Friday, October 14, 2022

With the senior final just over the horizon, the talk at the moment is all about Boyle and Strokestown – but last weekend was also a momentous one for the footballers of St. Ronan’s, Pádraig Pearses, Éire Óg and St. Dominic’s, as those four clubs made their way through to county finals in a fortnight’s time.

Earlier this week we picked our senior stars, and now it’s time to pick a Intermediate and Junior Team of the week, the second last of the year…..

Goalkeeper: Joe Fallon (Fuerty)

Certainly could do nothing about Darren Donnelly’s immaculate penalty, and not long after came up with a wonderful save to deny the same player what would have been a decisive goal. His kickouts were also a real weapon for Fuerty, fired long and accurately into the St. Dominic’s half of the pitch.

Right Corner-Back: Micheál Byrne (St. Dominic’s)

On a day when some of Dt. Dominic’s star men up front failed to fire, they never allowed a potent Fuerty attacking unit to get any momentum going, and no single player was better in this regard than Byrne. He’s the perfect corner back – looks after his own business, stays on top of his core job and makes sure to protect possession when he does secure a turnover.

Full-Back: Enda Flynn (St. Ronan’s)

A wonderful curling shot to crown St. Ronan’s early dominance in their contest with Ballinameen showed the natural class and skill that their full back possesses, but he also anchored a back division that did a superb job, restricting Ballinameen to just four points over the course of the first 50 minutes and change of their local derby semi-final.

Left Corner-Back: Joseph Hester (Éire Óg)

An unlikely Player of the Match but still a worthy winner after Hester put in a very strong performance that featured excellent, disciplined, defensive play from start to finish. His athleticism and conditioning gives him the tools to consistently stay sharp over the hour, and his decision making in the tackle was superb as well.

Right Half-Back: Philip Neilan (Fuerty)

We can sum up Fuerty’s problems last Saturday by saying that their wing back was by far their leading attacking threat. Neilan bombed over three excellent points and always looked like he might cut open the St. Dominic’s defence when he gathered a head of steam.

Eddie Noone (left) and Ronan Kelly celebrate St. Ronan’s victory against St. Barry’s.

Centre-Back: Eddie Noone (St. Ronan’s)  

We spoke last week about how Stephen Sheeran has built his team around a really good half-back line, and with Noone as their anchor, they were exceptional again in Croghan last Sunday. His superb burst and finish for St. Ronan’s second goal will no doubt be replayed over and over, but throughout the hour he was exceptional.

Left Half-Back: Ross Timothy (St. Croan’s)  

Our main positional liberty in this team is taking the former Roscommon intercounty man and moving him from 6 to 7, knowing that he would do a very good job in either of these roles. There wasn’t a lot to call between Timothy and Noone for the centre back slot, as Timothy was very strong on the ball and managed his team’s defensive shape really well, all while paired up against a in-form opponent in Liam Creaton.

Midfield: Enda Crawley (Éire Óg)  

There’s a touch of the vintage tractor about Crawley, who has developed a habit of starting slowly and playing his way into games. The engine needs a while to warm up, but once he gets going, he’ll motor all day. His decision to take a black card in stoppage time might have backfired badly however, had Dan Malone opted to chip his late attacking mark over the bar. He’ll have a huge role to play in the county final, most likely up against Paddy Fallon.

Midfield: Richard Thompson (St. Croan’s)

Thompson is immensely popular in the St. Croan’s club, and it’s easy to see why, as his willingness to dig deeper as things get tougher seems limitless. He came up with an array of great catches against Éire Óg, and was the key man behind St. Croan’s dominance of the middle third of the field. A shout here too for Conor Ryan of Pádraig Pearses, who put in yet another really good showing.

Right Half-Forward: Seán Canning (Pádraig Pearses)

We have a hunch that Canning is likely to catch the headlines next weekend in the senior hurling final, but Pearses manager Enda Curran will just want to see his teenage star come through their battle with Four Roads intact. Alongside Richard Browne on the other wing, Canning is a game breaker that can create and finish vital scores.

Centre-Forward: Andrew Jordan (Strokestown)   

John Rogers has to be thinking long and hard about the possibility of finding a role for this young player in Sunday week’s senior final. He has pulled the strings for Strokestown’s juniors all year long, and in the closing stages of a senior final when some legs are tiring, he’s the type of player who could craft a really crucial score or two.

Left Half-Forward: Cian Kelly (St. Dominic’s)

Kelly hadn’t nailed down a starting place in Tomás Gilleran’s team all year long, but his showing against Fuerty is almost certain to guarantee his selection for the county final. He’s a wrecking ball at wing forward, able to drive past defenders and create overlaps. His point was well-taken, though arguably there was more there for the team if he looked up to see players available, but that sort of composure will come with time. For now, he adds serious energy, power and pace to the side.

Right Corner-Forward: Darren Donnelly (St. Dominic’s)

Just one point from play perhaps, but Donnelly was still the leading attacking threat, while there was plenty of pressure on for his penalty, and his finish was as good as you’ll ever see, rifled into the top corner and out of reach of the keeper. He’s added a bit more roundedness to his game this year too, showing for a lot more early balls as opposed to looking to collect the second ball all the time.

Full-Forward: John Keavney (St. Ronan’s)

A third St. Ronan’s selection, all along the spine of the team, reflecting their comprehensive win on a weekend when the other three semi-final winners all advanced by either a single goal, or a single point. Keavney did what he always does, very effectively – leading the line, converting his dead ball chances, and bringing others into the game around him.

Left Corner-Forward: Adam McGreal (Pádraig Pearses)

He has one county medal already at U-20, and is doing everything in his power to make sure he gets a second. His sharp movement and clever lines of running yielded 1-3, 1-2 from play, in a game against Strokestown were scores were extremely hard got.

*Compiled by Kevin Egan


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