HAVING been part of the Newtown Blues squad that won Joe Ward in 2008, John Kermode has happy memories of that day.
Despite being an unused sub in the Blues win over Mattock Rangers, the Newfoundwell man remembers the feeling of victory.
It’s a feeling he wants to experience as this time Kermode will not only be playing, but he finds himself now leading the Blues into battle as captain, ready to take on St Patrick’s.
“I didn’t play in the last final so perhaps it is weird me being captain for this one, but there is a lot of leaders in our team and lads who have plenty of experience.”
Many of the 2008 panel are still there, but for Kermode, he wants to play his part in taking Blues to another title win.
“It’s a great feeling to be in the final. Beating Mattock that day was a great feeling for everyone in the club and we want that again.
“The best thing about this season so far is being back in a final. It’s great to be back in it and it’s the reason why anyone plays football, to get to the final.”
For much of the year, the Blues have not been able to rely on their bench heavily during games due to a multitude of injuries, but now everyone is back and fighting for a place in the final.
After losing a Cardinal O’Donnell Cup semi-final last week to the Dreadnots, Kermode knows that every place is up for grabs, something that has made training very competitive.
“We have been struggling with injuries all year. Our bench at times has been the walking wounded with lads on it who could not take part due to injuries.
“We had a few lads emigrate, Ian McManus came back after injury only to be sent off in the Kilkerley Emmets game, but he should be back for the final. Hugh McGinn is pushing for a start after struggling with a shoulder injury. We have people coming back at the right time, all pushing for places and training has been great because of it. Aidan O’Brien was back for the semi-final and I thought he had a great game. And with the Dreadnots game, there is a lot of places up for grabs and players know that.”
The Dreadnots game was a rare loss for the Blues who looked to be marching towards a possible league and championship double, but it gave them the feeling of loss before a final, something that could either hinder or help the team.
“We bounced back well in the Cardinal O’Donnell Cup last year after the disappointment in the Championship when we lost to Cooley Kickhams.
“We try to win every competition we enter and I think we used the momentum of last year’s league win to push us on this year and try to win as much as we could.
“The Dreadnots game we thought might have come at the right time to keep momentum going but it just did not happen.
“They were better than us on the day, they were hungrier and wanted it more. We took the game very seriously as we wanted to defend the cup and possibly try and do a double but on the day, they had the right attitude and it was not our day.
“Maybe the taste of losing came at a right time, maybe it didn’t. We did not like it at all but it will be a negative and a positive I am sure.”
Since the Blues had a game last weekend, coinciding with the Pat’s and Mattock replay, both sides go in with the same amount of preparation under their belts, with neither having the advantage, but for Kermode, he thinks the key to winning will be stopping his midfield opponent, Paddy Keenan.
“None of us have the advantage and after the last results, they have the momentum for sure, beating Mattock.
“Paddy Keenan is in the form of his life. I think he’s playing better football than he was when he got the All-Star.
“He’s chipping in with not only points, but goals. It’s going to be very hard to stop him on that form but that’s something for the management team and us to try and find a way to do so.”
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