Friday 24 November 2017

Barren spell to be bridged one way or the other in final

On The Line with Alan Aherne

Alan Aherne
Alan Aherne

Sunday's Tom Doyle Supplies Senior football championship final is a game with endless possibilities, and I must say I'm really looking forward to it.

A neutral will always approach a title decider with keener anticipation than usual when both contestants are bidding to bridge long gaps.

In that regard there's going to be a major outpouring of emotion unless we have a draw given that Gusserane haven't been successful since 1975 while Glynn-Barntown only reached the summit once before in 1996.

And, dare I say it, but that latter victory was lost somewhat at the time in the aftermath of Wexford's All-Ireland hurling triumph which naturally enough was the be all and end all for months afterwards.

Perhaps Glynn-Barntown didn't get the credit they deserved as a result for a win over Kilanerin who were caught in the midst of a punishing schedule as they had been nominated to represent the county in Leinster and went as far as the semi-final.

That is ancient history now though, and the Wexford District side are just one step away from following in the footsteps of St. James' who won the Senior title at the first attempt in 2015 after Intermediate success.

Indeed, the Killurin crew were their victims at the death two years ago but recovered to overcome Bannow-Ballymitty at the same stage in 2015.

I can recall a conversation early this summer with my work colleague P.J. Banville who had seen Glynn-Barntown up close and personal when they brushed his own Horeswood team aside.

He was impressed by their youthful vigour and pace, marking them out as a team to watch. I must say that I was sceptical myself as to the influence they might have, but P.J. has been proven right.

As with all finals, this game throws up a number of interesting questions. For example, Michael O'Regan was inspired in the semi-final win over St. Martin's, so who will Gusserane deploy in a bid to shut him down?

Likewise, Adrian Flynn is a key source of scores for the New Ross District side running from deep, so who will be handed the onerous task of keeping him in check?

Gusserane will have seen how Glynn-Barntown prospered from pumping long balls into the space around speedy attacker Robert Dempsey during the semi-final. And, given that they have been deploying the versatile Shane Cullen as a sweeper when playing against the wind anyway, the former county Senior could be defending primarily on Sunday.

Then again, that will blunt an attack that is already without the younger of the Cullens, team captain Graeme, who has settled in well to a new role at centre-back.

John Leacy was clearly struggling with his shoulder injury during Glynn-Barntown's hurling loss on Sunday, but Pat Barden and his fellow mentors have the consolation of knowing that the physically strong Craig Doyle is capable of filling in at the heart of the defence.

He did just that in the semi-final but, in similar circumstances to Shane Cullen with the opposition, Doyle's forceful presence would be missed out of the forward line too.

The fact that Gusserane were here before as recently as 2014, losing so narrowly to St. Anne's, should help to calm any early nerves, while some of their crew also have past experience from 2008.

And any bench that can introduce a player with the experience of Philip Wallace and the promise of Mark Rossiter, who played Junior with Wexford last year at the age of 17, has to be regarded as strong.

This might be Glynn-Barntown's first Senior final for this particular group, but practically all of them have been involved in various Minor and Under-21 deciders, not to mention last year's Intermediate triumph.

As for a prediction, it's an extremely hard game to call, particularly as there's no recent meeting between the clubs to use as a form guide.

The aforementioned P.J. Banville was canvassing ads for our preview last week and ended up with 18 in an even divide. I'm taking that as an omen for Sunday, so it's a 0-9 each draw for me!

Wexford People

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