Davitts captain Michael Conroy (top) pictured at a press reception at Croke Park in advance of next Sunday's All-Ireland intermediate club final against Milltown-Castlemaine
Wednesday, 08 February 2012 11:51
THE final chapter in Davitts remarkable journey over the past year is about to be written as they prepare to hit for Croke Park for the All-Ireland intermediate club football final against Kerry and Munster champions, Milltown-Castlemine, on Sunday next.
There is no reason why this final chapter wont have the heading, All-Ireland champions, as Davitts have already shown over the past year they are more than a match for any side in the intermediate grade.
Much has been written about Davitts exploits on their way to winning the county and the Connaught finals and their All-Ireland semi-final victory, which leaves them just 60 minutes away from winning the biggest prize in club intermediate Gaelic football.
Getting this far has all been down to the overall team performances. Time and time again we have seen that the main reason they have come out on top is the displays put in from one to 15.
In the early months of last year Davitts, under new manager Pete Warren, showed good form and won the prestigious south Mayo OMara Cup. While they also showed up very well in the Mayo senior league, few - including many of their loyal supporters could foresee what great success they were to have. The simple reason for this was that in the previous 29 years, while they promised a lot, they just failed to deliver. Many good Davitts teams down through the years came unstuck on the big days and they lost many games they should have won.
But all of these many disappointments and hard luck stories have been put to bed for good by the unbelievable success of this present team over the past months.
Winning the county title after a 30-year wait was the prize the Davitts team, club and supporters wanted. Such was their long wait for county honours they wished for nothing more.
After winning their first game in the Mayo championship against Kiltimagh in Ballindine in brilliant style there was a belief they were on the right road and had a side which was capable of going all the way. But such was their bad luck down through the years no one in the club and indeed the entire parish looked beyond the next match.
After many good wins they progressed to the county final and were up against a good Burrishoole team who had the experience of being in the county final the previous year. But Davitts again upped it a notch in the decider and while they had to fight very hard in the end were the deserving winners. There were scenes of great joy and jubilation among everyone associated with Davitts GAA Club because at last, a Davitts senior team had produced the goods and brought great honour and glory to the area.
Winning the county title was all that was wanted. There were never really any thoughts of trying to win the Connaught title until the days after the county final celebrations settled down. Now on the crest of a wave, Davitts settled into preparations for having a go at winning the Connaught title.
They defeated a very good Leitrim side in the semi-final and before anyone really noticed, they were in the Connaught final, which they had to play six days after winning the semi-final in Carrick-on-Shannon.
Playing the Roscommon champions Padraig Pearses in their home ground in the decider was a massive task for Davitts. But they just blew them away to take the Connaught crown and suddenly they found themselves in an All-Ireland semi-final.
Between the Connaught final and All-Ireland semi-final game there was the distraction of the festive season. But the Davitts players just wanted more success and this great hunger resulted in them casting aside their annual Christmas celebrations to continue their preparations.
Playing Wicklow and Leinster champions ire g in the semi-final they produced another five-star team performance to win with ease. This victory meant their dream prize of playing in an All-Ireland final in Croke Park was realised.
On Sunday they face Kerry champions Milltown-Castlemine, for the biggest prize of all. I cant see any reason why this prize wont be making its way to Ballindine and Irishtown next Sunday evening.
When you preview any game you mostly highlight different players and areas of a team which you think can prove to be the difference between winning and losing. With regard to Davitts this is not the case because what has brought them to where they are today has been a team effort.
Going back to their first game in the intermediate championship against Kiltimagh, Davitts have come out on top in every game thanks to an all-round team performance. What we saw from them in the Connaught final was a team performance at its best where from one to 15 each and every player played their part. In the All-Ireland semi-final it was no different.
The work rate, determination and willingness to fight for every ball by every player on the team are the main reasons why they are contesting an All-Ireland final on Sunday.
Davitts just play the simple game by letting the ball do the work. The quick long ball out of defence and into their forwards has reaped its rewards. This game plan, I am sure, will again be in action on Sunday and should cause the Kerry side all sorts of problems.
But like Davitts, Milltown-Castlemaines feat in getting to the All-Ireland final is also a great achievement as they had to produce the goods on the field of play against some very good sides to reach the decider.
But, in a separate article, we will see how they had to ride their luck on a few occasions before booking their spot in the All-Ireland final.
However, what we can expect is the Kerry champions will travel to Croke Park full of confidence, as all Kerry teams do. Be it county or club teams, they just feel they can win every time they take the field. Thats their tradition and belief, and as a result it is what gets them over the line on plenty of occasions.
But this is a different scenario for them as they will be facing the unknown. While the same can be said for Davitts, at least they will be well aware they will be up against a very tough and good team and nothing less than a big performance will be required to beat them. A Kerry team knowning little about their opposition could catch them out as their arrogance of thinking they are able to beat any team could cost them dearly.
It promises to be a great decider and should be close. Davitts have produced many breathtaking team performances on the lead up to Sundays decider and one more will be required to see-off the challenge Milltown-Castlemine. They know they face a quality side as any Kerry team is never easy to beat. However, if they reproduce the kind of displays we have seen from them in the county and Connaught finals and last months victory over ire g, it is hard to see any club side living with them.