SFC Final Baltinglass V Tinahely
When Tinahely lost the first round of the SFC back in July in Baltinglass, few would have predicted that they would be now one step away from winning the Miley Cup, 36 years after their last victory in 1984.
Baltinglass on the other hand have won all their games, scored first, led at half time and at the finish.
They have been very consistent and have built momentum in all their games, producing their best display in the semi final against a fancied AGB side, who came with a late surge in the final few minutes,but Balto were throughly deserving winners.
Tinahely have shown remarkable resilience since their opening round defeat and took a huge scalp of county champions St Patrick’s in the quarter final.
The backed that up with another dramatic victory over a talented Avondale outfit in the semi final, winning out in sensational fashion, on a penalty shoot out.
The final has the makings of a great game, with many talented footballers on both sides, both young and old.
Many young Tinahely players have came through the county underage ranks, and they will be looking to Eoin Darcy and Matt Ging to provide the scoring threat up front. The cultured left boot of both Alan Dillon and Rory Stokes, will be instrumental in providing quality ball into their inside men and also additional scoring power with their long range shooting.
They will be competitive in the middle but have a big task on their hands against the in form Mikey English who has been well supported by former county minor Sean Doody.
Shane Hogan has marshalled the defence well and attacks at every opportunity.
Baltinglass have great tradition behind them and have been in many finals and that guile should stand to them against an emerging Tinahely outfit.
Mark Jackson is a superb keeper and his technical ability on the restarts and accuracy from placed balls is a massive weapon to have in the locker.
Their defence is solid with captain Kevin Murphy and Billy Cullen occupying the pivotal positions. Midfield is strong and capable of providing a lot of primary ball to their talented forwards.
They have a hard working and mobile half forward line who are capable of chipping in with crucial scores.
John McGrath has been playing great stuff all year and Adam McHugh has provided an additional threat and support inside. Daniel Kelly’s high work rate is also a big plus and always good for a score.
This should be a fascinating contest between two really good footballing sides.
Tinahely I would imagine will be defensive early on and want to stay in the game as much as possible while Balto with their high tempo game will look to impose themselves on the game with patience and control.
Both Management teams have prepared their teams exceptionally well, given the short window for the county championship.
Both sets of players will be hungry for success, Baltinglass last win in 2016 against St Pats and Tinahely last win 36 years ago against Valleymount.
Match ups will also be critical in this game as their are so many match winners on both sides, whose influence will have to be curbed.
It will be interesting to see what tactics and markers are deployed by Brian Heaslip and Alan Costello, with so much at stake.
As I alluded to earlier, Tinahely are an emerging force with so many talented players at their disposal and this is a big challenge to take on a Baltinglass side who have showed remarkable consistency throughout the campaign.
It will be a tight affair and if Tinahely are in the game entering the last quarter,they will be very dangerous with so many strike runners and scorers at their disposal.
However, Baltinglass have great tradition and experience behind them and if they can deliver the same level of performance as previously displayed, they will take stopping.
Game Management and decision making on or off the ball, has become a crucial factor now in achieving results and club games have moved to a new level in that department.
We are living in strange times and with the COVID Protocols in place, it’s a pity that many loyal patrons can not attend the game, as I am sure it would draw a bumper crowd and the atmosphere would be brilliant.
However, we are fortunate that Garden County Sport has streamed most of the games live which has been brilliant for die hard GAA fans.
They will be glued to their Lap tops and mobile devices for this eagerly anticipated contest.
There will be little between the sides but Baltinglass experience should play a key role and deliver their 23rd Title back to the Town.