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Shels and Mary’s fancied to take the top two honours

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A WEEKEND of drama was served up in the various competitions by several football clubs, as under the new regulations three games were decided on a dreaded penalty shoot-out on Saturday.

Monageer-Boolavogue became the first team in the history of Wexford GAA to win a football game by this method, followed minutes later by St. Mary’s (Maudlintown), and then two hours afterwards by Cloughbawn who beat near neighbours Adamstown in a shoot-out.

It’s a dramatic way to end a Gaelic football match and is heart-breaking for the losers. In a discussion I had with a prominent GAA coach about this way of deciding a game, we came to the consensus that there may be another way more appropriate to the skills of Gaelic football to decide a game.

After much discussion which lasted at least two minutes, we agreed that a better option might be to give the player a free shot at goal from the edge of the D straight in front of goal, where points only count. It’s only 33m out and might seem easy, but add the pressure involved as the posts become narrower and the distance seems further as the legs become shakier. It is just an idea but, remember, you read it here first!

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Next weekend we can look forward to several county finals being played over Saturday and Sunday. Chadwicks Wexford Park is the place to be on Sunday for the Intermediate and Senior double-header. The curtain-raiser between St. Mary’s (Maudlintown) and Crossabeg-Ballymurn is a game to look forward to. Both teams play exciting attacking football and are packed with talented young players.

Crossabeg-Ballymurn have been knocking on the Senior door for couple of years now and have played some excellent football this year. St. Mary’s are a rejuvenated team this year and showed tremendous character in their semi-final when looking down and out with only a couple of minutes remaining. This is going to be a close one, but I have a feeling that there is one more big performance in the Wexford town team and think they might edge this one.

The Senior final pairing is not one you would have predicted at the start of the campaign. Shelmaliers would have been contenders in many eyes but Gusserane are the surprise packets of the championship. Their semi-final victory over a fancied St. Martin’s epitomised what their team is all about. It was full of fighting spirit, a never-say-die attitude, intelligent football, and clinical finishing at important stages of the game. Their performances over the last three games have given them the confidence and belief that they can beat any team.

Shelmaliers have cruised to the final this year unbeaten and have improved with each game. Brian Malone has been re-invented as a full-forward, and Craig McCabe as a goalkeeper, while Eoghan Nolan has returned at the right time from injury as everything seems to be falling in to place for them.

John Hegarty has them playing some great football with scoring threats from all positions on the field. While Gusserane have nothing to fear and have a good recent record against their opponents, I think that Shelmaliers will prove too strong on this occasion and expect them to add to the title they won in 2018.

In Intermediate ‘A’, the Collie Byrne-managed Clongeen have been impressive in every game leading up to the final, as have their high-scoring opponents Cloughbawn. In another close game I will tip Clongeen to return to the Intermediate ranks.

My final prediction is in the Junior final between Kilrush and Monageer-Boolavogue, two teams who have both contended in this grade for the last few years. I haven’t seen either team play this year, but I will tip Monageer-Boolavogue to prevail.

Best of luck to all teams involved in their respective finals this weekend. Hopefully no players will miss out due to injuries caused by the heavy schedule over the last few weeks, and I also hope we have some great games to entertain us.


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