Some­thing has to give as two ‘nearly’ teams con­test fi­nal

New Ross Standard - - SPORT - BY ALAN AH­ERNE

THE TWO ‘nearly’ teams of the Joyces Ex­pert In­ter­me­di­ate ‘A’ foot­ball cham­pi­onship will clash in the fi­nal in In­no­vate Wex­ford Park on Sun­day at 1.15 p.m., so some­thing has to give.

This grade was in­tro­duced in 2012, and in the six de­ciders played thus far, ei­ther Naomh Eanna or Clough­bawn have been the run­ners-up on five oc­ca­sions.

The Gorey side lost the in­au­gu­ral fi­nal af­ter a re­play to St. Fin­tan’s by 2-8 to 0-6, and one year later Clough­bawn were pipped by Kil­more (0-14 to 1-10).

There was more dis­ap­point­ment for Naomh Eanna in 2014 when they were beaten by St. Mary’s (Maudlin­town) on a 0-9 to 1-4 score­line, and the only fi­nal that didn’t fea­ture one of Sun­day’s con­tes­tants was in 2015 when St. Joseph’s ac­counted for Cross­abeg-Bal­ly­murn.

Clough­bawn suf­fered an­other galling one-point de­feat in the 2016 fi­nal, this time to Duf­fry Rovers by 2-7 to 1-9, and last year Naomh Eanna lost to Cross­abeg-Bal­ly­murn af­ter ex­tra-time by 1-11 to 1-9.

And if their two knock­out meet­ings are any­thing to go by, then a tight game is in store with the north county side likely to hold a slight edge.

Four years ago, Naomh Eanna beat Clough­bawn by 0-11 to 0-9 in the semi-fi­nal, and twelve months later they pre­vailed by the same mar­gin in the quar­ter-fi­nal (1-12 to 1-10).

With both sides in­volved in the big hurl­ing fi­nals just seven days later, the tim­ing of this match prob­a­bly isn’t the best.

Then again, those who ar­gue that it’s im­pos­si­ble to mix both codes and be suc­cess­ful should take note of what Naomh Eanna and Clough­bawn have achieved thus far.

The sides played a 1-14 each draw in their last round group game in Oyle­gate on Oc­to­ber 1, adding fur­ther to the be­lief that there will be lit­tle be­tween them next Sun­day.

While Colm Ke­hoe is recog­nised as the main man for Clough­bawn, he can ex­pect plenty of sup­port as al­ways from the likes of chief scorer Bob Whitty, the ul­tra-con­sis­tent Barry ‘Bozy’ Ke­hoe, Gavin Mur­phy, the Cul­lens, James Dempsey and Harry Ke­hoe.

They beat Vol­un­teers by 1-9 to 0-6 in the semi-fi­nal, mak­ing up for their 2017 exit to the same op­po­nents in the last eight in the process.

A con­tri­bu­tion of 1-3 off the bench by Cathal Dun­bar saw Naomh Eanna home by 1-15 to 1-8 against Clongeen, and they do ap­pear to have a stronger over­all squad than their ri­vals.

That might be enough to tip the scales in their favour, es­pe­cially if Sea­mus O’Don­nell, Bren­dan Travers, David O’Brien, Char­lie McGuckin, Peter Travers and the Doyle trio are on their best form.

In­no­vate Wex­ford Park will host the Am­ber Springs/Ash­down Park Ho­tels In­ter­me­di­ate foot­ball cham­pi­onship semi-fi­nals on Satur­day, with Horeswood and HWH-Bun­clody fan­cied to beat St. Mary’s (Ross­lare) and Cross­abeg-Bal­ly­murn re­spec­tively.

Mean­while, in Belle­field, there will be a novel En­nis­cor­thy Farm Sys­tems Ju­nior ‘B’ foot­ball cham­pi­onship fi­nal as nei­ther of the con­tes­tants, Rath­garogue-Cushin­stown and Craan­ford, ac­tu­ally won their Dis­trict ti­tles.

This is the first year that quar­ter-fi­nals were in­tro­duced to ac­com­mo­date Dis­trict run­ners-up, and both clubs made the most of their sec­ond chance af­ter los­ing to Tagh­mon-Cam­ross and Kil­rush re­spec­tively.

Wins over the two St. Mary’s, Maudlin­town and Ross­lare, earned their fi­nal spots.

That game, at 2 p.m. on Satur­day, will be fol­lowed by the En­nis­cor­thy Farm Sys­tems Ju­nior ‘A’ de­cider be­tween an Adamstown side boast­ing some ex­pe­ri­enced for­mer Seniors such as Eric Bradley and Bren­dan Ke­hoe, and a fairly youth­ful Sars­fields out­fit. This fi­nal, like the Ju­nior ‘B’ cur­tain-raiser, could go ei­ther way.

The Ou­lart-The Bal­lagh squad prior to their de­feat in Satur­day’s Se­nior Premier fi­nal in Belle­field.

Louise Ham­mel re­ceives the cup from Kath­leen Ke­hoe (Sec­re­tary).

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