St Catherine High have won only one senior schoolboy football title in their history. They went to the final of the Inter-secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA)/Digicel Walker Cup and won the trophy in 2019 and now they stand on the cusp of retaining the title, something for which their winning Coach Anthony Patrick is desperate to achieve.
“It would mean a lot. In 2019, we went to the final for the first time as a school and we won,” recalled Patrick, who has also won the Manning Cup title with Bridgeport High School.
Now history beckons for a second time for St Catherine High and Patrick wants to write another famous chapter in the school's history.
“No competition in 2020, now this season we are the defending champions and we are back in the final, so we just have to put our best foot forward and keep the title,” he said.
But despite returning to the final with a chance to make it two from two, St Catherine were very underwhelming in their semi-final match with Excelsior High School which was a repeat of the 2019 final itself.
The two teams played out a 1-1 draw in regulation time which was followed by a bizarre penalty shoot-out in which only three of the 10 penalties taken were converted.
The first seven penalties were missed before St Catherine High scored two and Excelsior converted just one from 12 yards.
Patrick has admitted that his team has been a shadow of itself since the first round of the Manning Cup competition was concluded.
“I know that from during the quarter-final round (of the Manning Cup). We lost all the games in the quarter-finals, but when you look during the run of play, we missed a whole lot of chances, even though we are not at our best.”
He is hoping that the opportunity to return to the final will inspire a better performance today.
“We have a chance to defend our title. This is a final, so hopefully, we can put up a better performance in the final.”
The veteran youth coach is at a loss to explain why his team has been performing so badly in front of goal as he, too, found the performance in the penalty shoot-out shocking from both teams.
“I don't know. We do a whole lot of finishing. When you look at the penalty shoot-out, I would never expect that to happen. So many penalties missed from both teams.
“In our sessions from last week, back to this week it was so tough to pick the first five (kickers) and to see people come and miss so many…but we just have to prepare for the final,” he said after the semi-final.
As far as Patrick is concerned, he has done all that he can do and now it is down to the players to get themselves in the frame of mind necessary to lift the trophy for a second time.
“This is a final. They have to motivate themselves. I keep motivating them, now it's the inner you to motivate yourself and put your best foot forward and try to get the job done,” he declared.
St Catherine High will face Kingston Technical High (KT) in the final after Mona High, who beat KT 5-0 in the semi-finals, were thrown out of the competition for using two ineligible players who had both received red cards in their final Manning Cup quarter-final game and should have sat out the Walker Cup semis.
— Dwayne Richards