Manager Ned Rushe was on cloud nine after his St Pat’s Palmerstown senior hurlers returned to the top flight of the game in Dublin after they claimed the AHL Division 2 crown with three games left to play.
They had impressed in every match played in the league up to the break in late July, with seven wins from seven and a significant points advantage on their league competitors.
But with a two-month lay-off courtesy of the Dublin championship and All-Ireland matches, there was concern that the team would find themselves off the pace when the league resumed.
That proved far off the mark when they took to the field against Erin’s Isle in Celbridge last week. Establishing an early five-point lead with scores from Aidan Glennon and Peter Keaney, St Pat’s went on to dominate the second half, with Dave O’Hanlon scoring 1-2, his goal an impressive combination with key free taker Shane Stapleton.
Rushe was effusive in his praise when he spoke to Gazette Sport last week, and was immediately able to pinpoint the magic formula that had propelled his side’s progress in the league this season.
“They wanted to get out of that league. They have been in it for a few years, they want to play some new teams and make it a little more challenging for themselves.
“To be fair to them, this match was the first time we have had Liam Rushe available to play for the club. They have won seven out of seven without their intercounty player. They are a good enough squad to be able to do that without him.”
Rushe said that the side had gone into the game determined to put their championship defeat against Division 1’s Ballyboden St Enda’s behind them.
“Considering we were hammered out of the gate by Ballyboden, it shows the measure of the team.
“We hadn’t had a match from July 20 through to September 27 down to the way that the fixtures fell. That momentum we had built up through the start of the season went by the wayside.”
In spite of bowing out of the championship to St Brigid’s last weekend after a heroic performance that had them level with their opponents with just three minutes to play, Rushe still has aspirations for the team before 2013 ends.
“The fact that the teams we still have to play were in championship action has meant that we are three games behind in the league. We would like to finish the league out unbeaten.”