LAST season they were described as Brophy’s babes but I think this time around the babes bit could be confined to the dust bin, writes Tommy Callaghan.
Yes, county champions of 2011, Athy, put their title on the line once again this Saturday when they take on Carbury, in St Conleth’s Park, against the side they defeated by four points in last season’s MDY SFC decider.
It was two early goals that set up that win for Athy, brilliantly executed if you were an Athy supporter, or poorly defended if you wore the Carbury colours but regardless it was the difference between the teams on that memorable day for ‘The Town.’
The champs opened their campaign this time around with Moorefield inflicted a defeat in the first round of the championship. It was, in retrospect, probably the best think that could have happened to them.
Granted they were short a few of their summer based US players but it sent them an early message that if there was any complacency in the team they would find themselves out of the competition a lot earlier than they would have expected.
They regrouped and came back to record wins of Allenwood, drew with Clane before getting the better of them in a cracking replay to set up a quarter final place with Moorefield which they won, not all that convincing but won nevertheless.
If there is one difference between the side from last season and the side we have seen to date this season it is the fact that while the boys in red have been creating chances they are not putting away as many of these chances as they did in 2011.
They are also not getting those magnificent long range points that was part and parcel of their game 12 months ago but having said that they are coming to the boil at the right time; know what to expect from Saturday’s opposition and overall will be delighted to find themselves just one game away from another final.
Carbury it has to be said have reached the last four without much fuss; without much bother and are looking, if anything, sharper this time around.
They sent out an early signal that their aim was to get back into the final for the second season in a row when handing out St. Laurence’s a decent beating in the opening round in a game played at Hawkfield.
They were not overly impressive and in fact were put to their pin of their collars to get over Ballymore Eustace in Round 2 but get over them they did and set up a quarter final spot against surprise packets, Confey.
One thing Carbury have shown again this season is the class footballer that Eoghan O’Flaherty is and what he brings to this team is immense and indeed critical.
He is the one who pulls the strings. He is the one who conducts the orchestra. He is the one who, if Carbury are to take out the county champions, will be the scorer-in-chief.
So if Athy can stop O’Flaherty (Eoghan) they will be well on the road to another county decider.
That, of course, is not to say that Carbury is a one man team. Far from it but O’Flaherty is absolutely paramount to their cause; he is showing excellent form and is probably, along with Ray Cahill of Sarsfields, the most consistent player in the championship to date.
Having said that Carbury did not have it all their own way against Confey in the quarter final. In fact they were four points adrift after six or seven minutes yet went in at the break leading by a clear five points quickly moving to seven on the resumption.
Maybe the fact that they didn’t kick on would be of some concern to the back room people and while it took a brilliant save by keeper, Noel Kenna, to deny Confey an equalising goal close to the end, nevertheless Carbury were full value for their three point win and set up a return date with Athy.
And while eyes will be on the Eoghan and Morgan O’Flaherty, along with the experienced Terry Rossiter, there is another O’Flaherty who is making waves this season. Brian, scored two fine points against Confey and overall has been doing very well this season.
Andrew Dermody was not as prominent against Confey as one would have expected but he remains a deadly dangerous forward as he showed throughout last season.
Carbury will need no motivation for this one, a defeat at the hands of Athy last term is motivation enough but whether they can reverse the tables this time around remains doubtful.
Athy look the better balanced side; look to have much more options both within their starting XV and probably more important their bench.
Kevin Feely is playing out of his skin at the minute and while he has a busy schedule with his soccer commitments with Bohemians he still remains a really exciting GAA player whether on the ‘40’ or when moved to the middle.
Brian Kinahan is commanding his square with confidence while Mick Foley is as steady as one would expect of an All Star.
Tony Gibbons had a mighty game against Moorefield as did Niall Kelly when moved out to the half forward line while James Eaton may not be scoring as frequently as last term, nevertheless he is a vital cog in the machine.
Darroch Mulhall who did not start either of the last two games but came in and made an impression while Cian Reynolds is gradually getting back to fitness following an ankle injury.
Another excellent game to look forward to but it is difficult to see anything other than another Athy victory.