Bal­ly­duff could live to re­gret fail­ure to kill off Lix­naw

The Kerryman (North Kerry) - - SPORT - BY DAMIAN STACK

COUNTY SHC FI­NAL (re­play)

Bal­ly­duff v Lix­naw

Sun­day, Oc­to­ber 15 Austin Stack Park, 3pm

THIS is an­other dev­il­ishly dif­fi­cult game to call.

As we ex­plain else­where on these pages, there was noth­ing at all be­tween the sides last week­end and, ob­vi­ously, we’re not just talk­ing about the score­board here. In the puck-out stats, in scor­ing chances con­verted, in wides hit and shots dropped short, there was a real con­ver­gence be­tween these two teams.

Bal­ly­duff took 63% of their chances. Lix­naw took 61% of theirs. The dif­fer­ence was so small as to be ir­rel­e­vant and, yet, from those stats one can con­struct an ar­gu­ment for why Lix­naw are bet­ter placed this week­end.

As the younger, less ex­pe­ri­enced side, they should im­prove be­tween draw and re­play, as in­deed they im­proved be­tween semi-fi­nal and fi­nal. Sun­day was the first county se­nior hurl­ing fi­nal a num­ber of these guys have played, the ex­pe­ri­ence will prove in­valu­able.

Ob­vi­ously Shane Con­way didn’t need the com­fort blan­ket of ex­pe­ri­ence to shine, but for a few oth­ers, Brian McAuliffe for in­stance, it’s bound to im­prove them fur­ther still. A cou­ple of per­cent­age im­prove­ment here and there and Lix­naw are look­ing good.

On the flip side it’s quite pos­si­ble Shane Con­way won’t be as good again. It’s equally pos­si­ble Pádraig Boyle won’t ei­ther. Quite pos­si­bly ei­ther or both man­age­ment teams will find a way to blot out the other’s star man.

The ne­ces­sity to curb the other team be­comes more pro­nounced nor­mally in a re­play. We shouldn’t nec­es­sar­ily ex­pect an­other open free-flow­ing game of hurl­ing as we got on Sun­day.

As of Mon­day af­ter­noon the book­ies had this game as too close to call and that seems just about right to us. Lix­naw do seem have been in­stalled as a lot of peo­ple’s favourites, but only a fool would rule out Bal­ly­duff (no­body ever ac­cuses the book­ies of fool­ish­ness!).

Pádraig Boyle shows no sign of eas­ing off. Mikey Boyle after a solid game last week­end has the ca­pac­ity to kick it up an­other gear in the re­play. There’s room to im­prove from Bal­ly­duff too and, yet, hav­ing had the chance to set­tle this fi­nal the first day out, they could live to re­gret let­ting Lix­naw off the hook.

Lix­naw may lack Bal­ly­duff’s ex­pe­ri­ence, but they have greater strength in depth, the man­ner in which they fin­ished should give Bobby Thorn­hill and co pause. Lix­naw can call upon fresh legs. It could prove the dif­fer­ence.

Lix­naw

Ver­dict:

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