Tomorrow afternoon Davitt College Castlebar will go to Ballinasloe looking to put the memory of five defeats in All Ireland finals behind them and bring home a national crown to the school. Standing in their way on Saturday when the ball is thrown in at 2pm in Ballinasloe is Leinster champions Cnoc Mhuire, Granard.
Davitt College overcame Munster champions Clonakilty in the semi-final last Saturday in Ennis, while their opponents saw off St Joseph’s, Coalisland, in their semi final. Davitt College coaches David Nevin and Kevin Donnellan have their side well prepared for the final, but they are not taking anything for granted as Nevin explained. “We’ve been keeping it calm and low key, we’ve been doing an hours training every day this week, just to keep the lads ticking over, nothing hectic. The lads themselves have been very cool and calm about it, they are not getting carried away about the game. It was a great achievement [winning the semi-final], we had a real hard fought won semi-final last week. The lads played the game plan well and it came off in the end against a very good Clonakilty side. It is only a one week turnaround, but that suits us. It was straight back to business with the game on Saturday.”
The win over Clonakilty by 0-9 to 0-7 saw Davitt College have to dig in at the end and grind out the win, something that pleased Nevin. “We got off to a good start and pushed ourselves into the lead near the end. But they came back and pulled the game level with five minutes to go, the game seemed to have switched towards them. But we dug in, went up the field, and kicked two points. From then on in it was backs against the wall stuff, where we nearly had everyone back defending and we managed to close them down at every opportunity.” While the win over a fancied Clonakilty side will have Davitt College in fine form going into the game, Nevin knows that nothing will come easy on Saturday. “From what we know Granard are a very tough, big physical team and they came through a semi-final against the Ulster champions. We all know that any side that comes out of Ulster is going to be tough and any side that beats them is going to be tough.”
During the 1990s up to 2000 getting to All Ireland finals became second nature to Davitt College with them reaching five in the space of eight years, only to come up short in all of them. Nevin is looking forward to getting the chance to put that to right this weekend and is expecting a big support from the students past and present. “It’s been a while for the school, we got to All Ireland finals in 92, 94, 94, 98, and 2000 before losing all of them. We have a chance now to put that right on Saturday. We’ve had lots of messages of support from former players over the week and a good lot of them are planning to make it to the game in Ballinasloe on Saturday along with supporters from the school. We should have a good crowd down there and that will be a big boost to the lads. We’ve got a good spread of players from all the five clubs in the area, so it will be a big day for all the clubs around Castlebar.”