‘Conditions are going to play a massive part’
GLENEALY manager Garry Laffan is seeing this weekend’s county final clash with Bray Emmets as a reverse fixture of the 2017 final when the Reds thwarted the Bray men’s four-in-a-row dreams and he understands that the defending champions will have to produce a quality performance if they are to hold off the challenge of Paul Carley’s rejuvenated outfit.
There’s a three-in-a-row on the line this Sunday in the county grounds with Glenealy hoping to follow that victory over Bray Emmets and last year’s defeat of James Hickey’s Carnew with a win on the big day this weekend.
To achieve that goal Garry Laffan must plot a course around his club colleague Paul Carley’s side. Both men hail from the Glynn-Barntown club in Wexford, both hurled at Senior level for years together, both played with the county and now they will go toe to toe in Wicklow’s flagship hurling day to see who are the kings of the Garden for 2019.
‘I would have hurled with Paul for years,’ said Garry. ‘He’s a few years young than me so I wouldn’t have hurled much at underage with him, but he came on the scene (Senior) three or four years after I had established myself and we would have hurled together for 10 or 12 years. We’d have a good tradition down here. It’s the talk of the parish at the moment, there’s a bit of fun about it, but at the end of the day Paul is doing his job, I’m doing my job and we both enjoy what we do, but there won’t be anything personal. There’ll be bragging rights for a week or two and that’s it,’ he added.
Getting to the final meant dispatching the old enemy Carnew Emmets in the semi-final. Conditions were difficult but the defending champions never really looked in any major danger over the course of the hour. Garry Laffan says a strong defensive showing and a very positive start laid the foundations for the victory.
‘It was always going to be difficult. Everyone understands that when Glenealy and Carnew meet, there’s always going to be an edge to it. We got off to a great start, we had four points on the board early and it was the performance in the first half that laid the foundation for the victory. We created chances and we took a lot of our chances and we had 1-11 at half-time, good shooting.
‘Disappointed with the second half. We struggled to create chances and when we did, we didn’t take them. A four-point return in the second half won’t win many matches and certainly won’t win a county final so that’s one aspect we need to improve upon,’ he said.
Match ups were key in the semi-final against James Hickey’s men. Carnew were looking to TJ Hennessy to unlock the Glenealy defence but Danny Staunton was in charge of whatever very limited ball that went in. Warren Kavanagh negated the influence of Enda Donohoe from play while Leighton Glynn lorded it at centre back.
‘Balls were slippy on the day, conditions were difficult so it’s always going to be a backs game. Come September and October that’s the way it goes but the match ups worked for us and when they work it’s great and when they don’t it’s not so great. Leighton (Glynn) was very good for us. He’s enjoying a new lease of life for us in defence. Leighton was heavily involved in the football and with the county (selector) so time is always a bit of a pressure so when he was there, we played him across the half-back line of midfield to try and get as much hurling into him as we could and he had a couple of very good games there. His reading of the game is quite good,’ said Garry.
Danny Staunton has served his club superbly and selflessly since captaining the side to that wonderful win in 2017. Normally better suited to midfield or an attacking role, the humble Staunton has toiled relentlessly and impressively in the full-back line since Garry Laffan arrived on the scene.
‘We are very lucky that we have some very decent backs and while Danny is probably more suited to midfield or the forwards there’s never a word from him when he’s asked to sacrifice his own game for the good of the team. He’s a humble guy and Danny was captain in year one (2017) and he has shown leadership at all times for Glenealy,’ he added.
A ‘stuttering’ journey through the league section of the championship is how Garry Laffan describes Glenealy’s journey to the county final.
An early victory over Avondale (3-18 to 0-17) was followed by the only defeat of the campaign for the defending champions, that to Bray Emmets by 3-16 to 1-13. Garry Laffan says neither himself nor Paul Carley will be taking anything from that game given that both sides were short key men.
‘They were the better team on the night, but we had about eight lads on the team who will be starting on Sunday. We were missing the two Twinnies (Emmett and Jamie Byrne), John Manley, Gary Byrne, Warren Kavanagh, Sam O’Dowd, Joey Driver Jnr, Bosco Snr and Leighton Glynn and they were missing a few as well so the game at the weekend will be totally different,’ he said.
Garry Laffan expects a tough challenge on Sunday afternoon from Paul Carley’s men and he understands that his side will need to be at the top of their game to secure that three-ina-row of Senior crowns.
‘They’re after bringing in a few new lads, Ronan McMahon, Cian Lohan and David Maloney, so they’re finding new players. In 2017, Glenealy hadn’t won it for a few years and hunger got us over the line. We’re hoping to get it right but it’s not going to be easy. If we can produce a full performance, we’ll be there or thereabouts.
‘Conditions are going to have a massive part to play on Sunday and we’re going to have to create scoring chances and take them.
‘We were disappointed with the full-forward line last week but over the last number of years they’ve always produced, and we’ll need them firing on all cyclinders.
‘Complacency is a bit of a worry, that they’ve done this now on three occasions, but we’re hoping the hunger is still there and that the young lads coming in will drive us on. A lot of these young lads have the opportunity of winning this in their own right this year,’ he added.
Glenealy boss Garry Laffan and Bray Emmets manager Paul Carley both soldiered together for Glynn-Barntown for over a decade.