Loreto College - Coleraine, Co. Derry, Northern Ireland
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24/10/2011 DRAMA, NOSTALGIA & PRIDE SCORE AT FIRST XI V. OLD BOYS SOCCER MATCH

Friday 6th October 2006 saw a special event take place at Loreto College.  The event saw 13 ex-pupils turn up to partake in a football match, against the current crop of footballers.  It was an event which was had been created by nostalgia, the urge to display male pride and an even bigger excuse to meet up and have a social event with old school pals!  However, 5 years and 10 matches later, it has been more a case of many defeats, damaged egos, yet strangely enjoyable.

The matches have always taken place in October and April each year.  But this particular event proved to be a turning point, a learning curve for the old boys, and probably the current pupils too.  The usual suspects of Stephen Mc Killop, Manus Mc Henry, Eugene Wallace, Leo Sweeney , Anthony Doherty and Paul Wallace had been joined by lesser used players such as Aidan Mooney, Ronan Boyle, James Osborne and Jim Black.  But having an average age which would resemble a night at the British Legion on a Saturday night, was about to be dramatically reduced by the introduction of , in a word, youth !  James Peden, Paul Friel and Fergal McCloskey were available for selection much to the delight of the old boys.  And very influential their presence proved to be.

The first half proved to be a relatively close encounter.  The old boys probably created as many chances as the current pupils and this proved to be detrimental.  The mind was telling the old boys they were competing for a victory, but reality was soon restored moments later.  Just before half time, the old boys had a corner.  So most of the team in their excitement at a sniff of goal, surged forward believing a goal was inevitable.  How wrong and how naive can one group of old boys be.  The pupils broke away at pace leaving a wake of puffing 40 year olds, and fired past Jim Black to give them a 1-0 half time lead.

Paul Cunning then came over to speak to the old boys.  His sheer presence must have given the old boys some inspiration – either that or the invitation of having to join the cross country team proved very threatening!  The second half was only 5 minutes old when James Peden pushed forward, and skipped past a challenge to fire home the equaliser from 20 yards ( it’s probably metres now but in my day it was yards!)  Then Fergal McCloskey added another after a build up on the right side.  Now the old boys were on unknown territory – winning this fixture wasn’t even an option in the local bookmakers!  But it got even better for the old boys as a corner from the left created havoc in the pupils defence and Manus Mc Henry stabbed home the third goal.  This was quite ironic as Manus had never scored a goal while at Loreto!  And to cap it all, a forth goal was scored by one of the pupils turning the ball into his own net!  He obviously is staking his claim early for a starting place in 20 years time when he is one of the old boys!

So the match ended in a 4-1 victory for the old boys.  The silence at the final whistle signalled an element of being stunned!  But a deserved victory it was and a match played in good spirit as always.  Many thanks must go to the pupils who played and were willing to compete against ex-pupils who couldn’t fit into PE gear anymore!  Thanks to Paul Byrne for his constant support in this event although it must prove comical for him refereeing men who gasp for oxygen after a ten yard run.  And finally many thanks to Mr James for his permission to let such an event take place at the school.  As the old school song used to say, “School days are happy days...”  well coming back years later and experiencing the atmosphere of Loreto can be happy days as well. 

By
Paul Wallace