Reigning champions Clonkill will be under no illusions about the serious challenge Raharney pose to their crown when the sides meet in this year’s decider. This is the second time in three years that the two clubs have met in the final and it was the men from Raharney who emerged on top two years ago.
In many ways this is a difficult game to call. Clonkill were crowned All-Ireland intermediate champions three years ago which is an indication of the talent they possess. Then Raharney ousted them from their throne as county champions 12 months later. Last year Clonkill again ruled the roost and claimed the silverware.
In this year’s campaign it is Raharney who have been the form team, easily accounting for Castlepollard in their semi-final. Clonkill have struggled at times to hit peak form, though they had little difficulty in accounting for Oliver Plunkett’s in the second semi-final.
Paul Greville, Frank Boyle, John Shaw, and Brian Smyth will be key players for Raharney while Clonkill be looking for big performances from the likes of Andrew Mitchell, Paddy Dowdall, and Brendan Murtagh.
Yet with more than a friendly rivalry between these two sides this has the potential to be a simmering game. Referee James McGrath has the experience to ensure it doesn’t boil over.
Playing Clonkill seems to bring out the best in Raharney and they are sure to test the reigning champs to the limit. Yet Clonkill would appear to possess a stronger forward unit and their greater ability to get scores should swing things in their favour, but only just.