Saturday 22 September 2018

A novel pairing is guaranteed for the Senior football final

Alan Aherne
Alan Aherne

On the Line with Alan Aherne

A brand new pairing is guaranteed for the Tom Doyle Supplies Senior football championship final, regardless of the outcome of Sunday's appealing double-header in Innovate Wexford Park.

While Castletown and Starlights have plenty of previous experience of the big stage, Shelmaliers have yet to get to a decider.

And with St. Martin's having faced Fethard and St. James' on their two final appearances thus far in 2013 and 2015 respectively, we are going to have a fresh new match-up on football's biggest day next month.

Both games are difficult to call, and there's a growing feeling that Starlights have more than enough material to get past the Castletown challenge a mere year after coming through a relegation final.

I watched the teams clash in a group game last month when the Enniscorthy men were only beaten by one point after driving a golden late goal chance over the bar.

And they came so close despite the absence of county hurlers Liam Ryan and Kevin Foley who are key components of their engine room.

Castletown didn't look particularly impressive on that occasion, but they racked up 3-15 in the subsequent quarter-final dismissal of Taghmon-Camross and seemed to have stepped up their performance levels with the onset of the knockout stages.

Naturally enough the acquisition of Peter Devine and Ben Brosnan has added strength at either end of the field, while I was very impressed with the performance of attack-minded full-back Danny Gardiner in their last game.

As for the District derby that will follow, I feel that the draw was the best possible one for St. Martin's as they won't want to give an inch to opponents they know so well.

That was also the case in the quarter-final when they were on high alert to face Glynn-Barntown, especially after flopping at their hands in the penultimate round last year.

Switching from football to hurling and back again week after week has its pitfalls, but it can also be a beneficial momentum-builder if the results are going well.

Having said that, Shelmaliers' exit from the hurling should steel their resolve after taking St. James' to a replay before bowing out on their last semi-final appearance two years ago.

It's a bumper weekend of big football games, starting with the Friday night lights meeting of Naomh Eanna and Crossabeg-Ballymurn in the Intermediate 'A' decider.

These two clubs are absolutely flying in both codes, and the fact that the winners will be in Leinster action at home to the Carlow winners just eight days later may yet lead to a fixtures headache.

Gorey lost the first Intermediate 'A' final in 2012 to St. Fintan's after a replay, and also went down to St. Mary's (Maudlintown) in the 2014 decider.

Crossabeg-Ballymurn were the runners-up to St. Joseph's in 2015, having claimed the Junior 'A' in 2012 before losing the Junior final in 2013 and then winning it after a replay in 2014.

Their victims three seasons ago after a replay, Rathgarogue-Cushinstown, are through to the Junior decider once again and will take on the St. Martin's second string in Innovate Wexford Park on Saturday at 4.30 p.m.

They will come up against a club well accustomed to that winning habit at every level, but the New Ross District men are on a bit of a roll themselves after managing to stay up in last weekend's do-or-die Intermediate hurling relegation clash with Ballygarrett.

Gusserane have a special incentive to win Saturday's Junior 'A' final versus HWH-Bunclody in Bellefield at 2 p.m., given that the cup is in memory of Ivan Duffin and David Browne, two of their talented young clubmen who sadly lost their lives in a road traffic accident.

Unfortunately, there is no room for sentiment in sport, but I think every neutral will be rooting for them for that reason alone.

Then again, it's a big day for HWH-Bunclody too as their Intermediates will attempt to reach the final in part two of that double bill versus Ferns St. Aidan's. Kilanerin will be expecting to join them with a win against St. Mary's (Rosslare) in Innovate Wexford Park.

Wexford People

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