St Anne’s Can Retain Title 15/05/15 : the chronicle.ie

St Anne’s Can Retain Title 15/05/15

| May 15, 2015

The senior football championship is in full swing with two rounds having been played recently. I suppose it’s no real surprise that the early pace setters are county champions St Anne’s and the team they beat narrowly in the semi-final last year, Shelmaliers. Along with those two I take Gusserane and St Martin’s to also be in strong contention for the title, with perhaps outside bets in Castletown and Fethard.

 

One has no real idea when the next round of games will be played but it’s conceivable that it might not be until the end of July which would be well over three months since the last round and that is far too big a gap really. It is difficult to keep players motivated in such a scenario and almost impossible to improve standards significantly when there are not regular games. With the county team having been relegated to division four of the national league, football is at a bit of a nadir and could do with any boost it can get.

Back to the championship itself and starting with county champions St Anne’s. I believe they can retain their title as they have the best forward line around and were able to win the final last year without one of those ace forwards. Liam Og McGovern. They also have the returning Rory Stafford to boost their challenge. Rory has been in the U.S. for a number of years and is probably in the twilight of his career but he is a great athlete and will bring great experience and leadership to his team. Arguably, though, David Fogarty remains his side’s most influential player as he continues to pull the strings in the middle of the field. But they will also feel that they can be in the shake up for the hurling and they will need to get the balance right but if any team can do it, it is St Anne’s.

But, as stated, the Rathangan men will face a serious challenge from Shelmaliers, Gusserane and St Martin’s. Shels have great strength in depth but the injured Clive Lawlor will be a big loss to them; they came very close last year and it would not surprise me if they went all the way this year. They have a very athletic team with most of their team having played at various levels for Wexford. Of course they will be making a huge effort to retain their hurling title and that could impact on their football preparations. The same could be said for St Martin’s who certainly have the quality to retain a title they last won two years ago. It could all depend on how they go in the hurling as with a fine young team emerging, they probably have title aspirations there too.

Gusserane came very close in the final last year and they will feel that they can go one better this year. They will be particularly motivated as it is the fortieth anniversary of their last win in 1975 and for a renowned football club that is far too long to be out of the winners enclosure. They probably have the forwards to do it but their backline needs strengthening and the return of one of their great servants, Philip Wallace, from his club in Dublin will undoubtedly help in that regard.

Castletown and Fethard could be dark horses for honours with the former a very consistent team in championship terms and should get a great boost when Conor Carty returns from injury. They could have beaten Gusserane last year had they taken early goal chances. They had a surprise loss to Starlights in the first round this year but they were without one of their most influential players, James Holmes, on that occasion due to injury. They are a highly experienced team and cannot be ruled out.

And the same applies to Fethard who were in the final only two years ago and have a very youthful team that is only going to get better. It is good to see Kevin Rowe back in action after his cruciate knee injury and the seasiders will give any team in the championship a stern test as they proved in their narrow defeat to St Anne’s in the second round recently

I am not dismissing out of hand the chances of the other six teams as they have their merits too but feel that the probable winners will come from the aforementioned four. I f I was to pick six players to make a big impact on the championship they would be: Liam Og McGovern, St Anne’s, Simon Donohoe, Shels, Sean Ryan and Graeme Cullen, Gusserane, Daithi Waters, St Martin’s and Danny Gardiner, Castletown.

Sledging is Always Wrong

The fall out continues from the All Ireland U21 football final with Tipperary alleging that some Tyrone players engaged in verbal intimidation in the course of the game. Referees should really have a zero tolerance policy towards that kind of behaviour as if not checked can lead to serious indiscipline such as brawls. Tipperary, apparently, were aware of what was coming as their manager Tommy Toomey was quoted as saying:” we had the boys well-versed about what to expect verbally and not to react”   Tyrone manager Fergal Logan was refused admittance to the Tipp dressing room after the game apparently because something might have been said that could have exacerbated the situation. I always detested such conduct on the field when I was playing myself and if a team has to revert to such “tactics” to win a game it is a very hollow victory indeed

by Jim McGovern

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