AN EMOTIONAL DANNY VENTRE struggled to put his feelings into words after he captained Sligo Rovers to the League of Ireland championship with a 3-2 win over St Patrick’s Athletic at the Showgrounds on Saturday.
The Merseyside native, speaking after the game, admitted that his side took their feet off the pedal after going 2-0 up in the first half.
However, Ventre said he didn’t care because Mark Quigley’s late penalty cancelled out St Pat’s’ brilliant fightback, and the trophy was in his grasp.
“Did we take our foot off the gas a little bit? I don’t know,” he said. “I don’t care at the moment, to be honest with you! This beats it all, especially at home with the crowd we’ve had tonight.
“It’s unbelievable, I can’t put it into words.
“We got a crowd of 5,600 today and that shows the momentum of the club. Every year there’s been a progression since I’ve been here, and to top it all off we’ve won the league.
There was some nastiness at the end of the game, as the Inchicore side chased the game and felt that Ventre took advantage of a ‘drop ball’ situation. Ventre and Sean O’Connor both saw red, but the 26-year-old was not in the mood to concentrate on the more contentious aspects of the game.
“What it was was the referee said ‘bounce ball’ and Ger O’Brien, the right-back, said “kick it back.” I was going to kick it back and O’Connor said ‘drop ball.’ As that was happening the referee dropped the ball and I went on with it. Next thing we’re through on goal and they’re all around me. The referee said I’ve punched someone but I haven’t even swung my arm. Someone’s pushed me in the chest and that was it.
“They’re all calling me names but at the end of the day we’ve won the game!”
Ventre’s defensive partner Gavin Peers was also in jubilant form, but stressed the importance of keeping the squad together in the face of interested clubs in the coming months.
“Thank God we got over the line,” he said.
“When it went 2-2 and they were on top I was like, ‘oh no!’ but we dug in deep and got the winner in the last few minutes. That’s all you can ask for, everybody worked hard over the course of the season. Nobody’s performed in just one game, it’s been a team effort and that’s what you want.
“They were on top, they hit the post twice, they’re a good side. So it just shows the character we have in the dressing room, we dug in deeper. I knew Quigs was going to score, he doesn’t miss penalties.
“It’s up to the board and Ian to keep this squad together for next year. I know there’s a few clubs who’ll want to come in and break it up but we have a togetherness. Hopefully we can stay together and get even more success next year.
“We do want the fans to start coming every week now, it shows how good we could be if we had that level of support every week.”