St. Pat's success cast in concrete

November 20, 2004
St. Patrick's retention of their senior football crown was warmly welcomed by Gerard Duffy of Duffy Concrete Products, who are the main sponsors to the Lordship outfit. Having waited half a century to capture their first Louth senior football championship, St. Patrick's have now tasted Joe Ward Cup glory in successive years. On September 19 last, the Lordship outfit retained their senior football crown with a hard-fought 0-7 to 0-6 victory over peninsula rivals Cooley Kickhams at Clan na Gael Park. And while the final produced little more than a dozen scores, it was a unbelievably tense affair which had spectators on the edge of their seats up until the final whistle. "It may not have been the best county final ever but it was very competitive and, as a supporter of the Pat's, it was a great victory," says Gerard Duffy of St. Patrick's sponsors Duffy Concrete Products. "The second half was nail-biting stuff, but St. Pat's just about held on and there was an enormous sense of relief when the final whistle sounded. "It was always going to be a close game given the local rivalry that exists between the teams. Traditionally, Cooley would be one of the major powers in Louth football but St. Pat's are the top dogs now and we are delighted to be associated with them," he adds. Gerard, who is a former St. Pat's player, puts the club's recent successes down to the dedication of the players and the management team of Gerard Cummiskey, James Feely and Seamus Savage. "The effort those lads put in is unbelievable. It takes some effort to put county titles back-to-back but they have done it. "They would have been forgiven for getting carried away after winning their first championship last year but they were too ambitious for that to happen. They wanted to come back and prove that last year was no fluke. Their next target will be the Leinster club championship. You can be sure that they'll want to give it a good crack." This was Duffy Concrete Products' first year to sponsor the St. Patrick's senior team. Based in Mountbagnal, Lordship, the company was founded just two years ago by Gerard and his brother Kevin, who is also a former St. Pat's player. Duffy Concrete Products produce and supply readymix to builders in the Cooley and Dundalk areas. It is a sister company of Paul Duffy & Sons Sand and Gravel which has been in business for nearly 50 years. Between the two operations, 12 staff are employed. So how did the sponsorship come about? Gerard explains: "As a local business, we were keen to get involved with St. Pat's and when the opportunity arose we were only too delighted to sponsor them. We have always supported St. Pat's with myself, Kevin and another brother, Seamus, having played for the club." St. Pat's began their title defence with a 2-12 to 2-10 victory over Clan na Gael at Dowdallshill. They followed that up with a 1-7 to 1-6 win over Naomh Mairtin at Castlebellingham. In their final group game against Roche Emmets, they had things very much their own way as they powered to a 2-13 to 0-7 victory. The quarter-final draw pitted the Pat's against newly promoted O'Connell's. The Lordship side were expected to win comfortably but they found O'Connell's to be made of stern stuff and were greatly flattered by the 1-15 to 0-11 scoreline. St. Pat's led by just a point at the interval and the minimum margin still separated the teams with 10 minutes remaining. Indeed, it took two points from wing backs Donal O'Connor and Shane Finnegan to turn the tide in the champions' favour. They eventually put the result beyond doubt when Ray Finnegan scored the only goal in injury-time. Clan na Gael provided another stiff test for Gerard Cummiskey's charges in the semi-final. In a low-scoring affair, spectators at Dowdallshill had to wait until the 15th minute for Eamonn Carroll to open the scoring from a free. Substitute Aidan McCabe eventually got the Clans off the mark in the 28th minute before a Johnny Keenan point gave the Pat's a 0-3 to 0-1 lead at the break. With just a point separating the teams, the Clans were awarded a penalty in the 37th minute for a foul on Mark McGeown. The same player took the spotkick but it was well saved by Pat's 'keeper Sean Connor. Despite that let-off, the Pat's struggled to make headway and with 13 minutes remaining, trailed by 0-4 to 0-3. But a great point from a Keith White sideline got them going again and as the game ticked into stoppage-time, they were back on level terms. Seven minutes of injury-time were alotted by referee Paddy Matthews, during which time Eamonn Carroll hit two points to give the champions a 0-8 to 0-6. The first came from a penalty which had been awarded for a foul on an unsually quiet Ray Finnegan. Having played the better football en route to the final, Cooley Kickhams were many people's favourites to take the Joe Ward Cup. They also had Ireland International Rules manager Pete McGrath in their corner, but the Pat's refused to flinch and showed what a resolute outfit they have become by grinding out another narrow victory. Favoured by the breeze in the first half, the Lordship side took a 0-6 to 0-2 lead into the interval thanks to scores from Karl White (two), Eamon Carroll (two), Paddy Keenan and Shane Hynes. Kickhams' first half scores were accounted for by Brendan O'Neill and Brian White. The first point of the second half didn't come until the 44th minute when Ray Finnegan's point stretched St. Pat's lead to 0-7 to 0-2. Cooley rallied in the final quarter, scoring four unanswered points per Robert Kearney, Brian White (two) and Sean O'Neill to close the gap to the minimum. In a gripping finale, the challengers had two chances to force a replay but Emmet Page and Darren White were boht off target as the Lordship men held on for a dramatic win. So, for the second year running, the Joe Ward Cup has found its home at Pairc Eamoin. And you wouldn't bet against them completing a hat-trick of successes in 2005!

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