Sunday 21 January 2018

Gall's have potency to pierce Kilmurry's stingy defence

AIB All-Ireland SF club final, Kilmurry-Ibrickane (Clare) v St Gall's (Antrim), Croke Park, 3.45, D Fahy (Longford)

Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

St Gall's conceded a mere seven points in the 2006 All-Ireland final but still lost because they scored only six points against Salthill-Knocknacarra.

That memory will be fresh in their minds this afternoon when they line up against Kilmurry-Ibrickane in a final that nobody would have predicted last October.

St Gall's 2006 experience will have a resonance too for Kilmurry, who have an incredible defensive record, having conceded a total of just 0-28 in their last five games.

Mind you, it needed to be good as their scoring average was just under 0-9 per game until hitting an undisciplined Portlaoise for 1-14 in the All-Ireland semi-final.

The worry for Kilmurry now is that since every sequence comes to an end, there's a danger that this could be the day when they concede a goal or two.

Defending the wide open spaces of Croke Park will put them under more pressure than has been the case thus far, especially against a St Gall's side which has racked up some decent scores in their five-game route to the final.

However, Kilmurry are representing the best in Munster and Leinster and have every reason to be confident of prolonging the fairytale and becoming the first club to take the Andy Merrigan Cup back to Clare.

The same honour awaits St Gall's in Antrim, so this really has all the ingredients to be one of the most colourful occasions for quite some time. However, there will be a whole lot more to it than that as both clubs have proved that they're in the final on merit, rather than as a result of a freak set of results. Kilmurry's defensive solidity has been the centrepiece of their fantastic run, but can it last against a lively St Gall's front line?

Unfortunately for the Claremen, this could be the day when their concession rate goes up a level that their forwards won't be able to counteract at the other end leaving Gall's captain Colin Brady to lift the trophy.

Last clash: None

Odds: St Gall's 4/11; Kilmurry-Ibrickane 11/4; Draw 7/1.

Previous All-Ireland wins: St Gall's -- 0; Kilmurry-Ibrickane -- 0.

Verdict: St Gall's

Kilmurry-Ibrickane v St Gall's

Live, TG4, 3.45

Irish Independent

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