Club championship business end beckons

So it’s down to the final six in the All-Ireland senior club championship and, barring any draws this coming Sunday, there’ll be just four clubs still in the hunt for the Andy Merrigan Cup when hostilities recommence early in the New Year.

Six, you ask? I know, three out of the four provincial finals have already been played – with just the Leinster one to come, this Sunday – but the London champions get to join the fun at the All-Ireland quarter-final stage and this year it’s the wonderfully named Kingdom Kerry Gaels who take the field at this juncture. Based on North London’s Finchley – the constituency, incidentally, that returned Margaret Thatcher to the House of Commons from 1959 to 1992 – the Gaels are set to take on the newly-crowned Ulster champions Ballinderry this coming Sunday over in Ruislip.

The Derry and Ulster champions will, of course, be unbackable favourites to prevail on Sunday and you’d be forgiven for assuming that the result in Ruislip is a foregone conclusion. However, many (including myself) made that same assumption about last Sunday’s Munster final and while raging hot favourites Dr. Crokes did manage eventually to scrape past Clare champs Cratloe by the minimum margin in that one, that match showed that you can’t really take anything for granted in this particular championship.

The scare that Crokes got from Cratloe will, one assumes, also help to dispel the growing aura of invincibility that seems to have been thrust on the Killarney club in recent weeks. ย The bookies still have them down as strong favourites for success on Paddy’s Day next year – they’re 11/10 favourites at the moment with Paddy Power – but they have drifted a little since the Munster final, while Ballinderry’s emergence from Ulster has seen their odds for the All-Ireland cut to just 4/1. (Latest odds here).

Pat Holmes and his Castlebar Mitchels colleagues will doubtless have taken note of how last Sunday’s Munster final played out and will surely be laying their plans for next February’s All-Ireland semi-final accordingly. Against Corofin and again in the Connacht final against St. Brigid’s, Castlebar made life very difficult for themselves by coughing up cheap first half goals and you get the sense – even more so after last Sunday – that if they can remedy this fairly obvious defect, then the craft, astuteness and cussed will-to-win that they’ve shown in spades so far on this campaign could well prove sufficient to carry them onwards to Croke Park in March.

The last of this year’s provincial club finals take place this coming Sunday down at O’Connor Park in Tullamore, where Dublin’s St. Vincents take on perennial Leinster competitors Portlaoise. The latter have been champions on their own patch since 2007 and they’re also the club that has won the most Leinster titles (they have seven, whereas Vincents have just four) but you have to go back a full thirty years for their sole All-Ireland success.

The Marino lads claimed national honours far more recently – winning their second All-Ireland club title in 2008 – and they’re warm favourites to advance on Sunday. This is partly, I’d say, due to the increasing dominance of Dublin sides at provincial level in recent years – where they’ve won four out of the last six Leinster titles – but also the doggedness shown by Vincents in those hard-fought wins over St. Loman’s and Summerhill on the way to the final. The return from suspension of bad boys Diarmuid Connolly and Ger Brennan won’t exactly harm their cause either and so it’s not just a lack of unbiased opinion on my part that has me leaning towards a Vinnies’ victory in this one.

27 thoughts on “Club championship business end beckons

  1. London clubs have given some good games to the Irish based teams over the years, i think it was Neasden Gaels who pushed Crossmagen all the way a few years ago. Not sure what Kingdom Kerry Gaels though.

    I think Pat Holmes and his team should sit down and watch last Feb semi final between Ballymun and Dr Crokes i don’t think Crokes have improved much since then.

  2. Nothing cheap about the first half goal Senan Kilbride got against Castlebar, we should have had another 2 aswell. What was cheap was the ref who handed Castlebar the game.

  3. Sour grapes, take ye,re beating, we had problems with duffy as well, ere in mayo for las few years and another couple of codures of referees too, theres not 1 referee i have confidence in any of them, i dont bother looking at the programme to see who,s reffing so does my heart go out to you and your aggrieved rossies, no because were bloody well used to be fu……. around here by referees down thru, the years…………..By the ways ye had an extra man for a lot of that game in normal time and simply did,t make it count at the end of the day or evening and its as simple as that ross..

  4. Should have, would have, could have but didn’t.
    Castlebar were the better team according to the scoreline and that’s all that counts in the end.
    On another note, dr crokes squeaked by Cratloe but let’s not forget that Cratloe team is heavily populated by the same Clare senior hurlers that won this years all Ireland and would be considered very fit and very tough opponents in any sport they choose.

  5. What was also cheap was the shoulder into Tom Kings back that deserved and got the red card. Also cheap was big fat Frankie Dolans assault on the match officals leaving the pitch afterwards. Big time Charlie.

  6. I guess Rossoneri this is not a good place if your looking for sympathy and blaming the ref will cut no ice in Mayo. That said your’e not the worst of them and I can understand your frustration, because as the current AI champions, would at the very least be expected to win out in the province. That said I hope you’ll now row in behind Castlebar, as we did with Bridget’s last year !!

  7. You guys are probably right, move on and all that. The article irked me – Senan Kilbrides goal was not cheap – just class. As were the movements which should have resulted in another 2 goals. As regards big fat Frankie, he aint big or fat no need for that, the point he scored which should have won the game for Brigids was worth the admission fee alone. Wonderfull player who will probably receive a 48 week ban which will call time on his playing contribution to Brigids. The shoulder charge on Tom King was daft but hardly warranted a red card, Kilbride was a player we could have done with in extra time.

  8. For balance, and to be fair, Barry Morans hit was also a cheap shot and deserved red too. On the day I thought it was a harsh call but seeing it again, as much as it pains me to admit it, Marty Duffy was correct.
    What always amazes me about Brigids is how the Roscommon inter county players in the side can be so influential and effective for Brigids but then look so ordinary when in a Roscommon geansai. Still, ye had a fair run at it and if Mitchels can be half as successful as ye were I think they will be happy.

