TINAHELY V BALTINGLASS
A final that captures the imagination, old foes go to battle as Baltinglass and Tinahely will face off with senior championship glory on the line. Tinahely sent shockwaves across the county in their defeat of St Pats in the quarter finals, whilst Baltinglass proved they are more than worth their salt in their elimination of last years finalists AGB.
Following a few years away from the title scene, Baltinglass have returned to form and will be wanting to carry that all the way to a Miley. Balto bring a fantastic mix of youth and experience into their squad. The ever reliable John McGrath will be hard contained by the tinahely defence, and will no doubt have a big impact on the game. Fellow forward Johnny Keogh brings serious pedigree to the side as has been shown in this championship campaign as well as in his underage inter county days. Dan Kelly is a match winner in his own right, and the Burke twins help to provide balance to Baltinglass’ game management. A physical and pacey side, Baltinglass will have no fear coming into this game and will be hoping to uphold their position as the bookies favourites.
The importance of this game can not be understated not only for the club but for the town and local community as a whole. The team haven’t been on this stage in nearly 4 decades and it’s brought an immense sense of pride to the village. The influx of youth into the senior fold has been on the tongues of many in the county since our Under 20s championship victory this past winter. Bradley Hickey, Matthew Ging and Cillian McDonald have come into the team injecting much in the way of pace, precision and balance. Baltinglass always bring physicality to the field, and the likes of Shane Hogan, Willie Dillon and Brian Walsh will aim to match them blow for blow. If Tinahely can exploit the pace and sharpness in their ranks from Paddy O’Rourke and Eoin D’Arcy they’ll cause many a problem for the Baltinglass back line. Alan Dillon has been a star performer for the club this year and has well and truly stepped up to the mark, hitting big scores at crucial times. Overall a very young team but with footballing intelligence well beyond their years.
Mick Byrne and Conor Hatton will be in for a handful this weekend coming up against John McGrath and Adam McHugh. McHugh starred in the semi final against AGB and has shown he’s well able to keep the scoreboard ticking over. The tinahely duo, though, did an excellent job containing the Avondale forwards in the previous round. Expect fireworks when these 4 come head to head.
Overall, we can expect a fast paced, physical game that’ll be a joy to watch for football purists. I’ll go out on a limb and say this game will be decided in normal time. Based on momentum I’ll go for a 2 point win for Tinahely to bring Miley home for the first time since ‘84.