Shels seek first crown
Kilanerin provide opposition in novel county football final
In a unique final pairing that is attracting the interest of neutral followers, Shelmaliers will be trying to create their own piece of history when they come up against Kilanerin in the Tom Doyle Supplies Senior football championship final in Innovate Wexford Park on Sunday (3.15 p.m.).
Few would have envisaged such a final pairing at the start of the championship campaign, particularly as Shelmaliers had their sights set on hurling glory, while their opponents, Kilanerin, had just returned to top flight football having won the Intermediate title last year.
While disappointed with their hurling exit at the quarter-final stage, Shelmaliers re-grouped, and despite the quick turnaround, they managed to turn on their best footballing display of the campaign in downing the holders, Starlights, with a commanding performance that caught many by surprise.
Now they are just 60 minutes away from creating history and winning their first-ever Senior football title, but they still have that little matter of a Matty Forde-inspired Kilanerin outfit to contend with.
It's a novel final that's arousing great interest, particularly given the contrast in the teams' approach to the game.
Kilanerin have a blend of experience and youth, preferring to play the possession game in their build-up which they have utilised so well, as they have emerged as one of the better footballing sides during the campaign.
Shelmaliers bring a nice mixture to their game with a brand of open, direct football which has stood the test, but they are also capable of changing their gameplan with composed attacking play, as was seen in their demolition of Starlights.
Shelmaliers will no doubt endeavour to minimise the supply to the veteran Matty Forde, who still is lethal in front of goal, and does so much to inspire those around him, but it's the midfield duel that could dictate the outcome of this game.
Both Niall Hughes and Niall Breen have been immense for the north county side, while Eoghan Nolan and Brian Malone, backed up by Simon Donohoe, have brought real strength to their side around the middle sector, with the veteran Malone playing some of his best-ever football at the moment.
The manner in which Kilanerin retained their composure when coming under intense second-half St. Martin's pressure suggests they have developed into a side capable of taking that final step, particularly with players like Gavin O'Toole, Dean O'Toole, Seán Forde, Páuric Hughes and Conor Devitt developing into potential match-winners.
Each line on the Shels side has the potential to dominate, with Glen Malone strong in defence, while Craig McCabe, Eoin Doyle, Ross Banville and A.J. Lehane are blossoming in attack.
Given the respective semi-final displays where both were so impressive, I've a feeling that the Shels will edge through to an historic first title in this grade.
The victors will face the Meath champions in Leinster on October 28.