Canyon of Heroes – 2009
2009 World Champions
Our Lady’s College
Greenhills, Drogheda, Co. Louth, Ireland
Emily Walker (captain)
Niam hin O’Dowd
Ide Ni She, Faculty Coach
Aileen Hanratty, Acting Coach
Irene Sands, Solicitor (Attorney) Advisor
On October 18th, 2009, Our Lady’s College became the first-ever international school to capture the Empire World Championship. After winning the Irish National Competition in April, Our Lady’s College worked with barristers, solicitors and an acting coach to prepare for the tournament. The girls strived to do better than their Irish predecessors, who failed to place in the competition the year prior.
The Irish girls had a number of obstacles to overcome en route to their title. First, they had to capture more ballots than any other Empire Champion. 2009 was the first year the Empire featured three scoring judges per round, instead of two; additionally, the Championship Round was scored by 13 judges, instead of 5. That’s over 50% more ballots the team had to win.
Second, they had less time to prepare the case than any other school in attendance. Unsure if they could raise the necessary funding, the team had only four weeks to prepare for the Empire. That’s very little time to learn a 100 hundred page legal docket, the federal rules of evidence and adapt to American courtroom etiquette.
Finally, they faced some of the most difficult competition at the tournament. In Rounds 3 & 4, the girls were paired against the eventual third and fourth place teams, both coached by experienced American trial attorneys. In the Championship Round, the team competed against the reigning New Jersey State Champion, Mainland Regional High School. They didn’t take the easy way to the top!
Our Lady’s College success at the 2009 Empire was the perfect mix of creativity, zealous advocacy and theatrical brilliance. These skills helped them overcome the evidentiary limits they faced, traveling from abroad. The school finished with a record of 10-2 after four rounds of competition and dominated the Championship Round, capturing an additional 10 ballots. While the presiding judge, Chief Justice Raymond J. Dearie of the Eastern District of New York did not have a scorecard, he was exceptionally impressed by the champions’ performance. Overall, they finished with a record of 20-5
After being informed of their triumph, Irish National Coordinator Vincent Martin said, “This is very uplifting news for Ireland in a time of recession.”
Tournament Director Justin Matarrese announces Our Lady’s College as the 2009 Empire Champions.
“The final round, if not the whole competition, was a test of stamina and determination. In our only four weeks to prepare the case, a universal effort was produced by the members of the team. Rehearsals were taken for two hours after school each day and even full days on the weekends running up to the trial. For four weeks the only thoughts allowed to enter the mind were those of ‘Mock Trials’. Countless hours, tears and late nights later; we could experience the results of all our hard work.”
- Emily Walker, Attorney, Captain
“We went to America! I don’t even know how to express how great the experience was! We’re still talking about it even now and it was months ago! I was a witness, it was really fun being questioned because you weren’t answering as yourself, you were someone else and your character always had an answer.”
- Niamhin O Dowd
“It was the most amazing experiance of my life, I know in years to come I will always look back on that weekend and smile!”
- Theresa McKenna
“Winning the competition was like a dream come true for us. At times we still can’t believe that we actually did it. It was a combination of hard work, determination and perhaps the Luck of the Irish! It has certainly made a lasting impression on all of us who traveled to New York.”
- Aileen Hanratty, Acting Coach
“Having the privilege of coaching such an amazing team of girls though this entire experience, both in Ireland and NY was such an honor. The Empire Competition gave our team the chance to compete on a global stage – against some of the top schools across the world – an opportunity like that comes but once in a lifetime. An abundance of hard work, stress and determination saw the girls bring home not only some individual awards, but they were also crowned the overall Empire Champions. However, we returned to Ireland with so much more than those trophies, we brought friendships, stories and memories that will remain with us forever. A truly remarkable experience!
- Irene Sands, Solicitor (Attorney) Coach
About the School
Our Lady’s College, Greenhills is an all-girls Catholic school under the trusteeship of the Presentation Order. It was established in 1940 as a day and boarding school. It is now a day school only with an enrolment of 890 students.
The school’s mission is to:
a) to create a suitable environment for quality teaching and learning and the fulfilment of each student’s potential as a person;
b) to foster in each pupil a feeling of self worth and a sense of respect and consideration for others;
c) to develop in students a sense of responsibility and good citizenship;
d) to prepare students for life after school.
The school also features a well-established Heads Pastoral Care system, which is now almost 35 years in operation. The aim of the Pastoral Care system is to help students both individually and as members of a group, to cope and to grow within a caring community as well-rounded people with strong feelings of self-worth. Our Lady’s College has a strong commitment to cherishing all their students equally in the Christian tradition of Nano Nagle, foundress of the Presentation Order.