The ‘French connection’ to Sunday’s Ulster Under 16 Championship win by Clann Eireann over cannot be over emphasised.
Although the young Lurgan side were comfortable winners by a 2-10 to 0-04 margin over their County Antrim opponents, the win over Magherafelt in the semi-final was essentially the catalyst which brought the Paul McGirr cup back to Lurgan for the first time.
Described by many as a classic, the Clanns’ one point semi-final success which in no small measure was down to the last gasp point blasted over by the Lake Street side’s wing back Thomas French, a scenario which set up his team for victory and an Ulster title.
Speaking to the Mail on Sunday evening young Thomas firstly concentrated on the victory over Ross.
“It’s a fantastic feeling to realise your team of being the best in Ulster,” said Thomas.
“Winning the Armagh title was a little bit special but to win at Provincial level is something else.”
The Lurgan man said his team have been destined for success for a long time.
“I don’t know when this all started,” added Thomas. “You could possibly trace a lot of it back to our primary school days.
“It’s just fantastic to look back and realise that the lads have all stayed together for all those years, and looking forward to the future to be honest I don’t think any of us will want to miss moving to Minor and eventually to Senior football.”
Clann Eireann’s recent success at youth level has been nurtured by a fantastic coaching structure at the club and although this season in particular the Lake Street side’s youth teams have been particularly prominent, looking back on the highlights of 2015 French’s late Ulster semi-final winner will be seen as a dazzling highlight,.
“I think the club can be proud of all our teams this year,” said Thomas. “On a personal level it’s great to know that I played a part in bringing a bit of success, but when we look back there were many other players who stepped forward to lead the side on different occasions. Our coaches always said if you are in the right place to have a go just go for it. ”
Thomas is looking forward to playing Minor football next season. “I think we have around nine or ten lads who came through our Provincial campaign this season who played in the All County Minor final. The idea is now to keep all the lads together and move forward. It’s great to be part of the squad.”