A week­end to en­joy

Huge cham­pi­onship games ahead

Wicklow People (West Edition) - - SPORT - CHAM­PI­ONSHIP Pre­view

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.

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