‘Con­di­tions are go­ing to play a mas­sive part’

Wicklow People (West Edition) - - SPORT -

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.

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