Bidding to bridge 31 year gap

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ST PETER’S will attempt to bridge a 31 year gap when they face Killeavy on Saturday night at the Athletic Grounds in the Intermediate Championship final.

The Armagh City ground was a very different place when the Whites defeated Keady back in the 1981 final, in fact the venue was renovated following the Intermediate final which was played on a waterlogged pitch which certainly did not allow for free flowing football.

St Peter’s had a fairly comfortable win on that occasion and they had a lot of good players on their side with county men like Seamus and Brian McGeown and Gerry Harte providing the back bone to the team along with Gerard Doran and Gerard Clarke.

A well converted Brian McGeown penalty cushioned the Whites to victory that day, a game which the Whites man remembers well. Brian said, “To be honest, the game was a fairly poor affair. There were puddles of water everywhere, the pitch was barely playable but the final went ahead considering that the Athletic Grounds were closing after the game for refurbishing work.”

Ironically, Brian McGeown was one of the few players who came through from a very good St Peter’s minor side which won the north Armagh league, the all-county league and the all-county championship back in 1972 and few would argue that, in recent times, St Peter’s minor teams were well capable of winning further all-county minor titles. The Whites have made steady improvement under the stewardship of St Louis’, Kilkeel teacher Steven McVeigh who has guided the Lurgan side to a Division Three title and the North Street side sit top of the second flight and have a real chance of playing Division One football next season.

For the moment though, they will be focusing on the pending battle with Killeavey on Saturday night. The Whites will benefit from two tough games against Wolfe Tones in the semi-final. They were comfortable winners against Silverbridge in the quarter-final but Brian McGeown believes it was the one point win over Shane O’Neill’s in a previous round which saw the ‘coming of age’ of the young Freecrow team.

“I wouldn’t want to be disrespectful to the Tones,” stressed Brian. “The two games we played against them took a lot of winning, but the one point win over Shane O’Neill’s convinced me that the side were ready to contest for an Intermediate title. At one stage against the Shanes we were four of five behind, they were a big physical team who could play a bit, but our boys showed great resolve to get over the line”.

The Whites will, of course, enter Saturday’s final as underdogs, but they lack nothing in fitness and determination according to Brian McGeown who is a Whites man through and through and would be seen to support his club at all levels. “The boys have been finishing games well,” he said, “To be honest, I have been following St Peter’s teams for a long time but the quarter-final win over Silverbridge was, in pure football terms, the best performance I had seen in a modern era from a St Peter’s team.

“The boys were fantastic that day, but they have also had wins were they had to grind out a result; all of that helps build character,” concluded the Whites stalwart.

St Peter’s will sample a training session under lights this week at Davitt Park as their build up continues to Saturday’s big game. The venue will have changed a lot since Brian McGeown and his team mates last won an Intermediate title but the mission is the same. A young and progressing team face their biggest challenge under their current manager; they have come through the hard part of the draw to reach Saturday’s final and their mobility up front will no doubt cause Killeavy a lot of problems.