It was back in April that the O’Connor’s Loss Assessors Division One league began and it will be Sunday December 9 before it’ll all be over.
The two current heavyweights of Louth football will battle it out in Dowdallshill at 2pm that day for the Cardinal O’Donnell Cup.
It’s the final bit of silverware of the long county season, however there’ll be little sign of complacency from either side. Bragging rights are at stake and also a chance to finish on a high for one team in particular.
Both have had very impressive season’s so far. However St Pat’s will still be smarting from their loss to Sarfields in the Leinster Club Championship three weeks ago.
There was a sense in the Lordship that this was their year to take a shot at a Leinster title.
As it transpired, they failed to reach the level required that day down in Newbridge.
Despite a noble and battling second half, Pat’s were undone by a slow first half and another questionable refereeing decision regarding the sending off of Kevin Toner for an innocuous looking challenge with Sarsfields Kevin Toner.
Still, ultimately the Louth champions have only themselves to blame for their provincial failure this year.
Reflecting on the their league campaign earlier in the year, St Pat’s were similarly slow to get going. It was Naomh Mairtin who did all the early running. Yet a catalogue of late slip-ups by the Monasterboice men allowed St Pat’s to top Division One at the final hurdle, with O’Connell’s a point behind in second place.
The Castlebellingham side’s much lauded season will be one to remember for a long time to come. An Intermediate Championship title, along with a Leinster final appearance and now a shot at a league title to boot. It has been a good year.
Yet it was looking a lot gloomier on day one of the league campaign when Wayne McKeever’s men struggled to an insipid draw with junior championship side Oliver Plunketts. It was an inauspicious start.
As it turned out it got so much better for O’Connell’s. And a thumping league semi final win over fallen giants Mattock Rangers teed them up for the intermediate victory over Clan Na Gael and their subsequent march on Leinster.
Fergal Reel’s peninsula giants saw off a waning Naomh Mairtin in the other semi final, with Colm Nally’s men looking a spent force at that stage of the season.
Still as Pat’s man Paddy Keenan looks back on 2012, there is a tinge of ‘what could have been’.
“A bit of regret to be honest. It was a good enough year as a whole and many clubs would love to be looking back on a championship but we’re still very disappointed over the Leinster run”, explains the Louth Captain.
“I don’t think we played as well as we could in Leinster and that is the most frustrating thing. We had all the hard work done and had the focus to make a run at it but it’s very frustrating to get to that stage and play poorly on the day.”
However Keenan is certain that his side will put that loss to the back of their minds when they face O’Connell’s on Sunday.
“The loss to Sarsfield took it’s toll alright and we were very disappointed after it. We fully believed we would win that game and then to not perform on the day was very frustrating. It’s behind us now at this stage and we’re looking forward to the League final now.”
At this time of year the chance to pick up an injury is greater due to the softer ground and the fatigue factor, it’s something Keenan is concious of.
He revealed that there are some injury concerns ahead of Sunday.
“It’s been a long year and a few niggles and that are starting to creep in. Ray Finnegan is struggling with a long term injury and Eamon Carroll took a heavy knock and Paudie Mallon and Colin Goss have been struggling with niggles so it’s tough when you don’t have the likes of those boys training”, added the Pat’s midfielder.
“There’s always the fear that boys will pick up a knock at this time of year but we’ve been lucky enough with injuries this year so hopefully that continues.”
Keenan is taking nothing for granted come Sunday, he has nothing but admiration for O’Connell’s and what they’ve achieved in 2012.
“We’d be happy enough with their record this year! They’ve been flying all year and I suppose they’ll be looking to win the three trophies in Louth this year.
“We had a tough time of it against them earlier in the year and they’ll be moving well because of the Leinster run so we’ll be up against it.”
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