‘Blood, sweat and tears have to go into the game’

Wicklow People (Arklow) - - SPORT - KEVIN JOHN ROGERS

IT has taken Kevin John Rogers 13 years and eight semi-fi­nals to fi­nally make it to Sun­day’s show­down. The 30-year old was still in nap­pies when Bless­ing­ton last made it to the same stage in 1988 and he has be­gun to fear that he would never get to ex­pe­ri­ence a fi­nal be­fore hang­ing up his boots.

The wing-back is as flum­moxed as any­one else as to why it has taken Bless­ing­ton, a con­sis­tent pow­er­house in Wick­low GAA, 29 years to give them­selves a chance to clinch the SFC for the first time since 1983.

It in­evitably be­came a bit of a jinx in some minds but now that Rogers and co. have con­quered the moun­tain, they want to con­quer the village next.

“It’s great to get to a fi­nal. It’s been 29 years now and I’ve played in a lot of good Bless­ing­ton teams – this is my 13th year at se­nior. It’s great to fi­nally be there.”

“It’s re­mark­able be­cause we’ve al­ways been in the top four or what­ever. Even in the early stages of the cham­pi­onship this year, an­other year nearly went by where we didn’t take our chances. We’d plenty of chances to beat both Kil­te­gan and Ark­low and we left them in the game and left them in the game longer and didn’t kill them off and we nearly paid the price for it.”

There was no short­age of tal­ent in Bless­ing­ton and ev­ery sea­son, they planned on as­sault on the cham­pi­onship which Rogers wor­ried wouldn’t arise in his play­ing days.

“Gen­uine am­bi­tions to win the cham­pi­onship (ev­ery year). When I first came onto the panel in 2005, from the play­ers that were on the panel at the time I hon­estly thought that we’d get to fi­nal after fi­nal but it didn’t work out that way. We just couldn’t get over the line. Hope­fully we put all that right on Sun­day.

“It was get­ting to that stage (that I thought I’d never play in a fi­nal). It was semi-fi­nal after semi-fi­nal and I think in 2013 was our best chance – we were beaten by two points by Balt­in­glass but we had been a point up with less than five min­utes to go. It was a knock-on ef­fect.

“It does play on your mind a bit but this year is dif­fer­ent. This year, we had a good chat and pulled ev­ery­one in to­gether after we had been beaten by Ark­low. We said from here on in, it’s knock­out foot­ball and then we got the big draw against Pat’s and no­body gave us a chance but we knew within our­selves that we def­i­nitely had the play­ers to beat Pat’s. We ex­e­cuted the game-plan on the day.”

Man­ager Barry O’Dono­van’s game­plan may have worked that day, but he’s had to plot Rath­new’s down­fall from Mel­bourne hav­ing em­i­grated there re­cently. He will re­turn for Sun­day. It may not be ideal preparation but Rogers doesn’t think it will stop Bless­ing­ton from over­com­ing Rath­new.

“We’d have pre­ferred to have had him with us the whole way to the fi­nal but he had work com­mit­ments so there’s noth­ing we can do. There’s noth­ing we can but it won’t af­fect the panel at all – we’ve sorted ev­ery­thing out.

“They’ll be hard beaten but sure lis­ten, we’ll up for the chal­lenge and they’re the one team that we haven’t beaten in the cham­pi­onship so no bet­ter way to beat them than in the fi­nal.

“It’s a fi­nal now. It’s a 50-50 game and it’s all or noth­ing. Blood, sweat and tears have to go into the game from 1-15.”

Bless­ing­ton cap­tain Kevin John Rogers gets his shot away de­spite the at­ten­tion from Paudge McWal­ter of St Pa­trick’s.

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