Seven out of seven has Shels on song
McCabe: ‘We have a good balance’
‘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.