IT’S Mattock Rangers versus St Patrick’s again as the two rivals go head-to-head once more in the semi-final stages of the Avonmore Louth Senior Football Championship.
For the past two years, the sides have met each other, with Mattock coming out victorious on both occasions.
In 2009, it was Mattock by four points as they won 0-14 to 0-10. They won by a similar margin in 2010 as in Cluskey Park, a Mark Brennan inspired Mattock derailed the title bid of the Pat’s as they held out for a 1-11 to 0-10 point win, the difference being Robbie Brennan’s goal which cracked the underside of the bar to beat Robbie Arthur in the Pat’s goal.
This year though, it’s been a reversal of fortunes one could say.
Approaching the semi-final stages last year, Mattock Rangers were flying. They came out of the traps early against Naomh Malachi and Newtown Blues in the group stages and were pushed hard by Kilkerley before showing a resiliency that would again come in display when they beat Peninsula duo, first the Pat’s and then Cooley in the final.
This year though – by their own high standards – Mattock have not reached the level that they usually set for themselves as a couple of lackluster performances in the group stages against Dundalk Gaels and a frightening 55 minutes against Dundalk Young Irelands saw the back-to-back champions top their group, but not in emphatic fashion.
In the quarter-finals they turned on the style against a struggling Glyde Rangers side, but there are question marks hanging over their heads as the Pat’s await them this Saturday.
The Lordship side, on the other hand are flying under Fergal Reel following a difficult start to the season. They brushed aside neighbours Cooley Kickhams with relative ease in the opening group game before further flexing their muscles against Naomh Malachi. Against the Dreadnots in the quarters, they finished the match early with two quick goals from Eoin O’Connor and Paddy Keenan. It’s a far cry from last year when the Pat’s rolled into the semi with Mattock, struggling for form which sets up the game perfectly on Sunday.
In last year’s tie, All-Star Paddy Keenan, who was having a remarkable season found a new attachment to his body as Mark Brennan leeched onto the Louth captain throughout the game. It was a masterstroke by then Mattock manager Kit Henry as Brennan stifled the creativity of Keenan, without affecting his own influence on the Collon side.
It was the difference maker on the day and it could be a tactic that Mattock use again. The champions have a plethora of options for the middle of the park with Christy Grimes, Dan Bannon, Niall Sharkey and Brennan, which is where the game will be won. For the Pat’s they will use formidable duo Keenan and partner Colin Goss to combat Mattock, but it’s not just the middle of the park which will catch the eye as both sides have talent in all areas.
It’s a dream final for the Senior Championship, but somehow these two keep meeting in the semis. Mattock, as we know are gunning for a third title on the trot, but if anyone will be hoping it’s third time lucky, it’s the Pat’s as they look to overcome two consecutive semi-final losses against the Pat’s and get one step closer to getting their hands on Joe Ward. To do so, they have to have to beat the champions.