Reigning champions Garrycastle look all set to make it three-in-a-row when they take on Mullingar Shamrocks in the county decider this Sunday. In a repeat of last year’s final Anthony Cunningham’s men will again be warm favourites to oblige and on all known form it’s difficult to see an upset here.
For their part Shamrocks will relish the opportunity to avenge last year’s four-point defeat and their sobering loss at the hands of the same opposition in the group stages. Ray Smyth is sure to have his charges well primed to ambush the green and reds. While anything is possible in football the Mullingar side will have to show significant improvement and hope Garrycastle have an off day if they are to add the Flanagan Cup to their league title.
There is no doubt that these have been the two best teams in the county for the past two seasons and even though I can’t see anything but a Garrycastle win I expect Shamrocks to play their part in an entertaining final.
Contrary to popular belief at the outset Garrycastle have proven themselves to be stronger this year when many thought their star was about to wane. The return to action of Gary Dolan, Rory McGowan, and James Duignan has strengthened their hand as has the sensational form of Paddy Mulvihill while the emergence of Noel Monaghan as a scoring forward adds freshness to a vastly experienced panel.
Long serving and ultra-reliable custodian Cathal Mullan is returning from his travels to give security in the all important goalkeeping position. Full back and captain John Gaffey will have his hands full with in-form Lorcan Smyth in what should be a fascinating duel.
While Garrycastle have weaknesses at the back their strength around midfield and especially up front gives them a clear edge on their opponents. Even if Dessie is held, Paddy Mulvihill, Paul Dillon, Gary Dolan, Conor Cosgrave, or James Duignan are all capable of keeping the scoreboard ticking.
In contrast Shamrocks don’t have the luxury of the same quality of forwards and ultimately that could be their downfall.
With most of the Garrycastle team having tasted defeat in a previous decider at the hands of Castledaly and a very astute manager to keep them focused they are unlikely to fall into the complacency trap. If they are tuned in as I expect they will be they could win with a bit to spare and then look forward to giving the Leinster club championship a right good rattle.