’s came out after halftime playing the ball around a bit more like they had in the first quarter and this led to an early goal from Edvard Zujest who got an excellent deflection from a dangerous cross in front of the keeper. Down by two goals, Kilkenny had nothing to lose and threw themselves into every challenge.  This limited the time that Columba’s players had on the ball leading to more mistakes.  In the final quarter, Kilkenny really piled on the pressure and eventually, it paid off for them clawing back one of the goals.  It was a nervy final 10 minutes with only the one goal separating the sides but the Columba’s players kept hold of the ball for longer periods and were able to exert pressure on Kilkenny rather than having to defend. It led to a few more chances for Columba’s but again the Kilkenny keeper kept them in it.

It was certainly a well-earned win for the team who have worked incredibly hard all season.  They were very unfortunate early on in the season to have missed out on qualifying for the All Irelands and the Senior Cup but they turned their season around by remaining unbeaten in all competitions since October. A special mention must go to Grant Glutz, the Senior’s coach, who has transformed the squad into a formidable team capable of competing against the best teams in the province.

Congratulations to the Junior Girls’ Hockey XI who last week won their league final in emphatic fashion, with a 3-0 win over Santa Sabina at Three Rock Rover HC. The match’s first goal came one minute before halftime, Rachel Pollock choosing the perfect time to score, and it served to settle the team’s nerves. They came out much more confident in the second half, playing more fluidly with linking passes resulting in a quick second goal for Rachel. Santa Sabina continued to fight to the end; still, with the St. Columba’s team growing in confidence and the defensive line pushing up to the halfway line putting the Santa Sabina midfield & defence under a lot of pressure, the third goal came ensuring the win. That third goal completed a superb hat trick for Rachel Pollock. The team celebrated and so they should; it was a fantastic team performance and they thoroughly deserved their win.
Team:
S. Walker
S. Pollock
R. Pollock
G. McCarthy
A. McCarthy
D. Murray
T. Larke
P. Pringle
C. Penwill
S. Dobbs
H. Moffett
H. Robertson
D. Brady
G. Trolese
N. Bradley Brady
Coach: Stef Haughton

During the February midterm break, a group of St. Columba’s College junior and senior rugby players travelled to Naples to play a series of games against Amatori Napoli Rugby Club. The group arrived in Rome on the morning of Friday 17th and then travelled south to Naples by bus, where they were based during their trip, and were straight into action the following day. With a playing squad of 43, they played their first two matches against Amatori Napoli Rugby Club with the Junior team winning 40-29 and the SCT winning 29-19. After the games, Amatori Napoli hosted a spread of Italian food and the boys socialised and watched Ireland’s Six Nations match against France at the clubhouse.

The next day, the group climbed Mt. Vesuvius, had pizza for lunch, and explored historic Pompeii. They also had downtime before dinner at the hotel. On Monday, they had a walking tour of Naples with lunch at a local restaurant before heading back to Amatori Napoli for the second round of matches. They were two more competitive games but the hosts atoned for their losses in the first matches. This time, the Juniors lost narrowly 28-29 and the SCT lost 21-5, but everyone had a good time and friendships were made.

Amatori Napoli was very hospitable and the boys enjoyed the food and gifts they received. On Tuesday morning, the group packed up and travelled back to the airport to return home. Overall, it was a pleasant and memorable experience for the St. Columba’s rugby players. We’d like to thank Mr Cron for his efforts in organising the trip, Mr Havenga for his work on the ground and to all the staff that travelled with the pupils. Below is an album of photos from the trip, courtesy of Rev Owen.

Sebastian Dijkstra, a pupil in Form IV, is spending his Transition Year at Glenwood High School in Durban with the aim of improving his cricket and expanding his horizons. He sends a report from South Africa on how his year has been going so far.

