St Pats Senior Football Manager Casey O Brien Previews Wicklow Senior Football Championship Semi Finals

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Tinahely v Avondale

Massive game for both clubs. Tinahely’s first semi final since 1987 and Avondale’s 3rd semi in 4 years.
Can Avondale overcome the semi final nerves or are the good times heading back to 1984 champions Tinahely.

Avondale
Avondale have vast experience now and in Conor Byrne they have a big match winner and he will have to be closely watched from a Tinahely point of view. 
The McGraynors are big players and like Byrne they will be key to an Avondale win. Eoin Baker and Saoirse Kieran are very strong players and will be interesting to see where both may be playing. Avondale have banged in the goals but the question still looms as to have they been tested yet.

Tinahely
Tinahely on the other hand are battle hardened in this campaign. They had a mighty tussle with county champions Pats in the 1/4 final after extra time along with a tight game v Bray and a surprising loss early on v Kiltegan after extra time. Tinahely have lots of young talent and have the forwards in Alan Dillon, Eoin Darcy and the impressive Matthew Ging.
They have raw strength in Hogan and Dillon around the middle with Eoghan Byrne and Crouch.
Paddy O Rourke and Cillian McDonald have good engines so they have a balanced team but the man that stands out is Rory Stokes who is a powerhouse, both strong and skilful.

Key Matchups
I think Eoin Baker v Rory Stokes is something that if supporters were allowed in would be worth watching. Both Alan Costello and David Burke have done great jobs and will relish a go in the county final.

Prediction
My prediction is too tight to call and I think it may well be a draw with maybe Tinahely shading it in extra time.

AGB V BALTINGLASS

Another tough call here.
Agb
AGB had very good wins v Bray and Rathnew in what has to be said were terrible conditions. They have been making steady progress winning the intermediate, reaching 1/4 finals, semi finals and county final last year so just maybe they are ready to be crowned champions. They play a lovely brand of football and have fine players in Andy and Tom Maher with Andy revelling in his new midfield role,

Daragh Fitzgerald, Stephen and JP Hurley and dangerous forwards in Chris O Brien, Kelleher and O Shea. They also have the experience of Ciaran Hyland and Philip Healy to call upon or start.

Baltinglass
Baltinglass have looked very steady in the campaign so far. John McGrath is still a huge player for Balto and will be interesting to see who is given the job to police him. Dan Kelly, Johnny Keogh and Heaslip also know where the posts are and Peader Burke can cause problems. Adam McHugh is another who has huge potential and will take watching if starting. Mikey English is looking fit and getting through a lot of work. The Burke brothers are excellent wing backs and have a few great leaders in Billy Cullen, Kevin Murphy and Mark Jackson.
A lot of Balto players have senior medals tucked away the last being  in 2016. They will feel with Pats and Rathnew gone that they have a huge opportunity to add to their previous crowns and have the tradition behind them.
Pressure is on AGB to deliver now and are people’s favourites to win it out.

Prediction
Tough outcome to predict. Interestingly the last county final without the big 3 of Rathnew, Balto and Pats not participating in county final day was 36 years ago when Tinahely beat Valleymount.
Will that trend continue with a Baltinglass win. If it’s a good day I think that AGB just might have the football to change that and get back to try and avenge last years defeat in county final.
AGB by 3

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