  9. Have watched Senan Kilbride since he was a gasun, in full flow he is a joy to behold. Had good games with the county years ago, Between injuries and Brigids success has not had a decent crack at the county of late. He gave Tom Cunniffe a bit of a run around the last day.
    Prior to last years championship encounter with Mayo, I read some quotes from Karol Mannion in the Indo, basically he explained the pace and intensity of county football verses club football even at All Ireland stage is far higher. He goes on to say he was caught a number of times in possession of the ball, in a league game verses Cavan a couple of weeks after the Ballymun game. I knew then for sure we were proper fucked heading to McHale that day.

  10. In fairness all the last Connacht All Ireland winners Corofin,Ballina,Crossmolina,Caltra and Salthill failed to win their own county championship the year after winning their All Ireland.

    I can understand the rossie frustration Duffy was truly woeful can you imagine that man with the black card next year?

  11. Don’t mean to call you out but i have seen this written a few times about Cratloe now, Hurling is different sport Clare are damn good at it while Clare footballers are in div 4 for reason. If Dr Crokes are good as they are meant to be they should be beating Clare sides pulling up but for the last three years they haven’t because they are overrated.

    For the record Cratloe had 6 Clare Hurlers and i think only three of them were starters for Clare (Collins,McGrath,Ryan) if anything they must be wrecked after a long season.

  12. MO2013 might do well to ignore county standings as Clare club football is not all that bad, 2 Munster titles in the last 6 years from my recollection, not to shabby. Better than Mayo and probably form a stronger province. Some very strong clubs can come from counties with weak teams at inter-county level, and vice versa.

  13. Suck it up boy. Learn to take your beating. Maybe the same message should go to Frankie Dolan as well, great to see him getting his comeuppance at long last. 48 weeks not one day too long for him, he has been looking for that for years. Conned the ref in ’01 Connacht Final to get Ray Connelly sent off, something I’ve never forgotten

  14. I know that very well Makluse, for example years ago Eire Og of Carlow would be a prime example, Kilmurry Ibrickane won a Munster title in 2009 but to be honest since Nemo rangers fell away the Munster championship hasn’t been as strong as it use to be only a few years ago UCC reached the final.

    Leinster,Ulster have many club sides that are capable of winning the All Ireland in Connacht you have Corofin,Brigids,Castlebar while i think only Dr Crokes are probably good enough in Munster.

  15. Hi All,
    Apologies to post a comment but I just wanted to say that I wish St.Vincents all the very best in the year that Heffo passed away. Looking forward to the league and meeting all the good people of Mayo again, take care.

    Kind Regards,
    Martin the Dub

  16. Good man , Young Fella,
    No harm to leave it to the young lads , you saved me the bother of writing.
    My thoughts exactly.

  17. Rip Heffo. Hopefully it’ll be a Dublin club in the final and a mayo club too,
    Does Connolly play for Vincent’s, the lad that was into the boxing?

  18. I know the 4th offical that Frankie assaulted and you couldn’t meet a nicer lad, genuinely. He is an up and coming young ref and a big fit lad who is well used to the rough and tumble of GAA. He put Eamon O’Hara in his box in a club match last year so he is no shrinking violet. I wont say too much here while the case is pending but when Frankie says that he “thought someone bumped into him” and that the incident is “nothing worth talking about”, it is fair to say that he is being creative with the truth ๐Ÿ™‚
    Put it this way, Marty Duffy has his 4th offical to thank for taking the brunt of Frankies frustration.

  19. You’re right Pebblesmeller not to say too much while the case in pending – all the reports I’ve read in the papers about the incident refer to an “alleged” assault on the fourth official. The 48-week ban has been formally proposed for the incident but Brigid’s – as is their right – have decided to contest it so it’s as well to say no more about it at this stage. Also, and regardless of what really did happen in this instance, I’d cut Frankie a bit of slack generally – he’s given a significant part of his life to playing the game and does, I think, deserve a bit more respect (even if he is a Rossie – apologies, Rossoneri!).

    While we’re on the topic of apologies, you never need to apologetic, Martin the Dub, for posting a comment here. You showed you were a gentleman prior to and following the All-Ireland final this year in the comments you posted then and you’re always welcome to chip in whenever you want. There’s great excitement in the locality here, by the way, about Sunday’s Leinster final and there’s a fleet of buses heading down on the day so Tullamore is likely to be an extension of Marino then.

  20. On a different matter folks…Willie Joe permitting, I want to let people know that St Peters GAA club Dunboyne Co Meath are hosting Liam Horan and John Corless with their Half Solid production of their comedy show “The Pull”. Throw in is tomorrow evening at 8 pm (Saturday 7th December) at the club house on the Rooske Road. If you have nothing to do and want to enjoy a good laugh tickets are Euro 15 and a few are available at the door on the night.

  21. Cant believe some of the stuff I have read over last few posts , why do you all even bother ? , everyone knows the intermediate club football championship is where all the action is this year ๐Ÿ˜‰

  22. Good luck with it John and give my regards to Liam and John tomorrow night. As you know, we hosted it in Vincent’s this time last year and it’s a great show.

  23. Right on Roger, one match from Croker for the proud erris men,

    It’s great to have something to look forward to already in 2014! And the season ticket is on the way so all set for the coming year.

  24. I remember attending a AI semi final in Longford or Athlone between Crossmolina and a club from Dublin’s northside a few years ago. I will always remember the fleet of busses full of supporters from the Dublin club. Outnumbering the Crossmolina people who were well supported on the day. Portlaois prepare for the invasion this weekend.

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