AFTER a difficult two years, Newtown Blues manager Eugene Judge is delighted to give the supporters of the club another Louth Senior Championship Final appearance.
The Blues won the Cardinal O’Donnell Cup last year but it masked the disappointment of losing in the semi-final of the Championship. The year before, they did not make an impression at all in the prestigious competition.
Last year also marked their return to Newfoundwell after being homeless for a extended period, making it difficult for the side to have any consistency.
But now, three years after their last win, the Blues are back in the showpiece of the Louth football calendar, against St Patrick’s.
“When we were away from our field for a year or a year-and-a-half, it was difficult. We carried on, but we found it difficult to keep the momentum going. When you have to find somewhere to train every week, I don’t think people – other than those at the club - realised that we were suffering because of it, but in the end, we managed to win the Cardinal O’Donnell Cup, a competition we regard highly. It was nice to finish with a trophy and I think it gave us a kick this year.
“It’s a special day for the club, both clubs and for the supporters and it’s something that we cherish being in a big final. It’s great for the club and we would love to win it for them.”
Going into the game, Judge is downplaying the expectations put on his side as they look for a 20th Joe Ward, instead putting the pressure on the Pat’s who are going for only their fourth title.
“We are playing St Patrick’s for the first time in a final that I can remember and it’s a bit of a novelty in that regards as we have not met too many times in the Championship and never in a final.
“There’s always two or three teams you expect to be there and the Pat’s are one of them. There’s a hunger as both sides have not won it in a number of years.
“They are playing very well at the moment. The two O’Connors are on fire and around the field, they are very focused. We have our work cut out for us and that is something we know.”
Both sides are mixed with both youth and experience with the likes of Brien Philips and Ray Hughes being the stand out veterans for the Blues. Knowing that both sides have a great blend, Judge is expecting a stand-out game.
“On both sides, there’s young and old players. We’ve lost a couple of lads due to emigration and we know – with the way that the economy is going – that Senior Finals are not going to come around every year so we are trying to make this one count.
“We’ve lost Craig Eoghan and Niall Costello this year and we know that if we want to lift Joe Ward on the day, then we have to give it a bit more than what we have shown this year.”
The Blues have played some spectacular football in patches this season, but Judge knows that it won’t count for nothing if they do not show up on the day and give Pat’s their all.
“It’s great that we are playing well at times, but it is about winning in the end. We did not play too well against the Mairtins, but we know we can do better.
“The Pat’s are the team on form when you look at it. Their performance against Collon was very good and from that, you have to say they are the in-form team.
“They have the back bone of the Louth team and they have been the back bone for a number of years now so you would expect them to be there or there abouts so you cannot be surprised to be meeting a team like the Pat’s in the final.
“Every game is a challenge and it is all about what happens on the day. In the final, you hope that your team performs to the best of their abilities and you hope that they give it their all. If they do and you are beat by a better team, then you can have no complaints.”