Former Offaly goalkeeper Mulhall has seen how ex-Westmeath panellist Peter Tormey, with the aid of current Lake County defender Jamie Gonoud, has helped to guide Moate to their first ever “A” decider, just as Wexford captain Brian Malone alongside Chris Murphy has been integral to St Peter’s College reaching this stage for the first time since 1996.
Dessie Dolan has been teaching and coordinating the sports curriculum at Moate. It’s a short distance from Offaly, and Mulhall has truly noticed a revolution.
“A lot of the teachers there are interested in football. There would be three or four former Westmeath footballers: Dessie, of course, Peter Tormey, David Duffy, JP Casey, and current player Jamie Gonoud. They are all genuine football men and they’re putting structures in place.
“It’s become a GAA school and these are young teachers and they have given the whole thing a new lease of life... It comes back to creating a culture and the teachers there are putting in the time, staying behind after school and training lads like they would proper teams.
"They are names the boys would know and you can’t get any bigger in Westmeath football than Dessie. Peter Tormey was on the Westmeath panel for a good few years. It’s become a serious thing for them.”
A third of the Moate team that beat St Peters’ local rivals Good Counsel hail from Offaly and indications on the ground suggest more are being attracted to Moate because of the school’s growing reputation as a football academy.
Mulhall also points to the work done by Offaly’s clubs on the border, such as Ballycumber and Tubber, who have been “really pushing things on and putting together good structures”.
In Wexford, the presence of inter-county stalwart Malone hasn’t gone unnoticed in St Peter’s, a college known more for its hurling exploits. Also, South Leinster post- primary schools officer Pat Hennessy can’t deny the success of New Ross’s Good Counsel, winners in 2015, has had a positive impact on the Wexford town school.
“My belief is that one school in the locality brings on the other and there is an extraordinary competitive spirit between the two. A great rivalry, great friendship too but the first objective each of them have every year is to beat the other or better them.
“That brings on both of them and, when they go out to compete with the rest of Leinster, it stands to them. It would have been true for a while that St Peters were in the shadow of Good Counsel, but not so this year. There would have only been a hop of a ball between them at times but this is a special team that St Peter’s have this year.”
Bridesmaids in 1994, ’95, and ’96, losing to Good Counsel in the latter two, St Peter’s will be out to emulate their ’92 success. They will take heart from how they fended off a second-half challenge from the Combined Wicklow schools team in their semi-final, but Moate, boasting the prized scalp of Good Counsel, will be given utmost respect.