Monday 14 October 2019

History repeated as Cullen brothers were outstanding!

Billy Dodd
Billy Dodd

Billy Dodd's Football Analysis

I am quite sure each and every one of the Glynn-Barntown players and supporters are still trying to figure out how they lost the county Senior football final last Sunday in Innovate Wexford Park.

They dominated their opponents for most of the preceding 48 minutes, but were scuppered by an amazing smash and grab in the last twelve minutes that eradicated a 41-year drought for the heroic Gusserane O'Rahilly's team.

Glynn really looked unbeatable in the first-half as their early ball tactics caused havoc in the Gusserane defence. Mark Fanning was in devastating form and looked unmarkable as he scored three brilliant points from play.

In comparison, Gusserane looked a bit short of ideas as they withdrew players from attack and seemed to have no outlet in the forward line when they did have possession.

Too often they lost the ball in the tackle or sent in aimless passes that were easy to defend.

A seven points to two lead at half-time did not flatter Glynn at this stage as they looked comfortable and in control. A great start to the second-half saw three unanswered points for Gusserane, but Glynn responded in style with Mark Fanning and Michael O'Regan restoring their five-point advantage.

Sometimes substitutions and changes backfire on a team, but on Sunday they proved to be an outstanding success for the O'Rahilly's team. Cathal Somers was tasked with marking Mark Fanning which had a major impact, Cillian Kehoe brought some much-needed aggression to midfield, Phillip Wallace was introduced as a target man at full-forward, and Mark Rossiter also made a great contribution.

Even Adrian Flynn's injury helped as he was deployed in the full-forward line with Phillip Wallace, finally giving Gusserane an outlet.

As a result of the changes made and with a shade of desperation, the ball was delivered early and direct, with Gusserane completely dominating the final quarter.

Glynn lost control at midfield where they had been on top for the whole game. They still created a number of great scoring chances but failed to convert due to poor finishing and a brilliant save from young Micheál Ryan in the Gusserane goal.

Incidentally, it's not true that he was too young looking to be a mascot, and that's why he ended up in goal!

Gusserane just gained momentum like a train that was impossible to stop as they showed amazing belief and determination in their quest to end 41 years of pain. Shane Cullen showed his class with some outstanding scores in the final period when it really mattered, the sign of a great player.

His brother, Graeme, was brilliant for the whole game and really played a captain's part.

The last two Cullen brothers to win a county title with Gusserane were Seamus and the late John, two outstanding players in their time. Seamus is Graeme and Shane's father and of course John was their uncle.

I heard a little story over the weekend about a proud mother and grandmother, Agnes Cullen, who was looking through old newspaper clippings of the 1975 final with her youngest son, Derek.

One headline read 'Cullen brothers were outstanding' in reference to Seamus and John's contribution to the victory. To have something like this as a keepsake for such a long time just shows the pride and joy that sport can bring to a family, something we don't often think about.

Agnes remarked to Derek that wouldn't it be great if Gusserane could win again, and her grandchildren, Graeme and Shane, could play their part in a victory.

Well Mrs. Cullen, I'm not a headline writer but I can tell you that they made an outstanding contribution in the final and you can be very proud of the way they played. Whether or not they were better than John and Seamus is something I'll let the family argue over.

Wexford People