A second chance
Cloughbawn set sights on football
One minute you have all these finals, then suddenly there's only one left and there's no silverware in the cabinet.
That's the position Cloughbawn find themselves in as they head into their Joyces Expert Intermediate 'A' football championship decider against Duffry Rovers at St. Patrick's Park on Friday (8 p.m.).
While focus has, up to now, understandably been on the Pettitt's Senior hurling final, this was always likely to be their best chance of a trophy. The crushing performance in their semi-final victory over Crossabeg-Ballymurn bore all the hallmarks of a team in top form.
They had conceded six goals against the Over The Water side in their two previous encounters this championship season but flipped that around with a sterling defensive effort themselves while netting a sextet of majors at the other end.
Duffry Rovers are worthy foes. Unbeaten in league and championship since March 19, the Coolree men have performed superbly to make the title decider as they look to bounce back to Intermediate football just three years after being relegated from Senior.
Arguably their run to the final, that has seen them defeat Geraldine O'Hanrahans and Craanford, was a little less taxing than their opponents, but you can only beat the teams put in front of you. The Duffry have done that up to now but Cloughbawn are tipped to edge this by a couple of points.
On Saturday in Wexford Park (3.15 p.m.), St. James' and Fethard meet again, seven days after they played a tit-for-tat Top Oil Intermediate 'A' hurling championship final that ended in a 0-12 apiece stalemate.
While the Ramsgrange side looked a little downcast after losing a lead deep into added time, that will quickly be forgotten when they get into their preparations this week. They seemed to emerge for the game unscathed injury-wise, and that's key at this stage of the season.
St. James' will be reasonably happy with how they dealt with the Dwyer double-team in the inside forward line and will likely feel the game is theirs for the taking if the deadly duo score no more than the four they shared evenly at the weekend.
On the other hand, Fethard must try to keep the ball away from Matthew O'Hanlon. The county player was centre-back only in name last weekend, popping up all over the defence, winning and clearing vital balls continuously.
Fethard forwards might have scored just four points from play in the game but their opponents' attackers only went one better. The Mogue's will be happy with their defensive showing and, apart from Kevin O'Grady, they will feel like they shaded all the individual battles back there.
If you like a flutter this is one to stay well away from, unless you're maybe a draw-backer. This could easily be that tight again. St. James' are the pick to nick it with the added experience proving vital, but if it's not this year for this Fethard team it will surely be next.
Gusserane have a second chance to claim a double when they renew acquaintances with Shelmaliers in Innovate Wexford Park on Saturday (1.30 p.m.) in the Junior hurling championship final.
The county football champions threw away a seven-point lead in the last five minutes at the weekend but live to fight another day. Credit where it's due, as for one team to cough up a lead, the other generally has to produce some magic and Shels did it just in time.
Having to play again won't worry the New Ross District side as they ride the crest of a wave. They have their Leinster campaign to look forward to the following week, but for now they can wrap up another piece of silverware at the second attempt.
Monageer-Boolavogue have had a quietly satisfactory season to date as they aim to build on their Junior 'A' hurling crown with an Enniscorthy Farm Systems Junior football championship title against Shamrocks in Bellefield (Sunday, 3.45 p.m.).
They knocked out the perennial underachievers Rathgarogue-Cushinstown in the semi-final in a tense, low-scoring thriller and will not be fazed by the occasion. However, Shamrocks are a different proposition.
The Enniscorthy town club will give you nothing easily and that means a lot in these types of games. However, they must remain disciplined. They were impressive in their semi-final win over Oylegate-Glenbrien and are backed to take the win and a place at the Intermediate 'A' table.
Preceding that, Monageer-Boolavogue meet Réalt na Mara in the Junior 'B' football semi-final. The men from Ballygarrett were impressive in their District final win over Ferns, and that has to stand to them. Their opponents haven't played since edging Starlights on August 19 and that's probably too much of a disadvantage to overcome.
On Saturday in St. Patrick's Park (3 p.m.), the Junior 'B' hurling championship final between Adamstown and Craanford should be a superb clash. Both have had a tough road to the final and there's little to choose between the sides. Expect it to be close with the Gorey District side shading it.
The AIB Leinster Club championships kick-off this weekend too. Taghmon-Camross make the relatively short journey up the N11 to Arklow (Pearse Park, 2 p.m.) to face Wicklow Intermediate champions Arklow Geraldines Ballymoney on Saturday.
Wexford clubs have held their own in the Leinster Intermediate football championship in recent years but that's partly because they have had the quality of Senior contenders (St James', Glynn-Barntown). It's always tough to call these games with no clear form-line but Taghmon-Camross have a fighter's chance of advancing.
Finally, a fixture that is not exactly certain to go ahead pits the Wexford Intermediate 'A' football champions against Castletown-Finea-Coole-Whitehall of Westmeath in the Leinster Junior championship.
That game is scheduled for Sunday in Westmeath (2 p.m.), but it's a long trip to make a little over 24 hours after winning a county final (should the Intermediate 'A' decider not be a draw, of course). If the winners do travel it's hard to see them getting the better of a side which beat the Dublin Junior winners in the preliminary round.