A rare achievement in any sport and St Patrick’s College has done so as the best schoolboy football team in the state. St Pats emphatically claimed a third consecutive MCC-Herald Sun Shield title at the MCG yesterday.
They dug deep in a massive second half to bury brother school St Bernard’s College by 57 points.
The game had been in the balance at half-time with St Pat’s holding an eight-point buffer.
Their victory makes St Pat’s history – it is the first time the school has won the premier schoolboy competition three years in a row and they have done so from a fourth consecutive Shield final.
Only two players, Nick Rippon and Jake Neade, have played in all three Shield premierships.
St Patrick’s College coach Howard Clark, released from hospital three hours before game time with a viral infection, said it was “really satisfying and just a relief” to taste victory again.
“Any team can win one premiership, very very good teams win two and outstanding teams can win three in a row and this team can be outstanding,” Clark said. “The thing about St Pat’s is everyone expects us to roll up and win – it just doesn’t happen like that. I’m incredibly proud of them”
Dallas Willsmore produced a four-goal third term to help St Pat’s shake off St Bernard’s.
Onballer Nick Rippon was awarded the Neale Daniher Medal for best afield, impressing with his hard-nosed approach, spark near the goal face and strong marking play.
Forward Dan Butler, playmaker Matt Crouch, wingman Dom Barry and defenders Matt Short and Nathan Haylock were all among the best for St Pat’s.
But Clark maintained each and every player he sent out on the MCG was proudly representing the broader St Pat’s community and the wider Ballarat region.
Old boys were sending messages from as far as Canada.
AFL and Ballarat’s Brown twins Mitch (West Coast Eagles) and Nathan (Collingwood) sent text messages.
Hawk Clinton Young, preparing to play on the ‘G after St Pat’s, popped in to the rooms to wish the team the best.
Clark said it was simply humbling how much support was behind St Pat’s.
“Enjoy this moment. Enjoy the opportunity you’ve created,” Clark told players post-match. “You’ll remember this forever.”
With that, players regroup for another rendition of the school’s war cry – just to ensure all supporters who travelled to watch could hear them sing.