Connacht woe for Joe’s!

St. Patrick’s halt provincial adventure

AIB Connacht Junior Club FC Semi-Final
St. Patrick’s 4-17 St. Joseph’s 0-3

St. Joseph’s’ first Connacht adventure since 2003 was ended rather abruptly by an ice-cold St. Patrick’s outfit in the chilly environs of Markievicz Park on Saturday last as the Sligo side romped home to a 26-point win to book their place in the Connacht final.

St. Joseph’s captain Johnny Mannion, however, was philosophical at the full-time whistle.

“I think the gap from when we got knocked out was just too long and we never got going. They were on their third week on the bounce and they were fitter and stronger, they outplayed us all over the field,” he said.

“We were trying to keep the mood up in camp, thinking that we had a chance, but it’s always in the back of your mind that these guys have won Sligo, they played intermediate football very recently, and we got knocked out in a semi-final. You always come hoping that you’ll get a victory, but it wasn’t to be”.

The hope and optimism of the first ten minutes, which saw Mickey Joe Egan give Joseph’s an early lead while St. Patrick’s toiled at the other end, quickly vanished before the first-half water break as the Sligo side finally found their range with five unanswered points. Unfortunately for the ‘Joe’s’ they were just getting started too.

Goals from the often unplayable Padraic Clarke and Jim Davis, and points from Cathal Finneran, Pierce Kearins, David Giblin and Conor Kevaney followed by half-time. At that stage, St. Joseph’s were already staring down the barrel of a comprehensive defeat, trailing 2-9 to 0-2.

Things didn’t get any easier for the Kilteevan side in the second period as Pierce Kearins raised a green flag within a minute of the restart. Half-time substitute James Clarke then got in on the act when he breezed through for goal number four just three minutes later as the Joseph’s’ resistance wilted under constant pressure.

Bryan Dolan’s point ten minutes into the second half did offer brief respite but that’s where the scores dried up for the Roscommon club. Meanwhile, Patrick’s were in merciless mood, picking off points and developing a 4-14 to 0-3 lead by the second water break.

Three more St. Patrick’s scores from Padraic Clarke (a free), substitute Niall Connolly and Pierce Kearins polished off an impressive performance, and brought a shuddering halt to a St. Joseph’s’ campaign.

“It was one of the best years I’ve ever had with the club. It was our first time to get to a semi-final since 2003,” Johnny Mannion said.

“People forget that we haven’t an underage set-up or anything and what we do is driven by the players; we’re the ones who get the managers and coaches in.

“Although we were well beaten, it’s still a great day out for our club. To see all those people out there cheering us on, it’s great to see”.

As for the way forward, the St. Joseph’s skipper believes more competitive football would help.

“I always thought myself that there should be a championship alongside junior championship, that could be played during the league when the Roscommon county team is out.

“If you had a championship with Kilglass, St. Michael’s, St. Ronan’s, St. Barry’s and ourselves, and the winner of that goes on to Connacht, they know then that that’s where they’re going,” he said.

“We won the quarter-final and we got through on that, but if you knew beforehand, you’d be more prepared I think.

“Then you’d play your normal championship against the ‘B teams’ of Brigid’s and Pearses to keep the standard up, because you’re not going to improve if you’re just playing at your own level, you need to play better teams”.

There’s no doubt St. Joseph’s encountered one of those ‘better teams’ last Saturday afternoon, but while the final score wasn’t pretty, the Kilteevan side can rightly be proud of their efforts in 2021.