DROGHEDA is the venue for the 2012 AIB Leinster Intermediate Club Cham-pionship final. Kildare’s Monasterevan will take on Louth side O’Connell’s. Just 60 minutes of football will decide the destination of the trophy. Will it head down the N7 or up the M1 to Castlebellingham. Only time will tell, writes Ruth Chambers.
O’Connell’s story is similar to that of Monasterevan. They had a good Division 1 campaign and are indeed waiting to take on Louth senior champions St Patrick’s in the final, they beat Clan na Gael in the IFC final, while their minors also made it to a county final.
In Leinster the Louth men enjoyed home advantage at the semi final stage, while the travelled for the quarter final. Like Monasterevan they received a bye in to the quarter final where they met the Laois champs Emo. Their minor star Cian Doyle and Robert Quigley shone in their 2-13 to 0-12 in O’Moore Park in Portlaoise. The youthful due ran Emo’s defence ragged and O’Connell’s were full value for their seven point victory, an impressive one away from home no less.
That win set them up for a last four meeting with Meath champions Na Fianna at home in Castlebellingham. In a right ding dong battle the Louth men came out on top by the minimum.
A last gasp point from former county man Mark Stanfield guaranteed O’Connell’s a place in the decider against Monasterevan. Indeed Stan-ford received his marching orders from Kildare referee Brendan Cawley very soon after, however it was only a second yellow card and he will be available for Sunday’s final in Drogheda.
In that semi final O’Connell’s burst from the traps like men possessed and looked to be home and hosed early on.
At one point they held an eight point lead but their Meath opponents turned it round to
lead by two early in the second half. However at the death O’Connell’s turned it around, something which has been a feature of their game all year.
O’Connell’s have been the perennial bridesmaids of the Louth Intermediate Football Championship, until this year that is. A dominant first half performances against Dundalk side Clan na Gael did the trick in the final despite a late comeback from their opponents, as they prevailed on a 0-9 to 1-4 scoreline.
“O’Connell’s are a team that like to fly out of the traps and build up a lead,” said David Lynch, the Dundalk Democrat’s GAA correspondent.
“However, they regularly seem to fade or take their foot off the pedal and let teams back in to games. So far they have got away with it and they are very difficult to beat,” he added.
O’Connell’s, managed by Wayne McKeever, currently have no representatives on the Louth senior team, although Mark Stanfield has been involved in the past. The aforementioned Craig Doyle and Robert Quigley are their biggest assets. Indeed Doyle is viewed as the great white hope of Louth football and will certainly have to be watched carefully this Sunday.
The Louth team seem to have plenty of credentials but so too do Monasterevan, who seem to be getting better as the year progresses.
Offaly man Pascal Kellaghan has transformed them from nearly men in to the real deal in 2012 and winning a provincial title would be the proverbial icing on the cake for them.
After a poor IFC final, where they got the better of Raheens, Monasterevan came up against the Carlow champions in the quarter final of the Leinster Club Championship at Dr Cullen Park. This was a mis-match if ever there was one. The final score was 2-9 to 0-3 in favour of the Kildare team, with Jimmy Gorry and Gavin Holligan grabbing the goals.
The Leinster semi final threw up an altogether tougher encounter for the Blues with Cuala of Dublin coming to Newbridge. Any team the comes out of the capital as champions are going to be tough and that’s what Monasterevan expected. It didn’t really turn out as expected though.
Kellaghan’s side didn’t have things as easy as they did against the Carlow champions but nonetheless they prevailed with relative ease.
Seven points was the winning margin in a game where young gun Wayne Fitzpatrick was in top form. He kicked some sublime points, while Monasterevan’s half back line was also in inspiring form, as it has been all year.
Travelling to Drogheda for the final makes things slightly tougher on Monasterevan but the bookies can’t separate the teams with one layer offering even money on both and 13/2 for the draw.
If Monasterevan play as they did against Cuala then any team at this grade would struggle to beat them.