1975 - 1980
Following the successes of the previous years in the SBBL, the team transferred to the Down and Connor league in 1975/1976. In a very strong and competitive age group, Aquinas finished third in the league and once again reached the semi final of the cup, losing to Immaculata.
1976/1977 saw the creation of three Aquinas teams after a couple of years in which the club could only field one, albeit with great success. The teams were at Under 14, Under 16 and, for the first time, Under 18. The Under 14s competed in the SBBL with the other two in the Down and Connor league. The club continued its winning ways in the SBBL with the Under 14s winning the league. Unfortunately, the team was defeated in the semi finals of the Holden Cup. The Under 14 squad that year was: John Martin, George Megarry, Sean Hunt, John Burns, Adrian Ballentine, Brendan Duffin, Martin Bell, Ken Holland, Anton Whyte, Jim Harty, David Archer, Paul Gilligan, Conal Nolan and Fintan Bradley.
In the following year, the team reached the final of the Holden cup. Our opponents were Raven Boys. The first match finished 1-1 and the final went to a replay. Unfortunately, things did not go to plan and Aquinas were well beaten, 7-2. The squad that year was: Robert Matchett, John Martin, Andy Silcock, George Megarry, Niall Hunt, Owen Hawthorne, Fintan White, David Armstrong, David Archer, David Johnston, Fintan Bradley, Gary Benson and Terence Matchett.
One interesting development in 1979/1980 was the creation of an Under 18 team by Aquinas old boys. The club, by that stage no longer ran its own team at that age group. Aquinas in all but name, South Belfast, as it was called won the league. The squad, reading like an Aquinas roll call from previous years, was: Jim Wright, John Hinds, Martin Bell, Mark McGinley, Michael McGourty, Noel McKee, Eamon Bradley, Jim Gibson, Bernard O’Neill, Peter Aiken, Brendan McKeogh, Hugh Carville and Seamus Dawson. The team was managed by Stevie Martin.
Noel McKee, from that squad and earlier Aquinas squads, has given many years to the club in more recent times as a coach and is, currently, the manager of our Under 11 team. Similarly, Stevie Martin has been part of the Aquinas fixtures and fittings for many years and is part of the championship winning Under 10 management team this year
Meanwhile, in the SBBL, the Under 14s reached the Holden Cup final, but went down 1-0 to Rosario on the day.
The Aquinas story still reads well. The first full decade, the seventies, has come to an end, with two more league titles in the bag in its second five years. Four league titles and two cups in eleven years continues to represent an achievement of which the club could be proud.