Thursday, August 25, 2016

Boston Northeast GAA Finals Previews

Sunday August 28

Senior Football Final

4:30 Galway v Wolfe Tones

The top two teams at the end of the group stage meet in the final next Sunday.  For Galway this is their first time in a final since 1989 when the Brighton based club last won the championship.  Coincidentally, Wolfe Tones are also waiting 27 years.  Founded in 1989 the Tones have never won a senior football championship, and are in their third final in a row.

Jerry Troy and the Wolfe Tones looking for their
 first senior championship.
In their regular season meeting the Tones came out on top, banging in 5 goals, but a lot has changed since for both clubs.  Galway have gelled and looked impressive in the final 15 minutes in their semi-final with Donegal.  After Donegal went ahead with a second half goal Galway responded in kind, and then some.  Fielding a balanced team, Galway have some match winners in Michael Daly (son of the famous Galway footballer from the 1980’s, Val Daly) and the home based Kevin Cummins.  With a lively half back line that are willing to run all day Galway will keep the Tones on their toes.

Wolfe Tones look serious in their quest to claim the senior title, and have loaded up in that mission.  A team that can afford to leave Kildare’s Thomas O’Connor on the line has some serious talent.  Their last outing left Connemara Gaels in the dust as Wicklow’s Leighton Glynn and Louthman Andy McDonnell had their side humming.  The Tones took it up to a level seldom seen in Canton, and with a deep bench and expertise on the line the Tones have the tools.  They will have to bring it on Sunday though as Galway are not likely to give away anything easy.  This is a tough one to call, it could be close all the way and the team that does not make the big mistake down the stretch will be lifting the cup at about 6:00 Sunday evening.

Senior Hurling Final

2:45 Tipperary v Galway

Defending champions Tipperary reached the final by way of a semi-final victory over Fr. Tom Burke’s at the ICC last Sunday.  Galway won the North American Final the preceding year, and with their juniors in Saturday’s final this is a big year for the Brighton based hurling club as they are in the hunt for a senior and junior double. 

Tipperary's Mark Kavanagh in action versus Tom's.
In the last outing between the teams in early August Galway came out on top, tallying a haul of 26 points – impressive scoring.  The defence is led by Corkman, Mark Ellis while up front fellow rebel, Patrick White, has a keen eye for the posts.  Darragh Murray is another lining out for the Tribesmen who can split the posts from distance and Galway will not be hurting for scores.  Galway will have to cope with the loss of Jamie Coughlin who returned to Ireland recently, with the star forward in the lineup Galway would have had a distinct edge, but his loss evens things up a little on the field.

Tipperary have a number of weapons in the Arsenal that could turn the tide in their favor on Sunday, not least Nenagh man, Tommy Heffernan.  Heffernan has been a major asset to Tipperary at corner forward this year, and farther out the field, young Limerick stars Cian Lynch and Barry Nash have the skill to carry Tipp forward.  The Premier county side will be looking to captain Cronin Dempsey the lead the charge against what will be a very tough test.  Most would probably give Galway the edge on Sunday, but if Tipperary can knock them off their stride early they have every chance.

Ladies Senior Football Final

1:00 Connacht Ladies v Boston Shamrocks

Boston Shamrocks already have the Orla Benson Cup in the bag, as well as the junior football championship and will be looking for a clean sweep of trophies when they face the Connacht Ladies Sunday afternoon.  For their part, the Connacht Ladies are the defending ladies senior football champions and will not be in any mood to see their rivals walk away with the cup.

Connacht Ladies Jane Ward.
The Shamrocks have yet to be beaten and one more win will return the club to the halcyon days of the 1990s and early 2000’s when they dominated ladies football in the town.  The Shamrocks have a potent forward line spearheaded by Donegal native, Aisleen Cunningham.  Cunningham has plenty of talent around her including Rebecca Mongan and Sara Jane McDonald, and will keep the Connacht Ladies back line busy for the afternoon.  With Leanne McCrystal in the middle of the field, and veterans Cathy McEleaney and Brittany Maguire in defence the Shamrocks look well positioned to carry the day,

Connacht Ladies have plenty of ammo with which to try and deliver a second championship in a row.  Jane Ward is the first name that comes to mind, the Tyrone girl covers a lot of ground and is a great finisher.  Local girl Aisling Kerr, along with Aisling Reynolds and Rose Boyce will be doing their best to upset the Shamrocks early and make them pay for any mistakes.  Starving the Shamrocks forwards of the ball will be the key to a Connacht victory as the defending champions cannot afford to find themselves chasing the game early.  Ladies finals in Boston have been known to produce classics, we might see another one Sunday.

The weekend will also see three junior championships up for grabs.  At 11:30 on Sunday the Connemara Gaels meet Donegal in the junior A football final.  The Gaels have not been here for a while and have a very talented team that should give Donegal a run for their money.  A handful of players who last year lined out for the senior team have transformed the Gaels’ juniors fortunes.  Coleman Mulkerrins and Damien Doolan, along with Niall Loughman in the middle of the field could be key for the Gaels, along with Phil O’Sullivan at corner forward.  Donegal have youth an talent in their corner with Mark Canney at the back, Dean Kelly in midfield, and up front Karl Archibald at center forward and Cian Clinton on the wing will cause no end of headaches for the Gaels defenders.  An intriguing contest awaits.
Saturday will see two junior hurling finals contested.  Junior A between Galway and new boys Offaly will be an interesting encounter.  Offaly have plenty of talent in their lineup with Tommy Rigney and Andy McRedmond at the back, and Stephen Brown, Jimmy Rigney and the dangerous James Kilmartin up front.  There are plenty of scoring options for Offaly, however Galway can match their opponents in that respect.  The Beagh trio of Tommie McKeown, Padraig Landers and John Moylan will have the tribesmen motoring their their quest for the first of what could be a weekend double. 
The junior C hurlers of Barley House Wolves from Concord NH and Hartford CT, all homegrown players who took up the sport in recent years will open the weekend’s action on Saturday afternoon.  Hartford find themselves in the final for the first time and face a Barley House Wolves will be looking to reclaim the cup after losing out to Portland ME last season. 

Finals Schedule (at the Irish Cultural Center, Canton Mass.)

Saturday August 27
3:30 Junior C Hurling Final:  Barley House Wolves v Hartford
5:00 Junior A Hurling Final:  Offaly v Galway

Sunday August 28
11:30 Junior A Football Final:  Donegal v Connemara Gaels
1:00 Ladies Senior Football Final:  Connacht Ladies v Boston Shamrocks
2:30 Boston Youth Board - U14 Feile Team parade
2:45 Senior Hurling Final:  Galway v Tipperary
4:15: Boston Youth Board - CYC parade

4:30 Senior Football Final:  Galway v Wolfe Tones

No comments: