Double Northern Ireland volleyball triumph for Dalriada Boys' and Girls' teams

Dalriada School’s volleyball teams have once again enjoyed a hugely successful volleyball season.
Great success for Dalriada School volleyball teams this season. Credit Dalriada SchoolGreat success for Dalriada School volleyball teams this season. Credit Dalriada School
Great success for Dalriada School volleyball teams this season. Credit Dalriada School

The younger girls retained the Under 14 School’s League title with exactly the same squad as last year. After 12 tough matches, the girls topped Division 1 to take top spot in the country.

In the weeks to follow the school was bitterly disappointed when their favoured Senior Girls team came up short against the power and experience of Portadown College, a team consisting of mainly Year 14 players. The Dalriada Seniors were not content with Silver, but they will return to contest the league next year. For now, they have lost out on an All-Ireland place and will be targeting the Cup in Springtime.

The biggest achievement of the teams undoubtedly came in the Under 16 competitions where both Under 16 League Titles came back to County Antrim. In a spectacular feat, both the boys’ and girls’ teams clinched their national championships with unwavering determination to make their journey to the top of 32 teams.

The Year 11 Girls, led by Hope Ballantyne, overcame the Year 12 Girls in a thrilling final, culminating in a remarkable show of sportsmanship. In an awe-inspiring display of skill, determination, and teamwork the Year 11 girls showed dogged determination and came back from being 19-14 down against Sullivan Upper to win their Semi-final. The boys, led by captain Tom Stewart, brought the Richie Martin Trophy home for the first time since 2014 after defeating Campbell College 25-23 in a tense final which saw them trailing behind until the final stages.

This means the Dalriada Year 11 girls retain the coveted Caitriona McKeag trophy for the school and both teams will go forward to play the best schools in Ireland in what is sure to be a massive Day in March 2024.

Girls’ Year 11 Captain and International player Hope Ballantyne, who said she still cannot believe that she led her Year 11 Girls to win the trophy for the top Under 16 side in NI, said: “It means such a great deal to win the Caitriona McKeag and hold it like so many captains before me in Dalriada.”

The winning Boys’ captain and international player, Tom Stewart, said: “We are so glad to see all our hard work has paid off. Our discipline was put to the test against a resolute Campbell College side in the final, in a game we trailed 22-18 and we came back to win it 25-23.”

A school spokesperson: “Well done to both captains and both teams on their remarkable feat to bring the Richie Martin and Caitriona McKeag trophies together in Dalriada. Both trophies are in honour of two young people who meant so much to the volleyball community in Northern Ireland and it’s very special to have them together.

"Both teams look forward to March 14, 2024, when they will meet the corresponding champions from the south of Ireland in the coveted All-Ireland Final. This will be a massive day for the school.”