Sunday 22 April 2018

McGinn fit and ready as final countdown begins

IF Newtown Blues have some unfinished business to tend to after their 2011 final defeat, Hugh McGinn is as relieved as anyone that another crack at Joe Ward has materialised so soon.

He only came on as a sub in the drawn game with Pats that season, and by his own admission wasn't 100% in either game. And McGinn's 2013 form would suggest that had he been back and firing on all cylinders on day one, Pats might never have earned a second chance.

With 3-21 to his name this term, he is eight points clear of Brian White in the Hotshots charts heading into Sunday's showdown, and while the 'golden boot' competition is unlikely to register very highly on his agenda this week, it's another indication of how important McGinn is to the Blues cause.

He added 1-3 to his impressive Championship tally against Pats last Friday night, but was quick to stress afterwards that the Blues have won nothing yet.

'There's nothing won yet, although that felt like a win!' he said. 'They're such a solid team and we struggled at times even after they went a man down. They're very strong around the middle, and coming into it they had beaten us twice in replays over the past few years, so it was just great to win it.

'They started to play ball when we went four points up; it seemed to rile them up. They went for goals at the end when I thought there was still enough time for them to get back into it. I felt the ref was a bit harsh in the closing stages, but we were just happy to get over the line.'

Even apart from Shane Hynes' straight red card and a few old-fashioned flare-ups, Friday's clash was as robust as they come and McGinn is expecting another ding-dong battle on Sunday.

'It will be a physical battle and Cooley are moving well. We'll concentrate on them from tomorrow and I'm sure they were here and there were a few cameras aorund the place tonight. It doesn't matter, though. They know all about us and it's not a mystery how we play football.'

McGinn was surprised to hear that the sides haven't met in a final since 1981 and he doesn't recall too many Championship jousts with the Peninsula outfit during his lengthy career either. However, again he insisted the past is largely irrelevant and stressed that how Blues recover over the next week or so will be much more important than history.

'Eight days is going to be tough on the body, but we'll regroup and get it going again. We'll tweak a few things in training, but the fitness is there already, so it'll be just a case of ticking over.'

Friday's victory and the reward of yet another county final appearance capped a memorable week for the Blues club following the official 'switching on' of their floodlights at Newfoundwell and McGinn was quick to give credit where it's due.

'Football comes first, but the work people are doing down there is unbelievable. Lights cost a fortune these days, but the fund-raising they're doing is just brilliant.'

Success on the pitch makes that kind of behind-the-scenes work worthwhile and McGinn is determined to add to the Blues' sparkling trophy cabinet on Sunday.

'We have to finish it off. I've lost two finals and only won one, so that's not a great ratio,' he concluded.

The Argus