St Patrick’s College will be looking to plant their foot in a ninth consecutive Herald Sun Shield final when they take on Essendon and Keilor College on Wednesday.
In a truly remarkable run of consistency, St Pat’s will be hoping to make it seven shield victories out of nine attempts if they can navigate their way through the semi-final.
The theme driving this year’s crop has been redemption. Last year the school suffered an agonising one-point defeat at the hands of St Joseph’s College in the final. Coach Howard Clark said his side are determined to atone for that defeat.
“I have a photograph of the boys after last year’s final and there was a look of devastation. We keep coming back to that day. We want to go one better this year,” Clark said.
For Clark, there are many factors this year that mean his side are better placed to win the competition than they were last year.
“We’ve certainly got more depth than last year, we are probably a four or five goal better side this year,” he said.
While the formatting of the Herald Sun Shield means that St Pat’s automatically enter at the semi-final stage for winning the BAS competition, Clark would one day like to see the competition return to its original format where all sides play three group games – although he understands that the administrators are wary of overloading TAC Cup players.
“Last year we were probably underdone because of the way the scheduling works, but this year we’ve had 9-10 really good hit-outs against strong opposition so there’ll be no excuses from our end,” Clark said.
The school has become a formidable force in the competition and Clark puts their dominance down to one key thing. Culture.
“There has been a great culture left behind by previous players and the boys playing now are acutely aware of how important it is to continue that great legacy,” he said.
While Clark doesen’t know a whole lot about Essendon and Keilor College which boasts several Calder Cannons players, he knows his side will need to be at their best.
“We’ve got to try and utilise our height advantage, but that may be neutralised by the wet weather we are expecting so we will really need to bring a strong contested game to win.
The game will be played at 2pm on Wednesday at the Trevor Barker Oval in Sandringham.