These are exciting days to be a student or staff member in St Paul’s in Oughterard as they face into their first ever All-Ireland final at B level this Saturday in Carrick-On-Shannon at 2pm.
The reins of their senior team are held in the capable hands of Paddy Clancy and Mark Carr and their charges face a very tough challenge on Saturday against St Pius X from Magherafelt (Derry ).
The Oughterard lads had a fine 1-11 to 1-03 victory in the semi-final over Maynooth and they are hopeful that they can replicate that form this weekend.
Niall Walsh was their key scorer in that victory as he helped himself to 1-04 from full-forward in a sparkling display.
He is joined in the forward division by the exciting and talented Patrick and Cathal Sweeney and if that trio can get enough supply they will cause major headaches for the St Pius defence.
For that to happen they will need Damien Carter and David Walsh to do the business at midfield and their half-back line of Joe Shaughnessy, Liam Moran, and Edwin Murray to be on top of their game.
The team is captained this season by Stuart Upton from full-back and he is flanked by Clonbur’s David Wallace and Conor Carey.
Joint team manager Paddy Clancy knows that Saturday will be a hard game to win and a step up in class from the semi-final as St Pius X have more than 850 students on their roll. With some 400 male students and up to ten feeder clubs from Derry, Tyrone and Antrim feeding into their ranks they will take a lot of stopping.
That said; Clancy is very hopeful and quietly confident that the unity and commitment to the cause in their panel will see them through the tough times on Saturday.
“Our team is built upon the terrific work that clubs like Killanin, Oughterard, and Clonbur are putting in at under age level. Schools are totally inter-dependent on the work being done by the feeder clubs in their area at under-age level and most of our team have been getting good quality coaching at both club level and from Denis Carr who is a coach with the county football board and who has been a huge help to us in St Pauls. It is great to see the football board sending coaches into the schools and it is a big boost to those in charge of teams in schools.”
“We know that Saturday will be hard and we will have to be at our best, however we have some terrific players and a great squad and if we play to our potential we have every chance of success. Hopefully we will have good support down in Carrick for the game and we will give our supporters plenty to shout about.”
St Pauls has a total student population of about 370, with about 160 lads on their books and their last appearance in an All-Ireland final in senior football was in 2007 when they were narrowly defeated by Bandon after extra-time.
With a bit of luck the gods will shine on them more favourably on this occasion and see them come out with a narrow victory.