SPORTS AWARDS: All Saints’ clean sweep sees them earn Team award

Sean O'Brian (coach) and Ryan McGarry (captain) of All Saints GAC U-14 receive the Team of the Year award from Raymond Ruck, of sponsors Michelin. INBT06-227AC
Sean O'Brian (coach) and Ryan McGarry (captain) of All Saints GAC U-14 receive the Team of the Year award from Raymond Ruck, of sponsors Michelin. INBT06-227AC

All Saints GAC under-14s completed an unprecedented clean sweep of success to earn the Team of the Year award.

Under-14 level within the GAA is the only juvenile grade that offers club teams the opportunity to participate on the national All-Ireland stage ad the Woodside boys took full advantage of their opportunity to shine.

In the coveted Feile competition, played in Connaght, All Saints battled through three group matches, a quarter-final and semi-final.

In the final, against Laois representatives Portlaois, it looked as though the fairytale run might come to an end as they trailed by four points at half-time.

However, a sustained effort by the Ballymena boys saw them cut the deficit before finally nudging ahead and they eventually won by two points to secure a first ever All-Ireland title for the All Saints club and one which only a handful of Antrim county teams has achieved previously.

The national title was the undoubted crowning glory for the team, which won every single match in all five competitions it was eligible to play in.

Coach Sean O’Brien said of his players’ exploits: “They are the easiest bunch of boys to coach - anybody could have done it.

“It’s an unbelievable experience. You get singled out as a coach but the whole club and the parents played their part as well.”

Captain Ryan Mcgarry said: “It’s the best year in the club’s history and it’s an honour to be here with this trophy.

“Of the All-Ireland success, the teenager added: “It was the best feeling of my life so far and I wish I could do it again.”

Coach O’Brien said the success of the team was testament to the ongoing work being carried out by the club within all sections of the community to .

“We have boys from different backgrounds and we have worked with the rugby club and Carniny soccer club.

“It might mean something to the older generation but to these lads, it is just about team-mates and sport - that is all that matters,” added Sean.

Also short-listed: Harryville Homers (football); Ballymena Academy (showjumping).