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Rising Pat's take seat at top table

UP over the little bridge and Smyth's it's there on the right. Turning back the pages to many years ago when Robbie Farrell sat in the back snug to talk about his beloved St Patrick's of Donabate.

Now, the club's home is called after him. It must have the most scenic entrance on the circuit. Ornate iron gates and a long, tree-lined driveway that sweeps up to the club grounds.

The crowds arrived last Saturday evening. Green and black abounded. Teas, coffees and ice-creams. The children were smiling. It was party time. Pat's were presented with the Adult Football League Division 2 trophy.

Remarkably, it's their third successive promotion. Chairman John Collins reveals the spark came from taking part in Celebrity Bainisteoir. They didn't enjoy success there "but the fellas realised they had potential".

"It was summer time. We went on a little run and secured the second promotion spot to Division 3 and we have now exceeded all expectations," he said.

HISTORY

Pat's won Division 3, entering senior football for the first time in their history. They were formed in 1924.

And in 2014 they will run out in Division 1. John salutes manager Adrian Henchy and his colleagues.

"He brought a sense of control and calmness. He brought in young lads at the deep end. He built a squad as well as a capable team," he said. "And it was all done from the grassroots.

"We are a parish in the traditional sense of the word. We have no imports. We focused on developing our juvenile structure over the years and this is the culmination of it."

Back in 1980, Pat's won the Dublin Junior Championship.

"They were still talking about that in the parish until a few years ago. We then managed to win it again and that broke the mental ceiling. It gave us the bit of confidence that we could play at a different level," John said.

The Patrick's home looked a picture in the sunshine. Mick Duignan has given years of service at the venue. He had the grounds looking like the Botanic Gardens.

The chairman says that the spirit of the senior squad is echoing through the corridors.

"We have a flourishing academy. We have 100 kids at under-8 every Saturday morning," he said.

"This was the first year we had boys teams at all levels to minor. We have four ladies teams and we began hurling four years ago.

FAMILIES

"The hurlers got promoted last year and they are in the play-offs again."

Having a Division 1 senior football address is the cream and the custard. "We have fellas on the team from the same families or maybe next-door neighbours," he said.

"They represent the whole peninsula. That is what this team is all about.

"We have managed to build a real sense of club and parish. GAA is the real heart-beat of Donabate."

Just like the great Robbie Farrell was and indeed all the saintly heroes that stood on the bridge.


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