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Sunday 23 September 2018

North End get it spot on

A dream realised as Sky Blues win penalty shoot-out

Overjoyed captain Paul ‘Spot’ Murphy lifts the FAI New Balance Junior Cup in the Aviva Stadium on Saturday. Photo by Eoin Noonan/Sportsfile
Overjoyed captain Paul ‘Spot’ Murphy lifts the FAI New Balance Junior Cup in the Aviva Stadium on Saturday. Photo by Eoin Noonan/Sportsfile

Dean Goodison in the Aviva Stadium

'I said to the lads, when you get to penalties it's just five shots away from winning an All-Ireland.'

North End manager John Godkin has been around the block, several times.

He knows what makes his players tick, and for better or worse he probably knows them as well as they know themselves, so his comments in the immediate aftermath of Saturday's historic FAI Junior Cup victory were as perceptive as ever.

'If someone said to you, "you've five shots on target and if you get all the five you win an All-Ireland", that's where you need cool-headed players.'

Other teams with different men wouldn't, actually couldn't, respond to that message, but Godkin knew exactly what his players would feed off.

Just five shots. Five perfect shots. In fact, five practiced shots.

'We practiced last night, we actually practiced penalties,' explained the North End bossman.

'We hadn't done it for a while, I just felt that don't leave any stone unturned.'

Lack of preparation is not something people could accuse Godkin of. After all, he's been doing everything possible for a quarter of a century to make this day a reality.

If you really needed 10,000 to reach an expert level, then he's been ready for this moment for a while.

But the interesting thing is that Godkin doesn't see this as the end of a process. No, this is the beginning of the future after the Wexford town team beat Pike Rovers 5-4 in a penalty shoot-out after the sides finished 1-1 after extra-time.

'Personally I think that's the start,' he said, before explaining: 'Clubs like Pike have been in four finals and they are used to this stage, they are used to this occasion.

'We had to get there first and I knew if we got there we could win it. Now it means we have opened up the gates for other people to believe.

'There were kids in that stadium today who will want to get out there some day and play for their local club.

'I think it's great for local soccer. I'm manager of the Wexford team at the moment, I have been for a number of years.

'I believe Wexford teams can believe in themselves now.

'We've done it for North End which is special, it's my club and I've been there for many years.

'I think we've done it for the county of Wexford too. Other teams and other clubs will now start believing and, in fairness to them, because of the competitiveness, they'll want to do it because North End have done it.'

That John, they certainly have. Whatever happens in the years to come, North End will always be the pioneers, the first winners.

No manager, or man, deserves it more.

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