Shels seek first crown

Ki­lanerin pro­vide op­po­si­tion in novel Co. foot­ball fi­nal

Enniscorthy Guardian - - SPORT - BY BREN­DAN FUR­LONG

IN A unique fi­nal pair­ing that is at­tract­ing the in­ter­est of neu­tral fol­low­ers, Shel­maliers will be try­ing to cre­ate their own piece of his­tory when they come up against Ki­lanerin in the Tom Doyle Sup­plies Se­nior foot­ball cham­pi­onship fi­nal in In­no­vate Wex­ford Park on Sun­day (3.15 p.m.).

Few would have en­vis­aged such a fi­nal pair­ing at the start of the cham­pi­onship cam­paign, par­tic­u­larly as Shel­maliers had their sights set on hurl­ing glory, while their op­po­nents, Ki­lanerin, had just re­turned to top flight foot­ball hav­ing won the In­ter­me­di­ate ti­tle last year.

While dis­ap­pointed with their hurl­ing exit at the quar­ter-fi­nal stage, Shel­maliers re-grouped, and de­spite the quick turn­around, they man­aged to turn on their best foot­balling dis­play of the cam­paign in down­ing the hold­ers, Starlights, with a com­mand­ing per­for­mance that caught many by sur­prise.

Now they are just 60 min­utes away from cre­at­ing his­tory and winning their first-ever Se­nior foot­ball ti­tle, but they still have that lit­tle mat­ter of a Matty Forde-in­spired Ki­lanerin out­fit to con­tend with.

It’s a novel fi­nal that’s arous­ing great in­ter­est, par­tic­u­larly given the con­trast in the teams’ ap­proach to the game.

Ki­lanerin have a blend of ex­pe­ri­ence and youth, pre­fer­ring to play the pos­ses­sion game in their build-up which they have utilised so well, as they have emerged as one of the bet­ter foot­balling sides dur­ing the cam­paign.

Shel­maliers bring a nice mix­ture to their game with a brand of open, di­rect foot­ball which has stood the test, but they are also ca­pa­ble of chang­ing their game­plan with com­posed at­tack­ing play, as was seen in their de­mo­li­tion of Starlights.

Shel­maliers will no doubt en­deav­our to min­imise the sup­ply to the vet­eran Matty Forde, who still is lethal in front of goal, and does so much to in­spire those around him, but it’s the mid­field duel that could dic­tate the out­come of this game.

Both Niall Hughes and Niall Breen have been im­mense for the north county side, while Eoghan Nolan and Brian Malone, backed up by Si­mon Dono­hoe, have brought real strength to their side around the mid­dle sec­tor, with the vet­eran Malone play­ing some of his best-ever foot­ball at the mo­ment.

The man­ner in which Ki­lanerin re­tained their com­po­sure when com­ing un­der in­tense sec­ond-half St. Martin’s pres­sure sug­gests they have de­vel­oped into a side ca­pa­ble of tak­ing that fi­nal step, par­tic­u­larly with play­ers like Gavin O’Toole, Dean O’Toole, Seán Forde, Páuric Hughes and Conor De­vitt de­vel­op­ing into po­ten­tial match-win­ners.

Each line on the Shels side has the po­ten­tial to dom­i­nate, with Glen Malone strong in de­fence, while Craig McCabe, Eoin Doyle, Ross Banville and A.J. Le­hane are blossoming in at­tack.

Given the re­spec­tive semi-fi­nal dis­plays where both were so im­pres­sive, I’ve a feel­ing that the Shels will edge through to an his­toric first ti­tle in this grade.

The vic­tors will face the Meath cham­pi­ons in Le­in­ster on Oc­to­ber 28.

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