Scene set for huge tac­ti­cal war

Wicklow People (West Edition) - - SPORT - BREN­DAN LAWRENCE Sports Edi­tor

SUN­DAY’S Light­ning Pro­tec­tion Ire­land Wick­low Se­nior Hurl­ing Cham­pi­onship fi­nal be­tween de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons Gle­nealy and Paul Car­ley’s Bray Em­mets has all the mak­ings of an ab­so­lute cracker on Sun­day at 3.30pm in Aughrim.

With a win for Bray Em­mets over Gle­nealy in the league sec­tion al­ready un­der their belts and with things look­ing very healthy up Old Conna way, the pres­sure would seem to be at the door of the threein-a-row chas­ing Gle­nealy but no bet­ter team that Garry Laf­fan’s side to deal with any and all pres­sures and to come out smil­ing broadly on the other side.

Hurl­ing fans can ex­pect a fas­ci­nat­ing bat­tle all over the field in this clash but prob­a­bly the most in­ter­est­ing area is that of mid­field.

Gle­nealy stal­wart Jonathon O’Neill Snr pro­duced a spe­cial per­for­mance against Carnew in the semi-fi­nal and on Sun­day there is lit­tle doubt­ing that he will yet again dic­tate how Gle­nealy per­form through his role of sit­ting in front of his half-back line and boss­ing the game with the nat­u­ral skill and im­mense hurl­ing in­tel­li­gence that he pos­sesses in abun­dance.

You’d ex­pect Bray Em­mets to start Luke Maloney and Diar­muid Master­son in the mid­dle while the busy and tor­ment­ing Paul O’Brien will ac­com­pany ‘Bosco’ Snr.

What we have there are four very dif­fer­ent hurlers all col­lid­ing in the mid­dle of a mas­sive bat­tle and how each side ap­proaches that area will be key to the win­ning and los­ing of this game.

It’s likely that Luke Maloney will fol­low ‘Bosco’ and try and thwart or negate his mon­strous in­flu­ence on the game and Maloney could be just the man to come close to that given his man-mark­ing abil­i­ties and his hurl­ing prow­ess.

It can’t be Diar­muid Master­son as the Bray mid­fielder ap­pre­ci­ates the free­dom too much to be tied to such a re­stric­tive role but if it is Luke Maloney then you have Paul O’Brien and Diar­muid Master­son set­ting off ex­plor­ing the far reaches of the county grounds.

The area most peo­ple will be want­ing to fo­cus on is the Gle­nealy de­fence, richly pop­u­lated with ta­lented hurlers as it is. Does Leighton Glynn start at cen­tre back again? Do they start War­ren Ka­vanagh and Danny Staunton in the full-back line as they did in the semi-fi­nal or do they push War­ren to mid­field to fol­low Master­son? If the ta­lented Ka­vanagh stays, then ex­pect him to mark Christy Moore­house and Danny Staunton to mind the house, but if Christy veers to­wards the 45-yard line then it’s Gary Byrne v Christy Moore­house all day long.

Gle­nealy won’t be los­ing too much sleep over the Bray at­tack in the sense that they will feel more than ca­pa­ble of hold­ing them rel­a­tively tightly but Michael Boland, Davy Maloney and Eoin McCor­mack can wreak havoc on a side if they are not play­ing at the top of their game so any sleepi­ness is go­ing to be pun­ished ruth­lessly.

The key man for Bray Em­mets is the hurl­ing supremo John Hen­der­son at cen­tre back. Matthew Traynor started there on Jack Doyle in the semi-fi­nal and picked off three points be­cause Jack Doyle played sim­i­lar to John Hen­der­son to a de­gree in that he tried to pro­tect his full-back line. Traynor could be the hand­ful that Gle­nealy need Hen­der­son to have to stop him ex­ert­ing that huge in­flu­ence on the game.

Or, and it’s a big or, could we see Leighton Glynn be­ing pushed for­ward to oc­cupy the ta­lented Hen­der­son with War­ren Ka­vanagh mov­ing to cen­tre back.

Sim­larly to Gle­nealy, the Bray Em­mets full-back line will back them­selves to deal with the sig­nif­i­cant threat of Gary Hughes, Jonathon O’Neill Jnr and Alan Driver. Peter Walsh, Karl Lacey, and Sean Maloney will feel they are more than ca­pa­ble of han­dling what­ever the Gle­nealy in­side line can bring and with Cian Lo­han and Daire Hen­der­son ahead of them they will feel well sup­ported.

There are un­told pos­si­bil­i­ties to how this game is go­ing to pan out. The Oc­to­ber wind in the county ground will play a huge part as al­ways. Will what­ever cap­tain wins the toss play with it or against it and how will they each set up whether they be fac­ing it or run­ning with it at their backs?

These are the ques­tions that will oc­cupy the minds of the man­age­ment teams and hurlers of both camps. For the spec­ta­tors, we just have to hope the day comes quick so that we can watch it all un­fold and en­joy the drama of county hurl­ing fi­nal day.

Who will win the ti­tle this Sun­day af­ter­noon?

Alan Driver ac­cepts the cup from Martin Fitzger­ald last year.

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