Se­nior foot­ball fi­nal places up for grabs

PREVIEW A LOOK AHEAD TO THE LO­CAL G.A.A. ACTION

Bray People - - Sport - Peter KEOGH

THE TWO semi-fi­nals of the Doo­ley Poyn­ton SFC will take place at Aughrim on Sun­day, so bar­ring draws we should know who will fight it out for the Mi­ley Cup come Sun­day night

Kil­te­gan v. Rath­new: The first match is be­tween the 2005 cham­pi­ons Rath­new and up and com­ing Kil­te­gan.

This is the third year in a row that this pair have met in the semi-fi­nal and at this mo­ment in time the score stands at one each. So who will win the ‘Rub­ber’?. Nei­ther team was over im­pres­sive in the quar­ter-fi­nals; Kil­te­gan just about scraped over new­com­ers Strat­ford while Rath­new left it late enough to put New­town away.

Kil­te­gan, who won their one and only Se­nior ti­tle back in ’86 have been im­prov­ing steadily in re­cent years. They reached the fi­nal of the 2006 cham­pi­onship only to be beaten by St. Pa­trick’s while last year they lost to Rath­new in the semi-fi­nal.

This year they again topped their group in the league stages but without ever pro­duc­ing the form of the pre­vi­ous years. In fact they strug­gled for a long time against Ti­na­hely and AGB be­fore get­ting through.

They have three of Micko’s men – Jacko Dal­ton, Seánie Fur­long and Derek Daly - to back­bone the team and other strong play­ers in Adrian Fo­ley, John O’Toole, Stephen Cor­ri­gan and James Doyle.

Man­ager Gavin Wynne ad­mits that there is still plenty of room for im­prove­ment but be­lieved that his side can get it right on the day. Rath­new are, and al­ways have been a law unto them­selves when it comes to foot­ball.

They have won more Se­nior cham­pi­onships than any­one else in the county and in bad years or good they are a force to be reck­oned with.

They too topped the ta­ble in their group with three straight wins without over ex­ert­ing them­selves.

In the quar­ter-fi­nal they took their time in com­ing to terms with New­town but once Harry Mur­phy pressed the ac­cel­er­a­tor he got an im­me­di­ate re­sponse and once in front the men from what was once known as the Thatched Vil­lage went on to win with plenty to spare.

Now more than ever they are de­pend­ing on their county play­ers to lead the way.

Few clubs have a stronger down-themid­dle line than Rath­new with Damien Power, Stephen Byrne, James Stafford, Leighton Glynn and Tommy Gill to man the key po­si­tions with Nicky Mer­nagh and his broth­ers Barry and An­thony all ready to take over if needs be.

Tra­di­tion says Rath­new, even form up to now points to the men from the east but Kil­te­gan will be no push-over and in this year of sur­prised any­thing can hap­pen.

St. Pa­trick’s v. Bray Em­mets: This one is also likely to be a hum-dinger. Both sides sur­prised all but their own sup­port­ers in the quar­ter-fi­nals – St. Pat’s not so much by their win over Bless­ing­ton but by the qual­ity of their foot­ball.

Bray Em­mets of course pulled off the shock of the year when they knocked out the cham­pi­ons Balt­in­glass.

Liam McGraynor’s men strug­gled for a long time in that match be­fore get­ting the mea­sure of the hold­ers. In the end it was the strength of their mid­field pair­ing that turned the tide. When Thomas Walsh turned on the style in the sec­ond­half and gave the hard-work­ing Stephen Fox the sup­port he needed then the sup­ply of ball to the danger­ous Balt­in­glass for­wards was cut off.

That is not to say that this Bray team is a bird fly­ing on one wing. They have plenty of tal­ent fore and aft. Oisin O hAn­naidh is prob­a­bly the most un­der­rated full-back in the county; his brother Bren­dan is still a force to be reck­oned while in goal they have surely the most amaz­ing man in Wick­low foot­ball – the ev­er­green John Walsh.

Up front Jonathan Kinch has to be the find of the year; Niall McGraynor, the lad that cap­tained the Wick­low Vo­ca­tional Schools to All-Ire­land victory over no less a force than Ty­rone is back – per­haps not yet at his best but he will im­prove with ev­ery match.

Strictly on quar­ter-fi­nal form St. Pa­trick’s must be fan­cied to make the fi­nal. Their dis­play against a Bless­ing­ton team that played well on the day was top class. Once Casey O’Brien got his full­back line sorted the team was fir­ing on all cylin­ders

The ex­pe­ri­enced Gary Jame­son at full­back and Pa­trick McWal­ter in the cen­tre an­chored a good de­fence; Garry Duffy, with a se­lec­tion of part­ners did all that was re­quired at mid­field. Paul Earls is their big dan­ger man but he is not by any means the only threat up front. John Slat­tery is back to top form; Dar­ragh O’Sul­li­van and David Smullen also take a lot of mark­ing while even on the bench they are the strong­est out­fit in the county.

Even if the Bray side get a pull at mid­field the Wick­low town side must be fan­cied to make the fi­nal. How about an­other parish ‘derby’ be­tween St. Pat’s and Rath­new in the fi­nal?.

D’ARCY SAND IFC

An­other heavy pro­gramme at the week­end sees a lot of action in the In­ter­me­di­ate foot­ball cham­pi­onship.

Prob­a­bly the most im­por­tant match is the meet­ing of Avon­dale and Ballymanus at Ark­low.

This is a last chance sal­lon for the ‘Dales. They have slipped up twice al­ready and are now only hang­ing by a thread. The ‘Bil­lies’ had a bad start to the cham­pi­onship but they have been build­ing up strength along the way and an­other win would now put them through to the semi-fi­nals.

An­nacurra, who are al­most cer­tainly through to the semi-fi­nals take on Bray Em­mets at Round­wood on Fri­day .

Val­ley­mount and Knockananna meet at Balt­in­glass in a match that has now been switched from Satur­day to Sun­day at 1 o’clock.

Eire Og, one of the fan­cied teams early on have also slipped up twice in the IFC and must beat Kil­coole at New­town on Sun­day to keep their hopes alive. Herbst IHC Fi­nal A nice hurl­ing dou­ble-header at Ark­low on Satur­day. Carnew and Glenealy meet in the fi­nal of the IHC at 3.30 p.m.. This one is wide open with ev­ery­thing de­pend­ing on who gets it right on the day. Glenealy have been a lit­tle more ac­tive and more im­pres­sive in a grade that has fallen on bad times but with no matches played in months we can only wait and see.

In the Doo­ley Poyn­ton SHC Carnew take on an im­prov­ing ARP in their last game and need only a draw to clinch the Ka­vanagh Cup and go straight into the county fi­nal.

ROAD­STONE JAFC

A key match in the JAFC sees Bal­li­na­cor take on Bless­ing­ton at Laragh on Sun­day. The Glen­malure men are fan­cied to win and clinch their place in the semi-fi­nals.

Matches also in the Pat Reid JHC; The NDI JCFC, The Keat­ing Tro­phy, The Whit­tle SFL and the Carter Cup And lastly an in­ter­est­ing match be­tween Carnew and Hol­ly­wood in the semi-fi­nal of Divi­sion 4 of the Whillle FL at Balt­in­glass on Tues­day evening.

Carnew's Liam Kennedy gets his pass away as Glenealy's Leighton Glynn closes in dur­ing their Se­nior hurl­ing cham­pi­onship match at the week­end.

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