The journey began on the 8th of January in Terminal 2, Dublin Airport. After arriving at the terminal, I first met Senan Reid from Clontarf CC who was going to Muir College in the Eastern Cape. Then at 10 pm, we boarded the plane off to Dubai. We were lucky enough to be travelling with the Irish men’s cricket team on their way to Harare to play against Zimbabwe. A couple of the players went to South Africa during their TY year and it was nice to get some feedback from their experience.

Eventually, after 20 hours of travelling, we landed in Durban. Two days after we arrived, we met the head of cricket at Glenwood, Mr Bux, and Mr Duncan, the head of Gibson House. Mr Duncan gave us a tour of the school and where I would be staying. The next day was the annual pre-term High-Performance Camp. It was an immense change training in 30-degree heat after just coming out of winter. HP camp started with a team meeting inside along with a presentation and what we would focus on throughout the day. Then outside, we took part in specific fielding drills, along with target bowling and batting drills. After four days of intense training, school had begun.

On the first day of school, I had a session with Ben, the first team Biokineticist, as I was recovering from a broken arm. Later on in the day, I had my first u16A training session.  The first few training sessions consisted of technique and fitness. Unfortunately for the first week, I was only allowed to do recovery in the gym along with lighter cricket training as my arm was still weak. Ben was a significant help as he set me up with a full rehabilitation plan. Towards the end of the second week, I had my first full, intense training session. Not long after, I played my first match against Kearsney. We bowled first restricting Kearsney to under 250. We then fell a few runs short after accurate bowling from Kearsney.

The following week saw the launch of the academy. This involved training sessions from 7 to 8:15 am every Tuesday and Thursday. Along with that, Mr Bux organised the U16A’s to use the nets from 6 am each day where we could focus on our technique. It also allowed us to hit 300 extra balls each week which grew our confidence leading up to Saturday. Throughout the week, we completed target bowling, flat catching along with boundary work, as well as a net session on the square. This expanded my knowledge of the Durban pitches which helped me to adjust my game. On Friday, our rest day, Mr Bux organised all the ‘A’ squads to go to the new SA 20 competition at Kingsmead stadium.  We watched the Durban ‘Super Giants’ play against the ‘Sunrisers’ Eastern Cape. This was a great opportunity to watch first-class cricket at the top level especially before our game the next day. On Saturday we played Clifton at Delta Cricket Club, a premiere league ground. After a full effort from the team, Clifton, unfortunately, came away with the win. However, with a 100-ball game on Thursday and a 50 over game against Maritzburg College, we have a chance to redeem ourselves.

I would like to thank Cricket Leinster and Glenwood High School for making this trip possible and I am looking forward to the weeks ahead.

Sebastian Dijkstra, St Columba’s College & Merrion CC

The fine weather meant few interruptions and a packed schedule of fixtures in all sports. In rugby, the Juniors have continued their fantastic form in the league beating Sandford Park and St. Benildus in the last couple of weeks setting a big game against Templeogue after half-term, which will likely decide who wins the League. The Seniors also have some big games coming after the break with a semi-final of the McMullen Cup and also a semi-final of the new Ian McKinley League. They found the step up to the Vinnie Murray Cup to be a step too far when they met St. Andrew’s in Donnybrook in mid-January. It was great to have over half of the College in attendance in Donnybrook supporting the lads on such a big occasion and they did themselves proud. Our Junior and Senior squads leave for Italy this morning for a rugby tour, playing a couple of matches and visiting Naples, Pompeii and climbing Mount Vesuvius. Our Tibradden rugby players are continuing to develop and build their skills. They have had four very competitive matches including welcoming Elstree School for a very entertaining friendly just before the break.

The best of luck to the College’s equestrian team competing in the Inter-Schools Show Jumping League’s first event at Coilog Equestrian Centre in Kildare this weekend, a competition run by Newbridge College. Patrick Moran, one of the team of parents coordinating, will act as Chef d’Equipe for the team. Our competing individuals are: Oleana Cowan (Form IV), Daniel Moran (Form II) and Carolyn Curry (Form I).

