Stronger bench to tip scales in favour of Castletown crew
The Tom Doyle Supplies Senior football semi-finals take place this weekend with two potentially exciting ties in store.
First up will be Castletown and Gusserane, both reaching this stage with contrasting early-season form. Gusserane won three of their group games, finishing third in the table, while Castletown topped Group A with a one hundred per cent record.
Gusserane seem to be coming into form at the right time after an excellent win in the quarter-final against St. Anne's.
The return to the forward line of Shane Cullen, after playing in goal for most of the season, has added some much-needed firepower, and also the return from injury of Seán Ryan will give a few defenders lots to think about.
The positioning of Graeme Cullen at centre-back for the semi-final was a smart move by the Gusserane selectors as his reading of the game and passing ability are assets in that position. It also frees up Adrian Flynn for a more forward role in the team.
Castletown have been impressive so far this year with a mixture of youth and experience guiding them to the semi-final.
To date they have over-run teams usually in the early stages of their games, but they then seem to switch off, allowing their opponents a way back into the game.
Having said that, they still have not lost a game so their system is working. It seems when they are not dominating that they have a knack of keeping the scores against them to a minimum.
Colm Morris was playing as well as ever before his injury and has assistance in defence from his brother, Noel, and the Gardiners, Danny and Joe.Placing Conor Carty at full-forward has been a real success this year as his speed and skill are fully utilised in the Castletown style of play.
It also takes some of the scoring pressure off James Holmes.
In an expected tight contest I think the difference could be in the strength of the benches, and in that regard I believe Castletown have a bit more in reserve to call on, so I expect them to win by three or four points.
The second semi-final is an all-Wexford District affair with title favourites St. Martin's taking on their fierce rivals, Glynn-Barntown. The Glynn men are certainly on a roll at the moment having qualified for the hurling semis also.
Last year's Intermediate champions have done brilliantly to reach this stage with a tough win over Shelmaliers in the last game.
The return of Mark Fanning to the forward line has been a welcome bonus and a big help to their target man and top scorer Michael O'Regan.
This young side is ably led by some of the more experienced players like John Leacy, Michael Doyle and Brendan Doyle, and on their day are capable of beating any team.
St. Martin's are out to redeem themselves after last year's final defeat and have been impressive to date. They have a stream of young talent available to them and look strong in all positions.
Jake Firman, Aaron Maddock, Daithí Hayes and the O'Connors form a strong defence, but they have loads of scoring options in the forward line.
Martin's firepower to prevail
Jamie Carty, Ciarán Redmond, Ciarán Lyng and Paudie Kelly are just some of the men they can choose from, and it is for this reason I think St. Martin's will prevail. I expect their firepower to overcome their neighbours in this tie.
Whatever happens in Innovate Wexford Park on Sunday, the games surely can't be as bad as the first 35 minutes of the All-Ireland final last Sunday. I considered at half-time asking for a refund it was so bad.
Although the second-half excitement improved the game as a spectacle, I was hoping it would be a draw to give the game of football a chance to redeem itself.