A stunning goal by the home side, with Pat's then equalizing from the penalty spot, followed by a world class tackle by a Drog defender in the second half to prevent Pat's taking the lead on the break, we felt a draw was as much as our team was likely to get from this clash despite being the better side. Only then the trap was sprang, with Pat's making the discovery that there's life in the old Drog yet.
The Wizards of Weaver were not to be denied their moment in the sun. In the dying seconds of a summer's evening they came up with a 94th minute winner adroitly started and finished by Darragh Markey to secure all the points and send the Pat's fans riding out on the same bus they came in on, but much more subdued. Raucousness perhaps giving way to reflection on what might have been but for that sublimely worked Markey winner.
The atmosphere in the ground at that point was a cacophonic crescendo made up of a variety of joyous exhalations, all blending to send the decibel level off the charts, with the Drogheda ultras being the cutting edge of the anti-noise reduction lobby, my son in the middle of them for the entire second half. At times I could glimpse him wildly gesticulating and protesting every dodgy decision – there were quite a few – by the referee all of which seemed to go to the way of Pat's. Incessant shirt tugging in his book just seemed to be part of the game.
My son gave me glimpses of myself when in my teenage days I started going with friends like Jim Delaney to Glentoran games. Now, a pensioner at the end of the month, I am aware that the arc of life is naturally approaching its final destination, levelling out at the same point of nothingness where it all began. Soccer was an important part of that journey so I am pleased to still be on that very same coach in the twilight years as I was in their dawn. And what a game to concentrate the mind.
In the first half, Dayle Rooney under pressure from a Pat's defender eager to clear his lines curved a scintillating pass onto the poised boot of Adam Foley who met it on the volley, our joy diminished only by the absence of on-screen action reply where we would have watched it again and again. The quality of finish and the later decisive tackle is not what we are used to seeing served up in this league.
We could almost have missed it. My wife messaged me yesterday while I was in town to remind me that there were four tickets for the game. She had booked them last month in anticipation of her niece and nephew being here from Arizona. They were to go with our own two, a cousins thing. A hiccup with travel arrangements, their trip to Ireland was put back a month. Suddenly, there were four seats in need of being filled. Easy solved; I called my friend Paddy and asked him if he and his son would like to join us. As passionate about soccer as we are, there was no hesitation. My last Drogs game had been with them, although the outcome then led to the same transfusion of despondency experienced by Pat's fans last evening.
As I do, I put on display the silverware at the start of the game, a gift from my seriously good friend Alfie Gallagher. A hip flask of Writers' Tears, at 46% one of the stronger whiskey brands on the market, the last drop was imbibed minutes before the winning goal, not even a dribble left to celebrate.
In a fortnight’s time Drogheda take on Dundalk in the Louth derby. There will be an extra edge to that confrontation. After the determination shown last night, Writers' Tears might just consider retaining a droplet to wet the whistle after the final whistle.