Seven out of seven has Shels on song

McCabe: ‘We have a good bal­ance’

New Ross Standard - - SPORT - DEAN GOOD­I­SON

‘THE SCORE­BOARD is the most im­por­tant thing but we have to play to our strengths, do the sim­ple things (well) and hope­fully ev­ery­thing will fall into place on the day.’

That’s the ver­dict of Shel­maliers supremo Benny McCabe ahead of Sun­day’s Tom Doyle Sup­plies Se­nior foot­ball cham­pi­onship fi­nal.

And why not, as it’s a for­mula that has worked all year for the Hol­ly­mount-based club? Seven games, seven wins; what more could a man­ager ask for? In truth, the level of suc­cess has prob­a­bly even sur­prised McCabe.

‘We got four points from the first phase. We were kind of happy but knew we would have three tough matches in the next phase, against Gusser­ane, Starlights and Glynn-Barn­town, we knew we would find it dif­fi­cult,’ the boss ad­mit­ted.

‘When we were play­ing the Starlights in Wex­ford Park (in the third group game), we were play­ing the county cham­pi­ons so we had to make a state­ment, to see if we were up to that level. We ended up beat­ing them by eight points and played well that day.’

How­ever, there was an­other win that might have been even more im­por­tant to the Over The Wa­ter side, de­spite the fact that they had al­ready qual­i­fied for the knock­outs. It was a match-up that has con­sis­tently given them headaches for sev­eral sea­sons.

‘We have ac­tu­ally found it dif­fi­cult against Glynn-Barn­town the last cou­ple of years’, ex­plained McCabe.

‘That game was up in St. Pa­trick’s Park, and we learned a lot from that match, came through it by three points, which I think was a good re­sult be­cause we have strug­gled against them.’

Ev­ery­thing is rel­a­tive and small im­prove­ments can be made through­out the team. McCabe talked about hav­ing James Gor­don back be­tween the sticks, and he also beamed when dis­cussing the im­pact youth has had on the team this sea­son, but he also knows just how im­por­tant the most ex­pe­ri­enced mem­ber of his team is too.

‘Brian Malone is the se­nior mem­ber of the team and you couldn’t ask for a bet­ter player,’ McCabe ad­mit­ted.

‘We have a good bal­ance and we are a young team. I’d say we blended in three or four good play­ers this year, Ross Banville, Seán Keane-Car­roll and Dan Camp­bell.

‘The young play­ers have a lot of en­ergy. That helps the team, they are full of en­thu­si­asm, it has brought a nice bal­ance to the team.

‘The squad this year is a lot stronger, with all the new play­ers com­ing into it. There are bet­ter op­tions on the bench as well.’

The team game has been im­por­tant for Shel­maliers and that was ev­i­dent again in a smoth­er­ing semi-fi­nal win against the Starlights, of which McCabe said: ‘Joe Hagan has done a good job with them, we knew we were up against it but we got into the game right from the off and that meant an aw­ful lot. Things worked out on the day.’

At dif­fer­ent times, Shel­maliers have played a va­ri­ety of dif­fer­ent sys­tems, as they have played at­tack­ing teams, de­fen­sive sys­tems and ev­ery­thing in be­tween.

While McCabe is hon­est when say­ing ‘ not too many thought Shels and Ki­lanerin would end up in the fi­nal’, he knows both sides are there on merit.

‘I saw them in the In­ter­me­di­ate fi­nal last year, they got a good run in the club cham­pi­onship and that stood to them this year.

‘They are a good set­tled side, they work to their sys­tem and they have some very good play­ers. Not only Matty but Conor De­vitt, the O’Tooles, they are a good out­fit.’

Shel­maliers men­tors Benny McCabe (man­ager), David Shig­gins, Bren­dan O’Sul­li­van, Michael Ryan, Ai­dan O’Leary and Gar­ret Dunne.

Eoghan Nolan clashes with county col­league Nick Doyle dur­ing the 2-16 to 0-12 semi-fi­nal vic­tory against Starlights.

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