Dalriada School wins its ninth All-Ireland volleyball title: success for boys' team but girls narrowly miss out

The much-anticipated All-Ireland volleyball finals at South Lakes, Craigavon, lived up to the excitement that had been building for weeks.
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In front of a packed venue, Dalriada Volleyball teams were chasing their ninth, and potentially tenth All-Ireland title with both the Under 16 Girls’ Team and the Under 16 Boys’ team involved.

The Girls’ Under 16 Volleyball team put up a valiant fight, narrowly missing out on the title against a formidable opponent, Coláiste Muire of County Clare, who the Ballymoney team defeated last year. The Dalriada Girls led the first set most of the way, but a few costly mistakes resulted in a 25-21 loss in the best of three fixture.

The second set was a show of determination, character and determination, with the County Antrim girls coming from 19-12 down to win the set 29-27. The deciding set, to 15 points, was taken by our opponents 15-11.

Dalriada's Erin showing great power with her hit. CREDIT DALRIADA SCHOOLDalriada's Erin showing great power with her hit. CREDIT DALRIADA SCHOOL
Dalriada's Erin showing great power with her hit. CREDIT DALRIADA SCHOOL

Dr Ian Walker, coach of the girls, stated: “Despite the loss, the performance of our girls was commendable, showcasing exceptional courage throughout the match.

"This team are still very young and have another year to compete at Under 16 level and we are so proud of the character that captain Hope Ballantyne and her team showed. There were times you could hear a pin drop in a hall packed with 350 spectators, and one of your team is just about to serve to save a match point with every eye on her actions.

"The pressure of that is immense and the girls deserve the utmost respect for playing the way they did,” concluded Dr Walker.

In contrast, the Dalriada Boys emerged victorious in their match, securing the title with a convincing 2-0 win over St. Brigid’s of County Galway. Their stellar performance on the court demonstrated their dedication to the sport, as well as their superior technical abilities and strategic prowess.

Dalriada Girls' U16 - All Ireland Runners Up. CREDIT DALRIADA SCHOOLDalriada Girls' U16 - All Ireland Runners Up. CREDIT DALRIADA SCHOOL
Dalriada Girls' U16 - All Ireland Runners Up. CREDIT DALRIADA SCHOOL

The boys’ team, ably led by Captain Tom Stewart, and packed full of international talent, exhibited remarkable coordination and athleticism, dominating the game from start to finish and leaving their opponents trailing behind, winning their two sets 25-18, 25-13.

Boys’ Coach Rebecca Parkhill, a past All-Ireland winner herself with Dalriada, said: “Our boys have won the ninth Irish title for our school family, and to have won it as a player and now a coach is such an amazing honour that I will never forget.”

A school spokesperson said: “The electric atmosphere was palpable as supporters cheered on their respective teams, adding to the excitement and intensity of the competition.

However, amidst the jubilation, there was a poignant moment of silence to honour the memory of our Headmaster, Mr Skelton, who passed away over a month ago.

Dalriada School U16 Boys All-Ireland ChampionsDalriada School U16 Boys All-Ireland Champions
Dalriada School U16 Boys All-Ireland Champions

"His presence was deeply missed, but his spirit undoubtedly resonated throughout the event, serving as a reminder of the importance of community, resilience, and solidarity in times of adversity.

"Thanks so much to all our parents, staff and pupils who travelled to produce a sea of Royal Blue and Maroon,” added the Dalriada spokesperson.

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