Clare U-21B Football Final Preview: Kildysart v Wolfe Tones
You would be excused for thinking you have a case of déjà-vu with this one as the rivals square off for a third time in 12 months at this stage of the championship.
It took a replay to separate them last year after a fiery draw on the first day out which saw Kildysart’s key man, Emmet McMahon, red-carded which ruled him out the replay. It would prove to be a fatal blow as the Shannon men swept to victory by 5-7 to 1-13.
Kildysart have mixed the tough with the flair en route to this decider, as they edged past neighbours Clondegad by the minimum before easing past the Banner in their last four tie. They have been scoring well, notching 0-18 against Clondegad before putting up 0-14 against the Banner in a game played in difficult conditions at the start of the month.
The long layoff between games will be a concern for Kildysart with their semi final win coming on November 2 which will be almost a full month ago when the ball is thrown in this weekend. It is more about the anomaly in the championship structure than anything else, but it will have been a difficult period to manage.
There are no such concerns in that regard for Wolfe Tones with their semi-final win over Miltown coming last weekend, but the flip side of that is they will be focused mainly on recovery this week. It took a huge effort to get over the line in a heavy pitch, so the challenge of putting performances back to back will be the main one for them. Pulling results out of the fire has been a chief element for Wolfe Tones in this championship, as they also produced a late rally to overcome neighbours Cratloe by 0-13 to 2-6 in the opening round.
If Wolfe Tones are to retain their title, they cannot afford to allow Kildysart a head start. A potent forward line will punish any signs of weakness with the likes of Seamus Casey and Diarmuid O’Donnell waiting to pounce. The midfield battle is also going to be crucial and who Wolfe Tones detail to try and curb Emmet McMahon will be a key decision. Jayme O’Sullivan would look best placed for that role while Daniel Riordan could be another option for that role. Wolfe Tones have plenty danger men too with Dean Devanney, Cian O’Rourke and Darragh Lohan the chief dangers for Kildysart to curb.
It is an interesting dynamic to see how Kildysart will have been affected by the long layoff while the question for Wolfe Tones will be how much energy is left after that battle last weekend. The upper hand in terms of match sharpness will lie with the Shannon men while Kildysart will come into the game much the fresher side. A lot will depend on how each defence gets on top and it could well be that another day out is needed to decide this one.
Having missed out on last year’s replay, Emmet McMahon could be the key man here. He has been in brilliant form so far and if that continues, along with O’Donnell and Casey, then Kildysart should just edge another tight battle.