A thriller awaits
Darcy Sands IFC Final
What a battle awaits us on Sunday afternoon in Joule Park Aughrim when old foes Tinahely and Carnew Emmets go toe to toe in the Darcy Sand Intermediate Football Championship final from 1pm.
Tinahely have been superb all season in league and championship and on paper will start the game as favourites but in James Hickey's Carnew they face an enemy that will test them to their limits.
Hickey has done much the same job as Alan Costello has in the sense of rejuvenating an ailing squad. The big question is whether the attacking flair and superb organisation shown by the Tinahely men under Costello can unlock a stubborn Carnew defence where John Walshe, Michael Rock and Paul Nolan have performed admirably on occasion.
It's likely that Carnew will play a two-man full-forward line and engage a sweeper to try and stifle the Tinahely movement up the field. Michael Byrne will get a full day's work out of John Kavanagh while the meeting of John Walshe and Alan Dillon has the potential to be one of the battles of the year.
What does Alan Costello do about Conal McCrea who has the ability and growing confidence to cause major headaches to any defence? Will Kevin Mulhall be used as a man-marking machine to limit the dual player's impact on the game?
Does James Hickey start Justin House? As impact subs go, House is up there with the best of them this season so how would a starting role suit the burly attacker?
Tinahely are unlikely to change something that isn't broken. Paddy O'Rourke will start and the Tinahely team will most likely remain the same as their semi-final victory over Kilmacanogue where Costello's men showed their attacking dynamic. If they can hit that height on Sunday, then Carnew could be in serious trouble.
Discipline will be key. And discipline is something that both managers have instilled in their teams to a huge degree since they took over the helms of both proud clubs.
The role of Jason Cush is one that Tinahely will be depending on in a big way come Sunday. Who does James Hickey detail that difficult job? The Mount Leinster Rangers man has shown serious faith in Michael Rock in this campaign and if there is a man-marking job to be done it might fall to the young tenacious corner-back but Andy Hughes might well be stationed on the 45.
Carnew will likely start with Padraig Doran and John Doyle in the middle of the field and they face a massive battle with Noel Mulhall and Brian Walsh. Walsh has been superb all season.
Does Willie Collins use all his experience and guile to limit the effectiveness of Stephen Dillon and both teams will need to be clean in their tackles with Tony Darcy and John Kavanagh in fine form from placed balls all year?
This final is one of the most eagerly anticipated clashes of all the county deciders given the history between these two clubs.
If it's a dirty day in the county grounds expect a dog-eat-dog battle right to the final whistle.