Four minutes into injury time at the end of normal time, Monasterevan were staring down the barrel of an agonising defeat.
Wayne Fitzpatrick, one of his side’s leading lights for some years now, stood over a free 35 metres from goal and there was never any doubt. The unerring attacker had only been giving the opportunity from a couple of placed balls earlier in the game, but when he stepped up to a far from routine attempt he showed complete confidence by splitting the posts and sending the game to extra-time.
“I felt ok – I felt alright,” smiled Fitzpatrick when asked about how he felt standing over that free.
“If you have a routine you stick to it and if it goes over, it goes over.”
Fitzpatrick went on to kick three of his side’s four points in extra-time, ensuring they edged over the line and into a county final against Two Mile House.
He admits that at times this year it looked highly improbable that his side would make it to a county final, losing their opening two games in the championship and also suffering relegation from Division 2 of the league.
They have regrouped superbly, and momentum has been built as the year has gone on. Fitzpatrick reckons the boost of having DJ Earley, John O’Toole and Padraig Nash returning to their ranks after winning the U20 All-Ireland has been key to their upturn in form.
“We started badly,” pondered Fitzpatrick.
“We lost to Ballymore in the first round and then we lost to Two Mile House, but we’re after kicking on since then. Our fitness is coming up every single game and everyone is getting that bit of belief and we’re in a final now and anything can happen. It’s mad how you can just turn around your year. Two losses and to just turn it around, but it’s all about momentum – you get one win and you kick on.
“After losing our first two games and getting relegated from Division 2 we probably thought no chance, but the team is full of confidence. There are three boys there now after winning an U20 All-Ireland and they came back and brought that belief and lifted all of us. We’re just delighted to be in a final now.”
The corner-forward is hoping that the momentum built over the last few weeks can carry his side through to the final and hopefully cause a shock. There were plenty of tired bodies around the Monasterevan dressing room after more than 80 minutes of intense action, but the adrenaline of playing on county final could provide some serious impetus for the blues.
“I think, after the replay, we have more momentum going into the final because you’re straight into it again and you’re getting ready to go, especially after a tough game like that,” said Fitzpatrick.
“Momentum will bring you into it and hopefully we’ll kick on.
“We have a tough game against Two Mile House who are a brilliant side and they beat us already this year, but we’re coming out hungry to try and get revenge on them.
“A lot of our team went and watched the semi-final last week between them and Nurney. It’s not being cocky or anything, it’s just to see if you do get in to see what happens. We’ll see how we go next week; anything can happen, it’s 60 minutes of football so you just turn up and give it your all.”
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