Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Boston Northeast GAA Finals Next Sunday

Sunday August 20 - Irish Cultural Center, Canton Mass.

4:00 Senior Football Final – Shannon Blues v Aidan McAnespies

McAnespies have made it this far against the odds - can they take the final step?
So, we are down to the last two teams standing after a very close run senior football championship.  Starting with the Shannon Blues.  The Blues have at times looked unstoppable this year, and at other times disjointed and perhaps a little uninterested.  Most of these players have played together over the last several years in Boston, and know each other’s style and tendencies.  The Blues can play physical and can play fast.  All positions on the field are more than adequately covered with the starting 13.  With the diamond of Barry Hartnett, Wayne Guthrie, Brian O’Seanachain, and Darren Wallace, the Blues are sure to win plenty of possession around the middle of the field.   Kieran Hurley and Josh Ryan can convert in the full forward line, while Greg Horan and Lee O’Donoghue can take the scores from farther out the field.  Brian “Biscuits” Kennedy has taken the Blues to the promised land before and the team is on a 4 game winning streak.  The Blues beat McAnespies earlier this year, however, this will be a different game. 

McAnespies made it to the playoffs as the sixth team in the door, and have made the final the hard way.  An extra time game against the Connemara Gaels, and a physical battle with Donegal have been character forming and in these games, the team has shown considerable mental resolve.  One thing McAnespies can do, and do it very well, is defend.  A strategy of getting behind the ball and forcing turnovers or poor percentage shots has worked the last 3 games.  Players such as Robbie Croft have been in an unfamiliar role deep inside their own defence, but have adapted well to winning possession and keeping it.  What McAnespies will be missing is Brian Breslin, who will be suspended for the final following last Sunday’s red card.  However, Marty Mongan has proven to be a goal threat on the edge of the square, and with points engineered by the running of Ferghal McGeough, Michael Walsh, and Niall Rooney, and the leadership of Danny McBride, McAnespies have found a way to make it work. 

The Blues will be the favourites in this one, however, we have learned not to write McAnespies off.  If it still close coming into the final 15 minutes be prepared for anything.

Junior A Football

1:00 Cork v Shannon Blues

Shannon Blues Juniors take the field for a final for the first time since 1999.
Cork have made the junior A football for the first time since 2014.  The rebels scraped through against the Connemara Gaels in the semi-final last week, but for the reprieve of an injury time penalty, Cork could have been on the outside looking in.  Cork showed resolve in reining in a wide Gaels lead, and the experience of that should stand to them in the final.  Cork’s talisman is their all-rounder, Cathail Arnold.  Arnold is the go to guy when the chips are down.  The Mourne man makes a difference whether playing in the middle of the field or in a more forward position, and close to goal the alarm bells ring when he has the ball in hand.  Paudi O’Shea is another dangerman.  O’Shea usually plays at corner forward and knows the way to goal, whether from play or frees.  In the middle of the field Jack Lynch has developed into a strong player.  Lynch has been an underage talent to keep an eye on over the years, and now is starting to deliver on that potential.  At the back club stalwarts Seamus Loftus, Colm Caffrey, and Darren O’Donovan will be tasked with holding the fort in the face of a determined Blues challenge, and will be looking to keep the goals out as this has been their Achilles heel recently.

The Blues have not been here in almost 20 years and now is a chance for dedicated clubmen and local youth products such as Pat Murray, Conor Fitzgerald, and Maurice Young to take the field in the biggest game of the season.  The Blues have a team that can play some nice football.  Mike Moriarty is steady in goal, and the experience of Shane Kelly, Derek O’Brien, Pat Moriarty, Conor Mullen and Mike Ralston will stand to the Blues in the heat of a final.  Combined with the talented Shane Connaughton (nephew of Bernie), and up front, Jack Goulding, the Blues make a strong case to claim the Pat Callaghan Cup.  Last week’s semi-final saw the Blues dethrone a good Donegal team with room to spare.  This game could go down to the wire.

Junior A Hurling Final

2:30 Tipperary v Offaly

Tipperary won the Sheehan Cup in June - can they add the junior championship on Sunday? 
Offaly beat Tom’s out to make it to the final to face Tipperary next Sunday.  The semi-final went to extra time, and with an extra man Offaly eased through in the additional period.  Jimmy Rigney is the first player that comes to mind when thinking of Offaly.  Rigney has the experience and know how, as well as a deft touch that can make all the difference.  Offaly’s half back Iine did well in the semi-final with Rian Dempsey, Jack Murray, and Adrian Cleary the starting point for Offaly attacks.  Along with a solid goalkeeper in Gary Sherlock and Stephen Brown at the other end capable of putting up more than a few scores, Offaly will be hoping to give Tipperary a rattle.

For their part the Premier County boys have been just that all season – the Premier Team.  Tipp have won every game by double digits.  Offaly managed to keep them to 10 points earlier in the year, and that is as close as anyone has got.  Whether Tipp will be held remains to be seen.  Tipp have a handful of seasoned campaigners at the senior level in Sean Delaney, Sean McGarr, and Cronan Dempsey.   Their major strength is at the corner forward positions with Russell Quirke and Sean Stafford liable to rack up the scores and put the game out of sight within a short period.  Along with Pat Moriarty, Kieran Lowrey and captain, Jimmy Maher, at center forward, Tipperary will be confident that Sunday will deliver the junior A championship.  Few would predict that it will turn out otherwise, but, stranger things have happened.

Junior C Hurling Championship Final

Barley House Wolves and Worcester will meet for the 2017 Junior C Hurling title at stake.
The junior C hurlers from Worcester and Concord NH will be on the main field Sunday to battle for the Northeast championship.  The Barley House Wolves from Concord finished top of the table, and Worcester close behind with 2 less points.  Their encounter during the season finished in a tie, so all signs point to a close game between these two teams.  Each side contains plenty of talent, and at this stage, plenty of stalwarts for their club’s cause.  Expect some fireworks from this one, the Sean Naughton, Dan Hannah, Alec Foley, Michael Gregoire and Co will be eager to defend the title they won last season and make it two in a row for the BHW.  Worcester, will be just as committed to taking it away down the Mass Pike. 
By Rory O'Donnell

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