Wednesday 23 October 2019

Just a couple of competitions left on the local scene

Alan Aherne: On The Line

The completion of another four major finals over the weekend ensures that only the Greenstar Under-21 Premier and Roinn 1 football championships remain to be decided.

I'm probably part of a small minority as I've been in attendance at all of the 16 main county deciders played to date.

That encompasses two Senior, two Intermediate, two Intermediate 'A', two Junior, two Junior 'A', two Junior 'B', Under-21 hurling Premier and Roinn 1, and two Minor Premier.

More often than not there's some type of clash, with perhaps two finals on simultaneously at different venues. Happily that didn't happen this year though, so I've had the opportunity of witnessing the joy and despair experienced in equal measure by the winners and losers at each and every one of the finals listed above.

From the 16 games played, it's interesting to note that none of them went to a replay. That's a rarity too, because many finals tend to be close-run affairs with a second day required.

A total of 20 clubs have been involved in these finals, with the table topped not surprisingly by St. Martin's who featured in a staggering six grades, winning three and losing three.

St. James', Crossabeg-Ballymurn and Glynn-Barntown played in three finals each and emerged with similar records of one win and two losses.

Oylegate-Glenbrien were successful in their two finals, while Adamstown suffered defeat on the double.

And from the clubs playing in one decider, glory went to Oulart-The Ballagh, Naomh Eanna, St. Joseph's, Monageer-Boolavogue, Taghmon-Camross, Volunteers, Davidstown-Courtnacuddy and Duffry Rovers, with defeats for Bannow-Ballymitty, Shelmaliers, Shamrocks, St. Anne's, Craanford and Gusserane.

It's important to note the contribution made by the referees of all 16 finals too. In my opinion the men in the middle did an excellent job by and large.

Some club partisans who were on the losing side might disagree with me, but I would rate all 16 performances in the 'good to very good' category. There was no major controversy and no downright poor displays, and I think it's a vindication of the new system whereby our referees were graded for the championships.

It was particularly pleasing to see several relatively new and inexperienced whistlers being appointed to county finals and doing fine jobs. I would expect to see many who fit this bill gaining promotion to a higher level next year, while those who were shown to be lacking in fitness and knowledge of the rules during some group games will be demoted to make way for them.

It may take a few years to sort it out fully, but eventually the cream of referees will have risen to the top and that will be sweet music to everyone's ears.

As I said, all we are left with now is action in both Under-21 football grades and, by my reckoning, these finals won't be played until December.

Of course that's not the ideal situation, but I'm not as annoyed about it as many others; I know I'm in a minority, but I don't think it's such a bad thing to be playing Under-21 football at this time of year at all.

The chief reason is because our county team will be out in this grade in February, 2016, so what better way is there for David Power to assess the players at his disposal than by seeing them in action with their clubs in meaningful games?

Secondly, hard-pressed fixtures makers might long for a day when all competitions would finish by October 31 and everyone could put their feet up for an extended break.

However, can the G.A.A. really afford to effectively shut down at club level for months on end? I don't believe so, and the Under-21 football championships provide a focal point at this time of year. I for one have no desire to see the gates of every club in Wexford closed throughout the months of November, December and January.

Finally on Under-21, it's the last grade left to be run on a knockout basis and that's another major attraction for me. It's do or die, with no hiding places, and that's why I'm looking forward to seeing how the football unfolds between now and Christmas.

Wexford People

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