Senior football final places up for grabs
PREVIEW A LOOK AHEAD TO THE LOCAL G.A.A. ACTION
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.
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.