LOCC Solicitors IFC Final
St. Enda’s v Gort na Mona (Corrigan Park -2-30 Saturday)
Referee: Eamon McAuley
At a first glance Saturday’s Intermediate football Championship final at Corrigan Park looks an easy enough one to predict but at closer examination the result might not be as predictable as the statistics would suggest.
While the first ever Senior final between two South West teams, Cargin and Creggan the following day has provided most of the talking points this week on the build up to the meeting of neighbouring clubs from the parish of Duneane, Saturday’s Intermediate final could easily turn out to be a more open and entertaining game.
St. Enda’s, who have had an excellent first season in division 1 following promotion last year will rightly start favourites by virtue of their performances in the higher grade but they would do well to treat the boys from Enright Park with the greatest respect.
Gort na Mona have had an excellent season and are still on course for a league and championship double following last week’s win over division 2 league leaders, St. Brigid’s. A week previous they proved too good for All Saints Ballymena in the Championship semi-final and have hit a rich vein of form just at the right time.
Two goals from Dermot McVeigh and Padraig McHugh, the first an excellent half volley from 30 yards and the second a penalty paved the way for a two point win over an All Saints side who have been going well themselves in recent weeks .
Five days earlier Gort na Mona looked to be on their way out of the championship when they trailed Dunloy in the quarter-final under the lights at Clooney by a point as the game entered injury time but Dermot McVeigh struck with a late goal to break the South West men’s hearts.
It was perhaps their win over St. James Aldergrove in the previous round that made people sit up and take notice however. The Belfast side hit an impressive 2-16 against the Crumlin men and over ran St. James in the second half and I left the Bear Pit that day convinced that it would take a very good side to beat them. Their subsequent win over Dunloy and All Saints only served to add to that opinion.
As I said, it will take a good team to beat them and herein may lie the problem for the boys from the Mona Bye-pass. St. Enda’s are a good side and would probably have started as championship favourites before a ball was kicked by virtue of their performances in their first division 1 campaign for many years.
They have carried that form into the Intermediate championship and while not totally convincing in their opening game they did enough to overcome the challenge of a St. Paul’s side who have struggled in division 2 this year and have been subsequently relegated.
That result might have placed a bit of doubt as to their true championship aspirations but their doubters could do nothing other than be impressed by their performance against St. Ergnat’s Moneyglass in last week’s semi-final at Lamh Dhearg.
Moneyglass looked well in contention when they trailed St. Enda’s by only two points at the break but were turning around with a strong wind behind them in the second half but it was the men from Hightown who came out to control the game against the breeze, outscoring their opponents 1-5 to 0-1.
St. Enda’s play a slow methodical possession game but can be deadly when the break and are a side laced with talented and skilful players with bags of space. They have an experienced keeper in former county player, Paddy Flood while Michael McNamee and John McAuley are at the heart of a strong and mobile defence. Conan Lyttle at wing-half is a player who attacks at every opportunity and weighed in with a goal against the South West men.
Philip Curran and Joe Maskey form a formidable mid-field partnership and in attack they have players who can hurt the opposition with their pace and scoring threat. Odhran Eastwood, Ruairi Scott, Donal Walsh, Peter Healey and Eoin Nagle can all be match winners on their day.
Gort na Mona will again look to the scoring threat of Dermot McVeigh and Padraig (Poggy) McHugh to provide a scoring threat but they have others who can hurt St. Enda’s if the opportunity arises. Darren Boyd, Brendan Corr and Patrick McCaffrey were all on target against All Saints and keeper, Thomas McCaffrey weighed in from a ‘45’.
Tommy McGoran and Brendan Corr are solid in a Gort na Mona defence who’s tackling was strong but disciplined against the Ballymena side while the return of Paul Conlon to their mid-field has been a real bonus this year.
Both sides have excellent managers with St. Enda’s guided by former Antrim supremo, Frank Fitzsimmons and Gort na Mona under the management of Sean McKenna. The former Rossa player had two excellent seasons as manager of Aldergrove before planning their downfall this year.
The Glengormley men will start as favourites and, given space they have the ability to hurt their division 2 opponents but if Gort na Mona can hang in there until the closing stages then they are quite capable of causing an upset as they aim to bring an excellent season to a fruitful conclusion.
POSSIBLE LINE OUTS
St Endas v Moneyglass: P Flood, C Eastwood, M McNamee, C Jennings, C Lyttle), J McAuley, C McAuley, P Curran, J Maskey, E Gibson, R Scott O Eastwood D Walsh P Healy, E Nagle Subs: K Healy for E Gibson C Morgan for D Walsh M Morgan for P Curran
Gort na Mona v All Saints: Thomas McCaffrey; Connor Connolly, Tommy McGoran, Christopher Devlin; David McErlean, Brendan Corr, Aidan McDonagh; Christopher Carson, Paul Conlon; Brendan Burns, Darren Boyd, Desi McClean; Dermot McVeigh, Padraig McHugh, Patrick McCaffrey.
Referee: Eamon McAuley (Erin’s Own)