By Kieran Murphy
PART Nolan is a former Kildavin-Clonegal player who was centre-forward on the team which won the 1998 intermediate final against Asca. When he retired he got involved, with considerable success, in management.
He steered Ballon to an intermediate title in 2009 and three years later was manager when Fighting Cocks won the intermediate crown. In 2016 he was at the helm when Ballon shocked red-hot favourites Fenagh in the junior A final. Now he is back home and to win on Friday would be a dream come true for him.
“I would love to win one with my club. It is an ambition of mine and I am looking forward to it,” he says of the challenge.
The two teams who most people fancied to get there are now in the final.
“At the start of the year they were one of the teams that I felt we would be meeting in the semi-final or the final. They have a lot of experience,” says Nolan.
Daniel St Ledger is Kildavin-Clonegal’s big name player. Pat Nolan says his side are far from a one-man team.
“He has been colossal, as indeed have all the players. Liam Roberts is another intercounty player who has played really well for us. Daryl Roberts up front. Paul Kelly and John Kirwan are good men. The Hickeys. We have a nice balance to our team. Daniel has bought into it this year. He has trained really well. Everyone has. It has been massive. There is a great bond in the camp.
“In our team we have a lot of pacey fellas who have prepared well. I think that semi-final was a gigantic step for our team,” suggests Pat.
That bond was tested to the full in a re-fixed semi-final when Kildavin-Clonegal looked to be coasting against Naomh Eoin in the first half but the Myshall side hit back with two goals.
Then when the Wexford-border side reasserted themselves they had to settle for a draw when Naomh Eoin scored two late points. They made no mistake next time out winning by four points.
“It was a tough game. Our lads stood up really well in the first game when we conceded a couple of goals. Being four points up and then four points down, we showed great character to come back,” says Nolan.
The final has gone into late October now. Nolan doesn’t want any more rain.
“Hopefully the elements will be OK and both teams are allowed to express themselves. I hope it won’t be a bad, wet night. We are glad to be there. That was our goal at the start of the year and hopefully we are an hour from going up to senior.”
Path To The Final
Kildavin-Clonegal 2-8 Naomh Eoin 0-6; Kildavin-Clonegal 3-8 Éire Óg 0-7; Kildavin-Clonegal 2-22 Grange 1-10. Semi-final Kildavin-Clonegal 1-5 Naomh Eoin 0-5 (abandoned at half-time due to rain) Kildavin-Clonegal 1-9 Naomh Eoin 2-6; Kildavin 1-8 Naomh Eoin 0-7