Friday, August 15, 2014

Boston Semi-Finals Previews

The quest for the Boston championship titles continues this weekend at the ICC in Canton.  Seven semi-finals will be decided, along with the bonus of a playoff for a place in the Ladies senior football final to see who will advance to finals, and have a chance to represent the division in the North American Finals.

Senior Football

Sean Boyle will be key for Donegal
In senior football there are 2 semi-finals on tap.  The first sees Shannon Blues and Donegal meet in a battle that has the potential to be a fiery encounter.  Each team has reason for motivation.  The last time the teams met Donegal gave the Blues a severe drubbing, something that the Blues will desperately want to make amends for after having had two weeks to digest the defeat.  Donegal almost crashed out of the championship last week against Kerry.  It took a last minute point to see them through to this stage.  The key to the game will be how well the Blues can marshall the dynamic Donegal forward line containing Steven Griffin, Daniel McLaughlin, and Sean Boyle.  With the ability to move the ball at lightning speed, Donegal can put up scores very quickly.  The Blues have scoring threats in Sean O’Connor, Paul O’Connor, and David Clifford.  It promises to be an exciting encounter.

Wolfe Tones and Aidan McAnespies meet in the second of the senior football semi finals.  The Tones, to many people’s surprise, knocked out reigning champions Connemara Gaels with room to spare last week.  McAnespies present a different challenge.  Corner forwards Daniel McKinless and Liam Boland will require a close eye.  McAnespies will attack with speed and strength.  At center back Declan Lally embodies both qualities and can quickly turn defence into attack.  The Tones have made a habit of doing the same thing.  Last week the forward line had the shooting boots on.  Last year the Tones lost out because of some inaccurate shooting down the stretch, last week was quite the opposite with the forwards putting the critical scores over the bar in the last 10 minutes.  It will be interesting to see if the Tones can make it back to back playoff wins, or if McAnespies can maintain the psychological edge over their opponents.

Senior Hurling

Galway and Tipp clash Sunday in the Senior Hurling Semi Final
Galway and Tipperary will meet to determine who will advance to challenge Fr. Tom Burkes’s for the senior hurling title.  Both teams made a late run to make it to this stage.  Starting with the reliable James Skehill Galway are sound at the back.  The Half back line is anchored by Greg Lally at center back and the Gort native has proved his credentials in recent outings.  Paul Holden and Rory Hickey in the half forward line are scoring threats, while John Moylan can produce the spark if needed.  Sound keepers with inter-county credentials are a theme in this game.  Tipp have Waterford’s Clinton Hennessy between the posts.  Hennessy was a fixture between the posts for Tipp during his Boston days and is arguably the best keeper to have played in Boston before or since. Rory Sludds, Cronan Dempsey, Mark Kavanagh, and Jack Kelleher will need to be on their best form to pull out the win, and although Galway might have the edge on paper, Tipp have shown in recent games that they can produce the goods when needed. 

Ladies Senior Football Playoff

Leanne McCrystal and Shamrocks will look to knock off
 Champions Connacht Ladies Saturday.
Boston Shamrocks and Connacht Ladies meet in a playoff to determine who advances to meet the unbeaten Tir na nOg.  The teams split the spoils this season, and third game is required to separate the two.  The Shamrocks have returned to relevance in the Ladies senior football championship.  With some bite in a defence that contains the likes of Brittany McGuire, and threats going forward with Clodagh “Mango” McGovern, Shannon Kelly, Linda Cronin, and Leanne McCrystal, the Shamrocks have the tools to overcome the two time champions.  A hallmark of Connacht Ladies championship teams has been the ability to open up defences like a hot knife through butter.  This season we have seen flashes of that.  Full forward Catriona Foley is a major threat, and is ably supported by her cohorts in a forward line that also contains Jane Ward, Aisling Kerr, and Catriona Smith.  The teams are evenly matched and this one can go either way.

Junior Football Semi Finals

Cork junior A team will be looking to advance to the final Sunday.
On the junior football front there are back to back semi finals on tap. First up is Donegal and Aidan McAnespies.  Donegal have been the front runners this year.  With the likes of Hugh Devine, Mark Dunphy, Pauric McLaughlin, and Christy McLaughlin, Donegal have strength throughout the field.  The same can be said of their opponents.  McAnespies field a strong side.  From Barry Smith at the back, Neil Donaghy in midfield, and Aaron McKenna at corner forward, this game is likely to be as close as they come. 

Connemara Gaels will meet Cork.  The Gaels may not have been expecting to find themselves contending for a junior championship at the start of the season, though Cork will prove to be a tough opponent to overcome.  Cork were unlucky to finish second in the standings.  Cathal Moriarty at corner forward can turn it on and is ably supported by Jack Lynch, Mick Lyons, and Colm Caffrey further back the field.  The Gaels can blow hot and cold.  Big performances will be required from the Gaels, including key men Chris Devlin, Brian Joyce, Ciaran Lee, and Emmet McConnell, to pull off a surprise and make it to the final.

Saturday sees the junior B semi finals between the hot side, Shannon Blues, taking on Hartford, while Cork will meet Donegal to see who advances to next weekend’s final.

By Rory O'Donnell

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