I'm going for Tubber and Tourlestrane to reach the County final
Final places are up for grabs next weekend in the Belfry senior football championship. First up it is Tubbercurry against St Molaise Gaels on Saturday evening with the big one taking place in Tubbercurry on Sunday between rivals Tourlestrane and Curry.
Looking at the first semi-final, Tubbercurry are favourites to reach their first county final since 2008 when they play surprise packets St Molaise Gaels. If Tubbercurry reach the final they will have done so without playing any team outside their group such was the luck of the draw for the knockout stages of the competition.
This is a huge opportunity for both clubs and having seen each perform I would expect it to be a tight affair. I was very impressed when watching Tubbercurry in the group stages by defeating St. Johns particularly their accuracy in front of goal. With David Kelly operating and controlling affairs at centre forward Tubber look the likely winners of this one.
They have good players in the key positions and work the ball from defence to the scoring zone very well. In Brian Curran they have a very flexible player that can be utilised during a game in a number of positions to suit the circumstances. When looking at all the contenders prior to this year's championship I mentioned Tubbercurry could have potential to make an impact on this year's championship depending on what Tubbercurry team turned up.
When you look at their results in the championship over the last number of years they have taken great scalps and then lost games that they should have been winning.
There is no doubt Willie Gormally in his first season has got the correct response and if they were to get over this one they will not fear whichever near neighbour comes through on the other side of the draw. Having witnessed St Molaise Gaels impressive win over St. Marys in the quarter final Tubbercurry definitely won't have it all their own way.
The North Sligo side showed last time out they have the capacity to win this game with an excellent work ethic. They retain the ball very well in possession and break at pace from the back to set up the counter attacks. My main concern for them is the lack of an out and out scoring forward as they missed many opportunities created against St. Marys. Having said all that, this game will be evenly balanced as the match ups pits strength v strength and weakness v weakness. What I mean by that is I would consider Tubbercurry forward line as their main strength v the defence of Molaise Gaels which is theirs. Likewise I would consider Tubbercurry defence and Molaise forward line as their weaknesses.
So all in all it could come down to the battle of the county players at midfield in Mark Quinn and Stephen Gilmartin (pictured). Both players are playing well with Gilmartin well able to drift into scoring positions in addition to his ball winning abilities against what I consider is Mark Quinn's strength, the number of possession's that he gets in a game and the way he orchestrates their game plan. I'm going to call this one in favour of Tubbercurry as I feel they have the more experience in their side.
In the big one on Sunday pre-championship favourites Tourlestrane are pitted for the second year in a row against Curry.
Historically over the last number of years these games are decided by the minimum of margins and this year won't be any different. Curry without a number of key players during the group stages progressed easily and now have a stronger team to choose with the return of the likes of Adrian Marren. The player that need to be watched from a Tourlestrane point of view is the player that inflicted the most damage to them last year Brian McDonagh.
While Maye and Marren got the big scores it was McDonagh in the big games that came to the front. On paper Tourlestrane have the stronger panel of players but with an intense rivalry raging between these sides that all goes out the window on days like this.
Tourlestrane at times have played some outstanding football this year most notably in the first half's of the league final against St. Johns and the two clashes with Coolera/Strandhill. What will be of concern to Eamonn Harran is the way they let teams back into the game when they should have been half way home. Having said that they have survived these onslaughts which shows the experience and character they have in their squad.
These games are normally low scoring affairs and I feel overall that Tourlestrane will have more of an advantage over the Curry backline than vice versa and with that I'm calling it as a Tourlestrane/Tubbercurry county final.