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