Can Kilcoole stop Tinahely’s march to the crown
ON Thursday evening at 7.30pm on the wide open plateau that is Ballinakill the Arklow Bay Hotel Junior C Football Championship final will be contested between the men of Tinahely and the soldiers of Kilcoole.
A strange venue for a county decider (there were hurling finals up there last season) for a number of reasons: no fencing, no shelter, no seating, but neither team will allow that spoil what has the makings of a very competitive and interesting game of football under lights.
It can’t be denied or ignored that Tinahely are red hot favour- ites for this clash on paper. They quite simply obliterated all comers through the group stages and pulled away convincingly against a competitive and very useful Éire Óg side in the semi-final.
Kilcoole came home third in a very competitive group behind leaders Donard-The Glen and second placed Éire Óg with the Goosebankers suffering two defeats to Blessington and the men from Greystones following an uplifting victory away to Donard early on in the campaign.
It was to be another uplifting win over the Jim Mills Memorial Park men that propelled them into the decider as they blitzed the west outfit in the second half in Ballinakill with Donard-The Glen only scoring in the first minute of that second period and no more for the remainder of the game.
Kilcoole have a major job to handle the Tinahely unit. From William Lillis in the goal to Austin Brennan in corner-forward this Tinahely side are littered with quality footballers. In the middle of the field the wise heads of David Dillon, Brian Hickey and Niall Gorman can dictate a game as well as anyone at this level and can and have contributed richly to the scoreboard.
A miserly full-back line of Danny Quinn, Gavin Kenny and Tony Lacey can torment attacks and they possess a really strong half-back line in the form of Ray McGlynn, Kevin Doyle and Fionn Furlong.
Their half-forward pairing of Damien Cullen and Anthony Phelan might get overlooked in reports but take it that these two players can be happy in the knowledge that they have contributed massively to this fine run of form for the club’s second adult team.
Willie Quaile’s performances this year have been exceptional while David Blake has proved to be too hot to handle for every full-back line he has encountered so far.
And that’s what makes Thursday night’s Junior ‘C’ final all the more interesting.
Kilcoole will relish all this talk of teams being unbeatable or red-hot favorites. Stephen Kelly or whoever they deploy to mark David Blake will have that added incentive to up their game.
Leaders like Gerry Murray, James Scullion, Pat Woods, Garry Coady will lick their lips at the thought of testing themselves against the all-powerful Tinahely side who have marched relentlessly to the county final on the back of superb performances against limited sides for the most part. A county final is different. A county final is an arena where space is restricted, where the pace is upped considerably, where nerves enter the equation as an unknown force, where the din from what should be a very decent crowd will ring loudly in the ears of those on the field of battle.
Whether you finished top of your group or third will matter for absolutely nothing when Kiltegan’s Eamon Doyle throws that ball up into the evening sky in Ballinakill. What joys the weather gods decide to shower us with will also have a major bearing on the game. A forecast of cloudy and 19 degrees will likely please Tinahely but this is Ballinakill.
Kilcoole had seven players on the scoreboard in their semi-final.
The Goosebank side will have to spoil Tinahely’s hunger for goals and they will need to bag a few themselves. They’ve proven they can rattle the net at one end, whether they can stop them at their own end remains to be seen.