Belief building for underdogs Patrician High

By Kieran Lynch

FEW would have predicted that last year’s MacLarnon Cup champions Patrician High School, Carrickmacross would reach this year’s MacRory Cup semi-final, but they’re not here to make up the numbers says manager Paddy Martin.

A surprise victory over St Ronan’s, Lurgan set Patrician up to qualify from their group, and after that they dispatched Our Lady’s, Castleblayney in the play-off round. Last time out, they stunned last year’s winners St Mary’s, Magherafelt, and Martin says that belief is now starting to flow.

They now face Omagh on Saturday at Monaghan Harps (2pm).

“At the start of the year, we were put into the ‘A’ competition, because we had a good run last year in the ‘B’ competition.

“But there wasn’t really much of an expectation to be honest coming into this year,” he said.

“But we decided that we were going to approach the season as best as we could, and step by step, we seem to be getting better all the time, which is all that we can ask for – and a bit of belief is coming from that.”

Against Magherafelt, Patrician goalkeeper Oran Finnegan was instrumental in the first half as they weathered the storm against the wind, before they clawed the game back in the second half with a Matthew Carolan goal and a stoppage-time equaliser from Kian Duffy sending the game into extra-time.

And in the added period, all that was needed was a penalty goal from James Maguire to seal a famous victory. However, just how famous it was, was probably lost on the team initially, which was a good thing according to Martin.

“I think the good thing about it was, that it was only really after the game that we probably realised how big of an underdog achievement it was,” he explained. When we were going up the road to Ballinderry, we probably didn’t even realise that ourselves, and it is maybe just as well that we didn’t because maybe then fear would have seeped through. But instead, we went up the road thinking that we had every chance.

“The game was played in horrible conditions, but I have to say we were very impressed with Magherafelt’s sportsmanship and their attitude. Of course they are a very strong team having won it last year, so it was a good win for us.”

Up next is another difficult challenge for Patrician as they face traditional heavyweights Omagh CBS, who have hot prospects Conor Owens and Eoin McElholm amongst their ranks.

However, Patrician will carry with them the same belief that they have had all year and as last weekend showed, anything is possible.

“I have been teaching in the school for 30 years, and we have always been traditionally a ‘B’ school, and it must be 15 to 20 years since we were last in the MacRory Cup,” said Martin.

“The boys decided at the start of the year ‘let’s give this a crack.’ Did we think it would take us to the semi-final? Probably not, but it was all about taking it one step at a time.

“We have no doubt that what we’re facing in Omagh will be a David versus Goliath sort of match, because we’re facing a team with a lot of players who were on the Tyrone minor squad.

“But, if we play the game and not the occasion, then we will be quite happy.”

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