11 months ago, St Patricks left Bruff a disappointed team after losing to Deerpark in the semi-finals of the inaugural Inter/Junior Gents National Inter-Club competition. They returned to the same stage this year hoping for better and duly got their reward with magnificent victories over Lakeside and Collinstown to claim the title in Tullamore last Saturday. Team captain Aidan Whelan tells Communications and Press Officer Jason O’Connor the story behind the Enniscorthy club’s success.
WHILE many of the players were still to swing a club in anger in 2014, St Patricks were busy thinking about the 12 players who would represent the Enniscorthy club in this year’s Inter-Club. The names that they came up with ultimately did the business over six months of competition but it means far more to the club than can be imagined according to Aidan. “We’ve 45 minutes to travel to our nearest club in the PPUI so geographically we do feel a bit isolated. We put a lot of work into this though and we’re delighted with the reward that we have got,” he said.
Four visits to the Tullamore course for practice were just a taste of the effort put in by St Pats along with a number of practice matches against the club’s Senior Inter-County team. Indeed considering Wexford were the inaugural winners of the Leinster Junior Inter-County it completes a fine showing on all fronts in 2014. This success is a bit closer to home according to Aidan. “This is the first time we’ve ever won anything nationally as a club so this does stand out a bit from the other wins as they were all with Wexford,” he said. There was a great sense of purpose about St Pats this year particular the fact they won all their Group games up until the last round where fellow C/K/W side Bagenalstown beat them in what was essentially a dead rubber but the club did not lack encouragement ahead of their quarter-final meeting with Collins as Aidan explains.
“We had beaten them as well at the same stage last year in Tramore so we knew what to expect but at the same time we knew they would be anxious to make amends against us,” he said. A big feature of St Pats’ campaign was total dominance of the Singles matches, not only in their quarter-final win against Collins but also in the semi-final against Lakeside where they won all six encounters to record 7-2 and 8-1 wins respectively. The Final against Collinstown pitted them against a club whose home county had enjoyed some decent Inter-County success in 2014 as well but Aidan felt that Gavin Kenny’s performance in the Singles against Stephen Ruane was indicatively of how well the Enniscorthy club were playing. “Being eight under after 12 against a player of Stephen’s calibre is a fine performance and along with Kevin Doyle in the Doubles they had 10 under for the 15 holes they played which is a phenomenal performance,” the team captain said.
Aidan expressed his personal delight for Kevin Doyle who missed Finals Day in Bruff last year due to playing a County Final with his local GAA club. Interestingly Kevin now has the distinction of being involved in all of the three big Wexford success stories in the last decade namely the 2006 Juvenile Inter-County win, the 2012 Gents Inter-County and last Saturday’s Inter-Club. The Captain also felt that Derek Ryan’s performances on Saturday were noteworthy. “Derek played with a broken bone in his hand on Saturday and won three out of a possible four points which is a fair achievement when you have a setback like that to deal with,” he said. The sportsmanship on show from both sides St Pats faced last Saturday was very commendable according to Aidan with what was at stake and he said the club is already thinking about defending the title in 2015. “There are three or four players we could bring in next year who would definitely put it up to the lads who were involved this year. The one thing that this event has taught me is that playing other courses definitely improves your game and that’s the big benefit of this I would suggest to any club thinking about entering these events in the future,” the St Pats captain said.
The club will be having an annual prizegiving on Saturday night where club awards will be presented but the team’s success will give everyone another reason to celebrate on the night and Aidan concluded his thoughts by paying both tribute and thanks to a number of people who helped make last Saturday’s success possible. “Mervyn Cooney and Aidan O’Brien deserve special mention for the amount of effort they have put into this both on-and-off the course. O’Donoghue’s Bar also gave us sponsorship towards the team which we very much appreciate.”
Tomorrow: We look at the retention of the Scratch Gents Inter-Club title by St Annes.
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