St. Pat’s will be bet­ter pre­pared for the chal­lenge

Bray People - - Sport - Mark KENNEDY

ST. PA­TRICK’S and Kil­te­gan have to do it all again af­ter the sides played a draw in what was re­garded as one of the finest foot­ball con­tests as well as best at­tended fi­nals in mod­ern times.

The burn­ing ques­tion for both teams now as they face up to next Sun­day’s re­play at Aughrim is which of them will have learned most from the draw and which of them suc­ceeds best in putting the lessons learned into prac­tice in the re-match.

Un­der­dogs Kil­te­gan will feel dis­ap­pointed over not putting St. Pa­trick’s away at the first time of ask­ing when they had not one but sev­eral chances of do­ing so and will won­der if they have let that chance slip.

Favourites St. Pa­trick’s know only too well that they got out of jail last week­end on a cou­ple of oc­ca­sions and they will be hop­ing to plug the holes that al­lowed their op­po­nents to set the pace through­out the drawn en­counter.

Twice dur­ing the game Kil­te­gan opened up a four points gap on their op­po­nents but as man­ager Gavin Wynne con­ceded they failed to push on from there; now there will be the lin­ger­ing ques­tion of will the same open­ings present them­selves in the re­play.

For one thing the el­e­ment of sur­prise that Kil­te­gan had last Sun­day is gone and the Wick­low town side are only too painfully aware of the for­mi­da­ble chal­lenge pre­sented by their op­po­nents who dic­tated the game from start to fin­ish.

Cen­tre-for­ward John Keogh gave Kil­te­gan the lead with a point af­ter two min­utes and from there on St. Pa­trick’s found them­selves chas­ing the game, the best they could achieve was to draw level, never once did they get ahead.

St. Pa­trick’s lost the mid­field bat­tle to Kil­te­gan’s county star Jacko Dal­ton, who had a huge game for the western­ers, and this is some­thing that the Wick­low team will want to com­bat in the re­play as a lot of their ills last Sun­day stemmed from Dal­ton’s dom­i­nance.

It was as a re­sult of that con­stant flow of ball from mid­field that Kil­te­gan were able to chal­lenge from the front with county play­ers Derek Daly and Seanie Fur­long hav­ing huge games as they put their op­po­nents on the back-foot on Aughrim’s fit­ful score­board.

And it was a com­bi­na­tion of that Kil­te­gan dom­i­nance at mid­field, plus the de­ploy­ment of Adrian Fo­ley as a sweeper at cen­tre-back, that starved St. Pa­trick’s main striker Paul Earls of a suf­fi­cient ball sup­ply.

Over the course of the hour Paul Earls, who had de­mol­ished Kil­te­gan in the 2006 fi­nal with his 1-7 to­tal, was re­stricted to just a hand full of op­por­tuni- ties and yet he end­ing up con­tribut­ing 1-2 to their to­tal.

Af­ter­wards Kil­te­gan man­ager Gavin Wynne con­ceded that a big plank in their strat­egy was curb­ing Earls, who they rightly per­ceived as a huge threat to their am­bi­tion to win their first se­nior foot­ball ti­tle in 22 years. Will the same an­ti­dote work for Kil­te­gan a sec­ond time or will St. Pa­trick’s come up with a new strat­egy to cir­cum­vent the best laid plans of Gavin and his back-room team. We will have to wait un­til Sun­day to see the out­come there.

Kil­te­gan will also have to de­vise some counter mea­sures, not least to deal with the awe­some in­flu­ence that the St. Pa­trick’s cen­tre-back Paudge McWal­ter had on the out­come. Blood­ied but un­bowed, McWal­ter drove at the Kil­te­gan ram­parts with pas­sion and determination and was the player who did most to lift St. Pa­trick’s and haul them up to achieve a draw. Dara O’Sul­li­van and John Slat­tery also made huge con­tri­bu­tions to get­ting a re­sult for St. Pa­trick’s from last Sun­day’s match.

And no doubt it is on huge bat­tles like th­ese through­out the field that the re­play is go­ing to hinge. In the end it will come down to which team has learned the most, and comes up with a new bat­tle strat­egy to meet the new sit­u­a­tion.

Kil­te­gan have lost the el­e­ment of sur­prise, St. Pa­trick’s have learned a salu­tary les­son and, with not a kick of a foot­ball be­tween th­ese teams, that may be the key to the re­sult at the end of the day.

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