Thursday, August 21, 2008

Finals Previews

Sunday August 24, 1:30
Ladies Senior Football Final - Tir na nOg v Roscommon

Tir na nOg have looked like contenders for the championship all year. The Brighton side suffered only one defeat during the season to the Boston Shamrocks. Tir na nOg are a strong side and have some excellent forwards. Maria Keane would be the first name that comes to mind when mentioning the Tir na nOg forwards, but there are others that can make hay for Tir na nOg. Angela Monaghan at full forward, Colleen Barrett on the wing, and Katie Murphy at center forward. Roscommon won their first game of the season last week, and have reached the final by virtue of a fine overall performance against the Boston Shamrocks. Roscommon have some powerful weapons in their arsenal in Fiona Claffey, Karen Maloney and Caroline Benson, not to mention a solid keeper in Niamh Kavanagh - which can keep them in it even if the team is not playing well. Given Roscommon's record up to last weekend, the Shamrocks may have taken them a little lightly and fell into a big hole, however, when the Shamrocks dug in Roscommon found it difficult to keep up their momentum and escaped with a one-point win. The pressure will be on Tir na nOg since they carry the weight of expectation on their shoulders, not to mention that this would be the first senior championship for the club - the first one is the hardest to win. If the Brighton side start off in top gear Roscommon could find it tough going. I'd have to favour Tir na nOg to win their first senior football championship.

Sunday August 24, 4:30
Senior Hurling Final - Wexford v Tipperary
Referee: Alan Kelly (Galway)

Wexford are going for three-in-a-row for Boston championships on Sunday afternoon. The Slaneysiders have been a mixed bag this year, starting off well, going off the boil for a couple of games, and then putting in a great performance against Brighton rivals, Galway. Wexford have some players to turn a game. Shane Hennessy in the forward line, Austin Murphy in the middle, and Joe Clarke in the half back line will be key. One name that featured prominently early on was Richie Kehoe, the Wexford county hurler who decided to spend a year in Boston, started off the season well, and even last week his performance seemed to be lacking some spark. Tipp have grown into the season and made the final with their last game of year. Some may argue that Tipp should start games a man down since twice this year they have lifted their performance following a sending off of one of their own. Tipp have some solid players in Richie Hennessy, John Coughlin, and Cronan Dempsey. Then there is the Dublin county hurler who decided to came to Boston this year, Alan McCrabbe. Like the team as a whole McCrabbe has looked more comfortable as the season has progressed and a good performance from him will be vital to Tipp's cause. With last weekend off, Tipp could get off to a slow start, and falling behind in the early going could prove fatal. Wexford would seem to have the horses to claim their third Boston championship in a row, and I'd have to say I'd expect to see the Slaneysiders ahead when the final whistle blows.

Sunday August 24 3:00
Senior Football Final - Donegal v Aiden McAnespies
Referee: Paddy Russell (Tipperary).

A contrast in styles. McAnespies have been the pace-setters this year, and at times have looked far ahead of any of their nearest rivals. In their last couple of games McAnespies have looked mortal. The return to Ireland of players of the caliber of Mark Goettsche, David Conway, and Johnny Laverty has brought the side down a peg or two, while Donegal have seen Dualtach Molloy return after a hand injury. McAnespies are the more physical of the two sides, their back line played the Shannon Blues tough and did a good job keeping the Blues forwards in check. Colm McCrory seems to have found himself in the forward line again, and last week Benny McGettigan probably had his best outing in at least 2 years. Of course there are also Declan Lally and Conor McGourty. The St. Bridgets, Dublin, clubman who is spending the summer in Boston has been an important cog in the McAnespies machine, while McGourty is a forward of the highest class. Keeping the Dublin and Antrim county players in check will be important for Donegal's chances. Donegal are a finesse team and are capable of playing some lovely football. The northerners have a good midfield pairing in Donal McNulty and Ronan McNeilis. The side's fortunes have revolved around these two and they will need to be on form for Donegal to have a chance. The question is whether Donegal's forwards will be able to cope with the McAnespies backs. Molloy, Gareth Concar, and Eamonn Murphy have been to the fore in that area of the field but may be at a physical disadvantage. The Donegal backs will also have to cope with the likes of Lally, McCrory and McGourty - a tough assignment. Donegal will need to control posession from kickouts and make McAnespies chase them in order to win. McAnespies are the safe bet if the game becomes a grind it our affair, and I'd have to go with them to make it four in a row.

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