Ballyduff could live to regret failure to kill off Lixnaw
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.