DESPITE enduring a somewhat frustrating trip to the Meadows Equestrian Centre near Lurgan on Saturday, the Holy Cross showjumping team achieved their aim of finishing in the top 10 in the Tri Equestrian All-Ireland Inter Schools League Northern Region final.
That was their target at the start of the campaign, which began in September against 39 other schools and having reached the final 25 and suffered some bad luck on the day, they are delighted with their overall achievement.
The omens weren’t good on Saturday when the team lost two horses. Brooklyn Edward’s mount, Cashmere Katy, suffered a nasty leg injury, while Elly May Duncan Buchanan’s Ballyskeagh Lady had a cough, which meant big changes for the team ahead of what was meant to be the highlight of their season and the culmination of a year’s dedication.
Despite that initial upheaval, the team recorded an overall score of four faults only, which was impressive. Blathnaid Doherty and Erganagh Camaderry produced a great double clear round, recording one of the fastest individual times of the day in the speed round.
That remarkable achievement was followed by Brooklyn, who was now also riding Blathnaid ’s pony, and she too produced one of the fastest times of the day and a double clear round.
Eimear O’Neill – substituting for Elly Mae, who couldn’t ride as her horse was ill, but still travelled with the team to offering support – was competing for the very first time at this level and did fantastically well on such short notice and on a borrowed horse to go clear in her first round to help Holy Cross to one of the fastest team times.
At the end of a somewhat stressful day, the girls were able to look back on what was a hugely successful campaign from their lofty position in the top 10 which, given the circumstances they faced during the final, was a superb achievement.
Each of the team members has thoroughly enjoyed the overall experience of the competition, which has seen them forced to travel further than any other team to compete during the lengthy season.
Although, Elly Mae, Blathnaid, Brooklyn and Rachel McLaughlin have been the core team, they would like to acknowledge the support and dedication of Eimear, who stepped up impressively for the final, as
did Bethany Roche in the very first round.
The girls’ season is far from over though as they still have a few competitions ahead over the next few months, including a qualifier for the new schools’ competition at the Balmoral Show and theyare looking forward to competing in the senior section of the Tri Equestrian All-Ireland Inter Schools League in September.