In the first round of this year’s senior ladies’ football championship, Clann na nGael beat Shannon Gaels by a goal. Since then, both Clann and Kilbride have won every competitive game they’ve played by a minimum of eight points.
By Kevin Egan
Next Saturday’s final in Kiltoom (throw-in is at 4.45 p.m.) is the final that everyone expected, and in a championship where 11 of the last 12 games played (involving all clubs) have been decided by six points or more, it’s a game where opinions are likely to be split right down the middle.
Their records might be similar, but in terms of profile, the differences between the teams are significant. Kilbride have a huge advantage in terms of experience, as these same players have been at the heart of almost all of their success.
In fact, 12 of the 15 players who started their semi-final win over Éire Óg/Michael Glaveys also started the 2013 intermediate county final, which is an incredible level of player retention across six years.
Clann, in contrast, are constantly evolving. Every year they seem to introduce at least four or five new panellists, and if we go back one year further to the 2012 county IFC decider featuring Clann, just four players from that starting team also started this year’s semi-final win over Shannon Gaels.
There are other areas where the teams are on the opposite ends of the scale. Kilbride have that star quality, Clann’s strength is their balance and depth. Clann are more of a goalscoring team (scoring one goal for every 2.7 points registered) while Kilbride are much more normal at around one goal for every five points scored.
Most significantly, Clann are clearly getting better with each passing year, and the evidence would suggest that Kilbride are struggling to maintain their own very high standards. In 2017, they gave Carnacon a really tough test in their Connacht championship clash played at home, but they fell away badly against the same opponents last year.
Their round robin defeat to Clann in the league was forgivable, but they should have been able to read the tea leaves and realise that they needed to turn the tables in the final in order to reassert their dominance.
They couldn’t do it, and they’ll face a far more confident opponent as a result. That could prove crucial.
Herald Verdict: Clann na nGael