KILDARE Vocational Schools, who captured the Leinster title when defeating Dublin at St. Conleth’s Park, Newbridge a few weeks ago, now take on Connacht champions, Mayo, for a place in the All Ireland Vocational Schools final. The game is fixed for this Saturday in Ardagh, Co. Longford, with a 2.30pm throw-in writes TOMMY CALLAGHAN.
Managed by Declan Cryan, assisted by Noel Mooney and Sean McEvoy, this is a talented Kildare side, who despite losing out to Dublin in the opening game (after extra time) buckled down and came successfully through the ‘second chance saloon’ to take on and defeat Dublin in the Leinster final by 2-11 to 2-8.
Even that scoreline does not do justice to Kildare who with five minutes remaining led their opponents by 2-11 to 1-5.
Star of the show, and not for the first time, was Wayne Fitzpatrick from St. Paul’s of Monasterevin with a personal tally of 2-7.
It was an extremely impressive display from Fitzpatrick who has shown throughout this campaign just what a prospect he is.
Meanwhile over in Connacht Mayo got the better of Leitrim in provincial decider on a scoreline of 0-7 to 0-6. Mayo dominated the opening period and led by three points at the interval after Leitrim failed to raise a white flag until the 27 the minute, the only they managed in that half.
It was a different Leitrim that re-emerged on the resumption and slowly but surely got themselves back into the game and with ten minutes there was just one point separating the sides.
Midfielder Robbie Fadden pushed Mayo two clear with nine minutes remaining and while Leitrim had their chances, it was Mayo’s stout-hearted defending that saw them through to the All Ireland semi final and a date with Kildare on Saturday next.
Kildare boss, Declan Cryan, admitted to the Leinster Leader this week that he knows little about this weekend’s opposition but said that football in Mayo is exceptionally strong at the minute and he was expecting a major challenge from the Connacht champions.
He expects Conor Davin (Maynooth PP) to be back in contention for the game, the centre forward missed out through injury in the Leinster final while corner back, Hugh Faherty, also from Maynooth PP, who was forced off early in that game against Dublin, will be fully fit to take his regular spot at no. 2.
“Overall and allowing for a few knocks here and there we expect to be close to full strength” said Cryan, however he insists that Kildare will have to perform to the best of their ability for the full sixty minutes plus if they are to progress to an All Ireland final.
“We have a tendency, for some reason, to take our foot off the pedal when in control, we did it against Meath and again against Dublin which gave us some anxious moments before getting through on both occasions” said the Maynooth teacher.
Overall Kildare look an extremely well balanced side; good defenders with team captain Thomas O’Connell (Rathangan), Brian Nolan (Castledermot) and Evan Dempsey (St. Farnan’s) catching the eye.
Midfield pairing of Aaron Bannon Whelan (Rathangan) and Gary Savage (Confey) are useful players but it is up front where Kildare’s greatest strength seems to lie.
Players of the calibre of Cathal Jennings (Confey), Emmet O’Keeffe (Castledermot) and Neil Flynn (Maynooth) will punish any defence if given the opportunity while Wayne Fitzpatrick looks at this stage of his development to possess all the skills that the modern day football forward requires. A player of immense talent and major potential.
Hopefully on Saturday Fitzpatrick and the rest of his colleagues can book a place in the All Ireland decider but as manager Cryan rightly insists, to do so will require concentration and focus for the entire duration of the game, anything less and they could see their dream shattered.