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Stephen Reilly remains a key performer for Palatine.
Stephen Reilly remains a key performer for Palatine.

Palatine busy building for the future

By Cian O’Connell

For 54 years Palatine waited and wondered. Between 1952 and 2006 Palatine craved to win a Carlow Senior Football Championship.

So when the Palatine flag was placed on the summit of the Carlow game once more it was crucial to ensure that such a gap never had to be bridged again.

In the intervening 13 years Palatine have remained relevant. That carries weight and a degree of satisfaction, but there is no disguising the sense of ambition accompanying Sunday’s decider against standard bearers Eire Og at Netwatch Cullen Park.

Eire Og, the most prolific outfit in the competition, with 28 previous triumphs bring tradition and talent, but Palatine will be striving to avenge the 2018 defeat at the same stage.

Still what gives Palatine enthusiasts most satisfaction, though, during the past couple of decades is how they have built on the solid foundation established in the successful 2006 adventure.

“Everything sprung from there to be honest about it,” former Palatine Chairman Frank McGarry admits. We have been improving since then.”

On and off the field of play there has been development and for that reason McGarry is encouraged about the future.

“A lot of work has gone in and we have spent a lot of money,” McGarry says. “In 2011 we spent about 700,000 euro. It is all new with a running track, lights, the pitch is the size of Croke Park, 145x90 metres.”

With a much improved infastructure Palatine have invested time and resources into an expanding and respected juvenile section.

Palatine players following their Carlow SFC Semi-Final victory.
Palatine players following their Carlow SFC Semi-Final victory.

“We've won minor titles and the underage part of the club is huge,” McGarry stresses. “We start from Under 6s with teams at 8s, 10s, 12s, 14s. We would be a big enough club in Carlow with 600 members.”

McGarry’s son Eddie has contributed to the coaching in the club and that type of commitment and respect for the Palatine cause passes through families in the area.

“We have a very big juvenile section. Eddie was over minors, under 12s, and 14s teams. We have a lot of people who have tried to put a lot back into the club over the last 10 or 15 years.

“We won in 2006, we hadn't won it for 54 years before that. We have won it twice since and we have lost two finals. In our last four finals, we have won two and lost two.”

Unsurprisingly there is no shortage of excitement ahead of the impending battle with a potent Eire Og. McGarry has been impressed with how Palatine have introduced emerging young footballers into the senior ranks during recent campaigns.

“We have never beaten Eire Og in a final...yet,” McGarry laughs.

“There is always a first time. We have lost four inter-county players from the club, some lads went travelling. We are down bodies, but we have a lot of young lads, they have brought us to the final.

“We have a good crowd of young lads, they have brought us to the final.”

The ultimate test in Carlow awaits now and it promises to be interesting seeing how Palatine fare.

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