By Kevin Regan
“In the heel of the hunt I reckon Palatine will stay in this game right up until the final quarter and at this stage I feel that Vincent’s will draw upon their vast experience to see off the Carlow Champions.”
The above quote is taken from the preview I scribbled together ahead of Palatine’s meeting with St Vincent’s in the Leinster Senior Club Championship yesterday.
And true enough this is actually how the game transpired.
Palatine trailed by just two points as the game entered the final quarter but Vinny’s found another gear and rattled off a series of scores which gave them a 0-16 to 0-8 victory.
There are a couple of ways that you could interpret this Palatine performance.
If you were told you would be only trailing by two points at half time to the All Ireland Favourites would you have taken it? Absolutely Yes.
Should Palatine have been on Parity or ahead at the break? Again I would say yes.
The Carlow Champions enjoyed the lions share of possession in the opening half and for long spells they were the better team. Unfortunately though their finishing in that period was simply not up to scratch.
When Diarmuid Connolly received his marching orders for a black card in the 19th minute, Palatine’s dander was up and with Enda Varley being held very well you suddenly thought that Pal may actually have a chance of causing the mother of all upsets.
However in the second half Cormac Diamond and Shane Carthy really stepped up to the plate and they managed 0-8 from play between them over the 60 minutes. Mossy Quinn also helped himself to a couple of points from play when things started to open up a bit.
You must give Palatine huge credit though. They started with three 18 year olds in their line up and all three produced performances which belied their tender years.
Conor O’Doherty put the shackles on Enda Varley, Shane O’Neill popped two points from play in the first half and Conor Crowley won loads of ball in the full forward line.
Tomas Kenny found himself on a mountain of ball too, and had Palatine been clinical enough then who knows what might have happened.
The one thing Pal have done this season is that they have proved beyond doubt that they are the best team in this county, and maybe in 2017 people will give them a little bit more credit which they didn’t get in 2016.
For now though I would hope that every player that’s called in to the county set up for 2017 will make the commitment and that goes for every other club in Carlow too, because if this happens then getting out of Division 4 becomes a more realistic target.