In basketball, our Junior A and Minor A girls teams have been performing very well in the league, Both teams have had comprehensive wins recently, with only one loss to strong Kings Hospital teams. The Junior and Minor B teams have competed well is their games and are improving with every game. Many congratulations to basketball co-ordinator Ms Hennessey, who this year will be inducted into the Basketball Ireland Hall of Fame for her many achievements as a player in the past.

In hockey, our girls’ teams have been competing well in recent weeks and are all in with a chance to progress to the league playoffs, depending on other results.  It has been a busy half-term for the hockey boys, particularly for the Senior and Junior A teams. The seniors won both their league matches against Sandford Park and a strong Wesley second team. They are playing some excellent hockey and seem to be finding the back of the net a bit more regularly than they did last term. They also easily won their trophy quarter-final against Drogheda 8-0. They are due to play Mt Temple in the trophy quarter-final which will be a sterner test. The Junior A team have had a very successful term having qualified for the cup semi-finals with an excellent 3-1 win against Temple Carrig. Their semi-final clash is against Sutton Park after the mid-term break. The minor A’s had a tough cup draw against High School but they put up a great fight in going down 2-1. The u13 A’s have also been handed a very difficult task in their next round of the cup having to take on a very strong St Andrews team. They have been progressing well in their league and played an excellent match against Newpark winning the match in a shootout after a 2-2 draw.

Sport plays such an important part in the lives of Columbans, with six days of organised games each week. The traditional College winter sports, rugby and hockey, are complimented by a vibrant basketball programme, a growing archery tradition, the thrills of polocrosse (think lacrosse on horseback) and, this year, a brilliant golf academy.

The Golf Academy, eight weeks in, is already an undoubted success. Twelve young golfers, pictured above, have been given the opportunity to practice or play golf every day. A new driving and pitching range is planned (this term, the cricket pitch has been transformed) and a new indoor golf studio will begin construction soon. Of course, all our pupils have access to the College golf course, which provides a tricky challenge for any golfer. The young golfers are showing amazing progress already, under the watchful eye of our new golf professional Josh Adams PGA. For more information on the Golf Academy click here or follow their progress on Instagram.

Archery has been a sport which attracts those with a keen eye and a competitive edge. These past few weeks have been fantastic in terms of weather, making for great practice sessions. The team has welcomed new archers, and all are progressing very well. Senior archers have worked especially on their posture by shooting blindfolded, which they enjoyed very much indeed! We look forward to honing their skills further, with the help of Madame de Fréin.

Rugby is off to a good start this year with the Seniors competing for the newly established Ian McKinley Cup, in a new format which brings together 7 of our traditional rival schools to compete in a league format. We have played 4 league games and have taken maximum points with good wins over Templeogue, Newpark, De la Salle and, this week, St. Benildus. The Juniors have also got off to a very good start to their league campaign with four wins from five games, including a thrilling 31-30 victory over Sandford Park having come back from 20-5 down at halftime.
It’s been a great term so far for girls’ basketball with some excellent performances from the Senior A and Cadette A teams against Kings Hospital, High School, Sancta Maria and Beaufort. The Senior Girls now qualify for the regional playoffs while the Cadette narrowly lost out on a spot. The Senior B girls’ team played four very competitive games and have shown great improvement over the past few weeks. The Senior Boys’ squads have trained consistently and produced excellent performances recently against Woodbrook College and St. Killian’s, CS. Unfortunately, they did not qualify for the playoffs but will compete in the Plate Competitions after the half-term.
In hockey, it is great to see our first year girls performing so well in training and the improvement has been staggering so far. They played in a competitive blitz with Newpark and De La Salle and had a loss to Headfort; they start their league after half-term. The Senior league & cup campaigns have begun with the 1st XI winning the first round of the cup 2-0 on a very wet day in Celbridge against St. Wolstans. The Junior League has also begun with a win. The Minor leagues also begin after half-term. The boys’ hockey squads have been equally busy, with some excellent results recorded. Our Senior XI were incredibly unlucky to miss out on an All-Ireland place on penalty goals.