A weekend to enjoy
Huge championship games ahead
IT’S a crunch weekend in terms of the Senior and Intermediate football championships with the aspirations of some clubs hanging by a thread as we edge closer to the business of the season.
The Senior action gets underway on Saturday evening with a match that most neutrals in the Garden County will be looking forard to with relish and that is the meeting of last year’s beaten finalists, Rathnew, and last season’s Intermediate champions, Tinahely, in Aughrim at 5pm.
With Harry Murphy’s side have accounted for Newtown and being held for a draw by AGB, all eyes will be on what the Villagers can do against an unbeaten Tinahely side who have some of the finest young players in their ranks and a very highly regarded young manager at the helm in the form of Alan Costello.
All over the field there are battles that will be full of intrigue and ferocity. Will Eoin Darcy start for the Tinahely men and who will Rathnew deploy to curb the massive influence the former Minor star can have on a game.
Will Harry Murphy have Leighton Glynn at his disposal and how will that Tinahely full-back line handle the sublimely talented attacker and the in-form Mark Doyle if they are prowling around the square.
Will sense be seen, and the seemingly harsh red card shown to James Stafford be quashed at tonight’s (Tuesday) CCC meeting and if it is how will eoghan byrne and Brian Walsh compete against the Village legend and the very impressive Sam O’Dowd.
The clash of the Tinahely half-forward and Rathnew half-backline could be a hectic battle as quality soldiers such as Gary Byrne, JT Moorehouse and the likes come into contact with the powerful Stephen Dillon, the intelligent Jason Cush and the pacy Noel Mulhall.
How will Ross O’Brien, Jamie Snell and Paul Merrigan handle the threat of Willie Quaile, Rory Stokes or Tony Darcy is Eoin Darcy doesn’t start, and will the sharp Tinahely half-back line of Kevin Mulhall, Curtis Keating and James Tyrrell be able to dilute the impact of the likes of Danny Staunton, Warren Kavanagh and Theo Smyth.
It has the makings of real belter of a game and referee John O’Brien from Newcastle throws the ball in at 5pm on Saturday evening.
Immediately after that game the reigning champions from St Patrick’s take on the side who blew Baltinglass out of the water in their championship opener and who will be hoping to cause another seismic shock by leaving Casey O’Brien’s men in their wake come 8pm on Saturday night.
Can Avondale hit the same heights as they did against Sean O’Brien’s side and subsequently against Éire Óg in their second outing?
Or did they catch the Baltinglass men cold in that opener?
Truth is that this Avondale side are a serious outfit with talented players all over the field and they have size and ability that plenty of teams are going to find it very difficult to live with.
There are huge questions ahead of this game. Does Ian McDonald try to limit the influence of Dean Healy around the middle of the field and does with Wayne Doyle or Shane Murley try to repeat the impressive feat of the Éire Óg defence by keeping Oisin McGraynor scoreless.
Can Pat’s handle the half-back line from hell featuring a trio of Baker brothers, Mark, Eoin and David and how will Avondale deal with the suave Stephen Duffy and the towering Tommy Kelly.
Will the recently returned Conor Ffrench, Padraig Higgins and James Kavanagh feature for Casey O’Brien’s men as they look to take another step towards the defence of the Miley Cup.
Sunday sees a quartet of hugely significant games taking place in Aughrim in the Senior Football Championship.
The early game sees Hollywood chasing their second win of the campaign following their dramatic victory over Kiltegan in Baltinglass last time out.
Up against them are Damien Redmond’s men who will be incredibly conscious of the fact that a win for them against the western side and a slip up by wither Tinahely or Rathnew could see them at best rise to the top of the table or worst consolidate their second-place position.
The bottom two in Group 1 take to the field for the second game of the early double header at the county grounds as Newtown and Kiltegan both go in search of their opening wins of the campaign. If Newtown can maintain their decent form and not let the two defeats weigh them down, they could well get one over on a Kiltegan side who have the potential to hurt if they get the chance.
The evening games are hugely important. A win for Blessington could put them top of the group with monster games against Avondalke and Pat’s to come. A win would do Éire Óg the world of good.
The late game sees Baltinglass clinging to any hope of survival whatsoever. It may already be too late as they will have to beat Pat’s even if they get over the challenge of Bray Emmets. The availability of John McGrath won’t be known until later tonight (Tuesday) but it will be a major decision in the context of the winning or losing of this game you would think.
It’s make or break time in the Intermediate grade as well for a number of fixtures.
Ballymanus and Annacurra simply must win when they meet each other in Aughrim at 7.30pm on Friday with Eddie Leonard in the middle.
It’s the year from hell for Annacurra while Ballymanus just can’t seem to get over the line. Put the seatbelt on coming to this one as there will no quarter given or asked when championship survival stands between two neighbours.
Carnew’s game against Rathnew is huge after the Wexofrd border men slipped up to Dunlavin and Kilcoole and the aforementioned Dunlavin will look for top of the table domination when they meet on Saturday.
See fixtures for full details.
It’s a huge weekend in the Senior and Intermediate football championships.