- By St. Patricks Classical School
- In Events, Gaelic Football, Sport, St Pats Tribune
- Tags Gaelic Football, Leinster Senior A Championship, Marist Athlone
Marist Athlone 3-12 St Patrick’s Navan 1-17
It’s quite common in sport for teams to have ‘bogeys’. Whether that be a bogey team to play against, bogey weather conditions, or a bogey place to play. Pat’s Senior Footballers can account for two of those three ‘bogeys’ in the last two years having lost out to Marist Athlone in St Brigid’s GAA in Kiltoom, not once but now twice. The team of 2014/2015 fell apart down in the ‘Wild West’ in January 2015 after a comprehensive League Final win had come a month before as an early Christmas present. The team of 2016/2017 were the latest victims after losing out by only two points last week in a cracking Leinster Senior ‘A’ Championship affair.
Can we feel hard done by? I don’t think so. At the end of the day the only team that can knock you out of the Championship is of course yourself. When it comes down to it the team must pose questions. ‘Have we the bottle for this?’ ‘Have we the class to close this out?’ ‘Have we the desire to come back from this?’
In sport teams can get a run at you or have their “purple patch”. Of course there’s no stopping that and you have your own purple patch to fight back. For Pat’s last week, Marists’ purple patch came at a time in the game when Pat’s just needed to relax and close out the game. Unfortunately the opposite unfolded.
A Marist goal followed by two unanswered points in the closing minutes and the game went from a Pat’s five point lead to a draw match in the space of three minutes and three kicks of the ball. The pendulum had swung – Pat’s were drained. Marist had them on the back foot and to cap it all off their free taker then planted an absolutely monstrous place-kick to send Pat’s packing.
If one breaks the game down, the last ten minutes were not the blame.
Pat’s can account for numerous missed chances in the opening period, including their dominant spell very early on. The game was less than a minute old when Captain Oisin Martyn pointed, followed by points from Cian Swaine, Caolan Ward, Diarmuid McCabe and a few Cathal Finnegan frees. In-between these scores missed chances were extraordinary. Some incredibly wayward shots from impossible angles alongside a couple of missed goal chances. Marists’ wingback racked up a tally of 1-4 with his goal putting a stop to the Pat’s purple patch and letting them back into the game but really it shouldn’t have happened. Bad tracking allowed him to play a one-two and soccer finish it passed goalkeeper Mark Devlin. Another goal followed soon after but Pat’s responded strongly and closed out the half with four unanswered scores to be ahead by the minimum at the interval.
The opening exchanges of the second period were mixed with points shared before Pat’s hit another spell of dominance. A handpassing move soon led to a dropped ball in the square and a goalmouth scramble. A Pat’s toe poked it to the net, the goal they needed with McCabe claiming the honours. Once again Pat’s will rue their missed chances with more wayward shots emerging from the spell of dominance. Marist’s purple patch was soon upon us and Pat’s, who looked destined for victory, were knocked out of the Senior Football Championship.
What did it come down to? Well a number of factors can be taken into consideration. Marist showed a terrific never say die attitude to crawl back from looking dead and buried. I think though this Pat’s team lacked experience which is nobody’s fault really. The team was very, very young. Marist made the Leinster final last year and the experience taken from that was evident on the pitch in the closing stages. They knew how to deal with the pressure applied. Still though, the game should’ve been won and the majority of players gave a gutsy, willing, heart-filled performance which just fell short on the day which no level of experience would’ve changed. This is of course a positive for the year up and coming, that the lads who played this season can bring forward their Senior Championship experience to their fellow peers to next year’s Championship.
Sport is cruel. To appreciate the benefits you have got to go through the setbacks. You will always gain less than you lose. That’s just life. It takes good footballers to win but it takes great footballers to stand up after defeat. I know that this group of lads will not lie down after this. They will return as better footballers to their clubs and county teams with a valuable lesson learned. This lesson isn’t just in sport it’s in all walks of life. It’s not over until the ref blows that final whistle.
A word of thanks is to go out to a number of people. Firstly to Mr Monaghan for the effort he’s put in with everything. He’s a great man to have on the sideline after being there in the past and he developed a great relationship with the players which will continue throughout the rest of the year. To Mr O’Rourke for all he’s done. We understood as a group that this year has been tough with striking action and what else but your effort and wise words of advice and motivation never go unnoticed. A special thanks to the ‘Ultras’. The support given in Kiltoom and in Dublin was extraordinary and we set out with our season goal of getting a match at home for your benefit. We are sorry we couldn’t fulfil the promise.
Ernie Banks, a very famous American baseball player, played with the Chicago Cubs for eighteen years. He’s regarded as one of the best players never to win a World Series but he did manage to pick up fourteen all stars and a place in the MLB All Star Team of the Century. One of his best lines sums it all up perfectly – “The only way to prove that you’re a good sport is to lose.” That’s all for this year folks. There are some great teams coming up through this school and I have no doubt that in a few years time Pat’s will be back at the top table with the Leinster Championship home, where it belongs.
Head Sports Writer Brian Dowling
Photo Credit: Meath Chronicle