St. Mochtas' Barry Mulholland. (Pic: Arthur Kinahan)
There is a lot of learning in nine years and Barry Mulholland feels St. Mochta’s have come on as a team since the 2009 Leinster junior final loss to Longwood, their opponents in Saturday’s Leinster intermediate first round.
The defender was at right-full when the Meath men reeled in The Mochs in Louth Village to win their replay by a single point, the teams having previously drawn on the far side of the River Boyne.
Mochta’s led the second encounter with eight minutes to go, but, despite having chances to draw - or even win - the game, they were left in agony. Perhaps the hurt provided the mental obstacle which has long plagued the mid-Louth side as their annual bid for Seamus Flood ended in disappointment, until last Sunday week’s reaching of the holy grail.
And Mulholland believes they have learned the hard lessons of closing out games.
“It was said at the time (2009) that we never really ‘push games home’. I think there is a difference now, we’ve got the lead in most games in the championship and we’ve pushed on and held out against Collon and the Bride’s. We never looked like losing.
“We know every team gets a spell, but we know what to do and we’ve learned an awful lot this year from what’s happened before. We don’t panic, and even when the Fechin’s got the goal, we never panicked and got a couple of points.
“We’re coming in very positive.”
Memories of 2009 are blurred, but there is a feeling among the cohort who remain - Declan Byrne, Mulholland, Eamon O’Neill, Liam McGranaghan, Philip Englishby, etc - that this is revenge time.
A match with the Meath champions was off the table in the lead up to the county final against St. Fechin’s, but considering their history with the opposition, either side of Eamon O’Neill’s wedding last Saturday, it’s been tunnel vision. Longwood, as they see it, are there to be shot at.
“After the game, we knew the draw and started to look forward to getting at Longwood. We know we owe them one.
“Obviously, it’s only the first round and progressing is the big thing, but knocking them out would be the cherry on the top.
“But we’ve a young team there now and in 2009, we’d have been thinking that we’d be further on than we are now, thought we’d have won the intermediate by this stage.
“There was satisfaction after the Fechin’s game, but also a touch of relief because we’ve underachieved this last number of years.
“I feel we can go up senior now and give it a good rattle. With the squad there, it’s a young team and minors are coming through, they have got a taste for success after last weekend.
“There is no standing still. Straight after the game we were looking forward to Leinster, looking forward to next year, we’re pushing on and not going to rest like we maybe did in 2009.”
Fighting talk. The Mochs are keen for this provincial campaign to linger longer than their last.
Seamus McGahon’s men will be without the afore- mentioned O’Neill from their midfield, along with the injured Ciarán Byrne. Minor Ciarán McMahon may well get a nod from the start.