Holcroft hopes Fechin’s get motoring this time
Momentum and consistency the key to Mochta’s run to decider
RONAN Holcroft believes St Fechin’s belong in the senior ranks, but he also knows they will have to earn their seat at Louth football’s top table.
Despite a proud tradition of mixing it with the very best, the Termonfeckin club were wallowing in the junior grade when the Louth star and most of his contemporaries came on to the scene and while they’re now regularly mentioned as IFC contenders, a solitary and disappointing 2014 final defeat to Sean O’Mahony’s is the closest they’ve come Seamus Flood Cup glory.
‘We got to the final in 2014 and if you asked me if we’d be back over the next year or two I would have said yes 100 per cent,’ says the Louth attacker. ‘But it doesn’t always work out like that. The intermediate grade is so competitive that there’s always one or two teams that go further than expected, so unless you’re really in top form you can forget about reaching a final.
‘I’d be a bit disappointed that it took us so long to get back here and I’d have to say we’ve underachieved.
‘In my opinion St Fechin’s GFC should be senior. I started in ‘09 and we were a pretty poor junior team, but we’ve won senior titles in the past and I think that if we win on Sunday we’ll be back where we belong.
‘It can be tough at times listening to the senior jargon on both sides of us, from the Blues and Clogherhead, but we have a chance now to get up and it’s time to deliver.’
While Sunday’s finalists have raised a few eyebrows en route to the decider, it doesn’t really come as a surprise to Ronan. He has always felt the Fechin’s should be there at the business end every year and he reckons St Mochta’s have shown plenty of potential too.
‘I wouldn’t be overly surprised to see the Mochta’s in it. We’ve played them plenty of times over the years in some big games and they’re a really good side.’
Fechin’s hold the upperhand this year, winning both clashes, but Ronan insists it’s still 50/50.
‘The league is the league, but in the championship in the Clans pitch there was nothing in it. I think they were ahead at halftime and the goal we got was the difference in the end, it was only a kick of a ball.
‘They’re so strong down the spine with Philip Englishby, Darren McMahon and Eamonn O’Neill and Decky up front. We know we’ll have to curb their influence.’
And Ronan also expects to have to deal with the returning Ciaran Byrne at some stage on Sunday.
‘He is a big addition to them. It kind of came out before their semi-final that he wasn’t going to start and if you had asked me then if I thought they might not start him, I would have laughed at you. But it just shows the strength in depth they have and the form they were in that they didn’t start a player like that.’
While the sides met in the 2009 junior final with Mochta’s edging it, the Fechin’s have that 2014 intermediate final defeat to draw.
‘We nearly clawed it back on the day against the O’Mahony’s but there’s plenty of lads still around from that final and hopefully that will stand to us on Sunday.’
Holcroft is confident they will do the busi- ness this time around, and he says that’s exactly the frame of mind manager Eugene Judge wants his team to adopt.
‘Eugene doesn’t overcomplicate it. The starting point is that if every man goes out and wins their individual battle, the collective result will come.
‘It took a while for the light bulb to come on, but once it did the results started to come too. Eugene’s coming from a club that has won senior titles and he does look at you as if to say ‘why don’t you think you can win it’. It maybe took a while for that mentality to sink in, but for the young lads it’s great because it gives them great self belief.’ UNEARTHING a bit of consistency and momentum has been the key to St Mochta’s summer odyssey, according to manager Seamus McGahon.
But did he envisage an intermediate final when he took the reins of his hometown club?
‘To be honest no, but we’ve always felt this group of players were capable of it. Over the last few years they’ve probably been selling themselves short. They’ve had one big performance to get out of a group or into a semi-final, but then lose the next time out. So there’s been a bit of consistency or maybe just a bit of momentum missing.’
Shielding players from the hype of a final is often one of the manager’s trickiest assignments in the run-in to a final, but Seamus feels that supporters deserve to enjoy the build-up and he trusts his players to stay focused.
‘It’s a tight-knit village and they’re football mad, even when things are going badly, so you can imagine what it’s like in the build-up to a final. They’re great supporters and they deserve this.
‘The players are fully focused on the game. They realise it’s still there to be won. We have a good mis in the squad. We’re lucky enough to have eight or nine who played in 2009 and are still around the 28 mark and then we have a great crop of younger lads who are no more than 23 or 24. Those young lads are buzzing and the older lads are letting them know what to expect.
‘We have lads coming back too like Ciaran Byrne and then Danny Kindlon, Cormac Callan and Brendan Duff, were all away for the summer, so any time you get lads back like that it’s a big boost.
‘Obviously, getting Ciaran back is a great boost. It will take him a bit of time to re-adjust, it’s a different ball and even a different positional sense, but we all know he has the tools be a top footballer.’
But St Fechin’s have a few top footballers too and after suffering two defeats to Eugene Kudge’s side already this season, Seamus knows his team have it all to do.
‘The Fechin’s are a good side, we’ve played them twice and they’ve won both, so we know what we’re up against. Any team that has players like Ronan Holcroft, Bevan Duffy or Niall Devlin are going to be hard to stop.
‘We’ve played them a good few times over the years so we’ve gone through a couple of things that we need to do and we do feel we let ourselves down a little bit against them this year, so there’s hopefully a bit of room for improvement.
‘We just hope we can put in a performance that justifies getting there and it will take a big performance to win it.
‘Senior football is the big prize. It would be great for the older lads who know what it’s like to be slogging away in junior, while the younger lads only know intermediate football. But it would be great to win a trophy for the supporters and the people who give up their time all year round
‘We have good minor and U-16 teams coming through so the hope is that you can get up to senior and those younger lads coming through will strengthen you further,’ he adds.
Rona Holcroft feels St Fechin’s have underperformed since losing the 2014 final to Pat O’Brien’s (right) Sean O’Mahony’s side.