Clare IFC Football Final Preview: Kildysart v St Breckan’s
The decision to cull five teams from the Clare senior football championship in 2018 was as much about strengthening the intermediate ranks as it was about distilling the competition in the top tier.
The last of those teams to fall through the trapdoor was St Breckan’s and on Saturday they will face a Kildysart team who just fell short in their bid for promotion 12 months ago. The expansion of the championship to a 12 team format has led to a noticeable increase in the quality of games and both these sides have been impressive in their run to this weekend’s showdown.
It has already been a successful year for Kildysart as they gained promotion from the Garry Cup and are now into a third championship decider in the last four seasons. They came through their group campaign with relative ease as they rallied to share the spoils with Doora Barefield before a comprehensive win over Naomh Eoin saw them into the last eight. It was another straightforward assignment for them there as they avenged their 2016 final loss to Kilfenora, before putting in an impressive display over neighbours Shannon Gaels to make it successive final appearances.
St Breckan’s have been equally impressive under new manager Donie Garrihy as they won both their group games with something to spare before doing likewise when they met O’Curry’s in the quarter-final. They produced arguably their best display of the year to date as they racked up 2-14 against Doora Barefield to move one step closer to immediate redemption.
If recent form is to be maintained in Saturday’s final, then this has all the makings of a high scoring and entertaining encounter. Both sides have been putting up big scores along the way with each team finding the net at least once during each of their four games so far. St Breckan’s just shade the scoring stats with a tally of 7-52 to date while Kildysart have racked up 8-45 en route to the final.
There will be a wealth of scoring talent on show with Kildysart looking to marry the pace of Seamus Casey and Diarmuid O’Donnell with the power of Neil and Keith O’Connor. They hold an obvious ace in the form of Emmet McMahon who has been in sparkling form this year, and it remains to be seen where they will opt to use him. It is likely he will be working around the middle third and expect him to shoot from distance.
St Breckan’s have one of the liveliest forward lines in the county with Aidan Davidson, Rowan Danaher and Colm O’Brien creating the space for Joe McGann and Pauric Kelly to do the damage. Liam Tierney and Dale Masterson provide a solid midfield pairing while Alan Sweeney is the locknut for a balanced defence.
The fact that this game is being played in Cusack Park might just slightly tip the balance in favour of the North Clare men. The pace of their front six will be suited by the open spaces and it is something the Kildysart defence might find difficult to handle. The potential clash of McMahon and Masterson at midfield is one to look forward to and whoever comes out on top will go a long way in helping their team over the line. Kildysart have plenty danger men up front, and match ups will be vital. Jack Sheedy looks like an obvious option to pick up Casey while the battle of the O’Connor’s vs Evan Barrett and Alan Sweeney will be fascinating.
It should be game that draws a big crowd to Cusack Park and has the makings of an excellent contest. On the balance of play, the favourite tag has to lie with St Breckan’s to make an immediate return to the top tier.
Verdict: St Breckan’s