Twenty years ago he did it as a player with Castlebar Mitchels and on Sunday in Hyde Park, Pat Holmes from the sideline guided Castlebar Mitchels to their first Connacht title since the manager was lining out on the field himself in the red and yellow of the county town. Immediately after the game, Holmes said he was just happy to have got the win in the titanic struggle. “It ebbed and flowed up and down, it's hard to remember all the events that went on in the game. We're just delighted to have won the game.” Going in at half-time five points down and then managing to work themselves into a big lead midway through the second half, many would have expected that Holmes' gave some rousing speech at half-time to get his side riled up for the second half, but the main man himself said there was none of that at all. “We just knew that we hadn't played to our potential in the first half and we also said we'd been five points down against Corofin and we had won the game. So we knew that it wasn't insurmountable and that if we went out and played to our potential and the idea was to try and go out in the second half and work harder.”
When influential midfielder Barry Moran was sent to the line early in the second half, it could have been terminal to the Castlebar charge that had just build up, but they put the foot to the floor even more after the decision. There was no set plan to deal with such an event happening Holmes said.
“No, we had a good run at that stage and when you get a man sent off sometimes it gets you to work harder to try and compensate. We had no plan, the team made their decisions and went out and played to their potential.”
Castlebar really piled on the pressure in extra time, with their younger legs with less miles on the clock really coming to the fore, something that Holmes agreed with when it was put to him. “We've worked hard, but we're a young team and there was bit of freshness about us, where as Brigid's have been on the go for over four years. They are a phenomenal team, but we got a bit of legs on them towards the end.”
Getting over the line in Mayo this year after so many near misses has seen Castlebar play with a bit less pressure and expectation on them in the Connacht championship. Holmes said, it may be an advantage, but nothing major as they just take it one game at a time. “Possibly, the case, but we've always approached games one at at time it's just about winning the game and that's how we approached it today.”