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Strong sense of identity driving St. Pat's Castleisland forward
By John Harrington
The reason St. Pats, Castleisland are in tomorrows Masita Post Primary Schools All-Ireland SFC C Final is because theyve worked hard to maximise their potential.
Theyre a small school of about 200 pupils, but when it comes to football theyre very well drilled both on and off the pitch.
The town of Castleisland lies in a geographical basin and young footballers from surrounding villages like Knocknagoshel, Cordal, Brosna, Scartaglin, Currow, and Ballymacelligott are washed down to it.
School-teachers and team-mentors, Pa McCarthy and John OSullivan, have made a point of developing strong links with all of the schools surrounding clubs, and that has been a big part of their success story.
Pa was training the Kerry minors for the last two years so he's very big into that notion of getting the clubs to buy into what we're doing as well, says OSullivan.
The clubs are doing a huge amount of work and we just try to put a gloss on that by binding these guys together.
There's a real sense of identity about this team, maybe more so that other teams we've had before. And that's very much down to that ethos.
The clubs have been very supportive. When the weather has been bad they've made their pitches available to us for matches and maybe you mightn't always expect that. Even on wet days we were getting pitches, so they've really looked after us.
A vibrant club-school link should be the golden goose for both clubs and schools alike because wherever you go its the most reliable indicator for on-pitch success.
Its sometimes easier to achieve in theory than in practice, so how have St. Pats and their satellite clubs made it work so well?
It's communication, says McCarthy. As soon as we have a fixture we get the message out to the clubs and we try to get the same back from them and just try to work together and get them to see that we're not working against them, we're trying to work with them and what we are doing in the school can benefit them and what they do in the club will benefit us.
With good communication everything can be managed. We've had a hectic schedule with minor county leagues on at the moment in Kerry so all our boys were playing football at the weekend and now will be playing an All-Ireland this weekend.
You'd prefer obviously if you had them fully to yourself but it is what it is. They're playing football and they're winning games and growing in confidence so you just try to take the positives from that.
In attendance at the Masita All-Ireland Post Primary Schools Captains Call at Croke Park in Dublin were, from left, Chair of the GAA National Post Primary Schools Committee Liam OMahony, Ran O'Connell of O'Carolan College, Cathal and Jack McElligott of St Pats Castleisland.
St. Pats have displayed admirable character as well as ability to make it to Saturdays Final.
They trailed to Dunmore CS in the All-Ireland semi-final by 12 points at one stage but battled back from there to win it in extra-time.
Yeah, it was hugely dramatic, says OSullivan. The first three lines of the report in the local paper were 'the last time there was a comeback of this magnitude, there was a group of apostles gathered around an empty tomb in Jerusalem'
We were 12 points down in the second half but we ground it back bit by bit by bit. Got a draw to go to extra-time and then scored a goal in the last 30 seconds to win the match.
They were a seriously good team, they had won the 'A' championship in Galway, beating St. Jarlath's in the semi-final and The Bish St Josephs Patrician in the Final, so they were excellent.
St Pats will face another seriously tough opponent in Saturdays Final in the shape of OCarolan College, Nobber, who include four All-Ireland winning minor footballers in their ranks.
The Meath school have swept all before them on the way to the Final, winning their six games by an average of 20 points.
St. Pats will be up against it, but team coach McCarthy is confident theyll rise to the occasion.
All you can do is focus on yourself and that's what we've done all year, he says. We'll work on our own performance and see where that takes us. We've a great group, they've shown massive resilience and character in the semi-final and that will stand to them.
They were up against a really good side in the Galway 'A' champions so they'll take confidence from that. They're just looking forward to getting going now really.
We've been saying to the lads that getting to an All-Ireland Final is a massive honour. But when you get to an All-Ireland Final with your best friends it becomes a privilege.
The pressure is off, they're in an All-Ireland Final and it's bonus territory. It's a privilege to be there and we're just looking for them to give their best like they always do.