Following their five-point win over reigning champions Mullingar Shamrocks last weekend it is Tyrrellspass who will square up to St Loman’s in this year’s senior county final which is down for decision this Sunday.
Garrycastle and Mullingar Shamrocks have dominated in recent years so the presence of these two sides brings a welcome freshness to county final day. It is a big occasion for both clubs and with little to separate the sides on recent form it is not surprising that pundits are evenly split on who deserves to wear the favourites tag. The bookies have installed St Loman’s as 8/15 favourites but for what it’s worth I feel that Tyrrellspass hold a slight edge and can do enough to bring the Flanagan Cup back to the Tidy Village.
I fancied Mullingar Shamrocks to reach the decider and indeed to retain their title but Tyrrellspass had different ideas. Inspired by Ger Egan and Denis Glennon, who kicked 2-12 between them, Tom Coffey’s men were much the better side in the second half, having been lucky to go in level at the break.
This form is, for me, far more convincing than Loman’s win over an out of sorts Garrycastle who were without some key players. A lot has been made of St Loman’s hunger for success this year but Tyrrellspass haven’t won the Flanagan Cup since 2007. The likes of Martin Flanagan will be well aware that the opportunity might not come around again so I don’t expect them to be found wanting in the hunger department.
Not surprisingly many will see this as a shootout between two of the stars of our county team, John Heslin and Denis Glennon. Both are unmarkable on their day as they showed in each of their last outings. Tyrrellspass are certainly vulnerable at the back but it is difficult to see Heslin scoring anything near 2-16 in a county final. The likes of Shane Dempsey and Kelvin Reilly will have to share the scoring burden in the final if they are to end their long wait for success while Paul Sharry will also have to bring his A game.
Declan Rowley’s side, despite what they might say, are sure to be relieved that it is not an all-Mullingar final. There will be less pressure and hype around the town this week now that the ‘Pass are the opposition and deep down they will fancy their chances more now than if they were playing their neighbours.
Loman’s last appearance in a final was in 2009 when they never got out of the blocks. They were comprehensively beaten by Garrycastle on that occasion. I don’t expect that much will separate the sides either way on Sunday but I don’t trust St Loman’s to deliver when it counts most.
Tyrrellspass have come into the final somewhat under the radar and have shown steady improvement in recent outings. They look to have a better balanced forward unit than the Mullingar unit although if Gavin Hoey is ruled out that would be a big blow.
It has all of the ingredients of a high-scoring cracker but if Tyrrellspass can match their second-half performance from last weekend I expect them to be celebrating come Sunday evening.