This Sunday in Pearse Stadium ( 4pm ) St James will take on Leitir Mor in the eagerly-awaited county intermediate final.
The winners will play senior football in 2010 and both sides will be going flat out to try to achieve that objective, and also annex the county intermediate title in the process.
St James easily defeated a poor Dunmore McHales in their county semi-final, winning by 13 points in a one-sided encounter. On the other side of the county Leitir Mor surprised many people in sneaking a deserved one-point win over Oughterard.
That was a big win for the Naomh Anna men and they will take a lot of conviction and belief from that victory. It was a hard fought win and they will have learnt a lot about themselves in that win.
It could stand them in good stead this weekend. St James have been very strong in the minor grade over the past few years and many of those players are now establishing themselves on the club’s top adult team. The most high profile player in their ranks is county senior player Paul Conroy who has the capacity to be a real match winner when the mood takes him. He was man of the match against Dunmore. His midfield partnership with the experienced Mark Kelly has been working well this season and Leitir Mor will have to do well in that area if they are to collect.
Kelly has been a great servant over the past few years for the St James club and his enthusiasm and love of football is a great example for the youngsters on the club’s panel. Mark played in the Connacht senior championship for Galway back in 1995 under Bosco McDermott, so it is a credit to his commitment and dedication that he is still going strong and doing the business at club level 14 years later. He is a wily campaigner and he won’t be found wanting in the St James engine room on Sunday.
Team manager Seamus Burke knows his charges face a really tough challenge on Sunday and he is under no illusions about the power and quality that Leitir Mor possess.
“I saw them against Oughterard and they played very well. They were very cohesive and disciplined in the defence with some very strong and sturdy players. Our forwards won’t have it easy, and they will have to graft for anything they get.
“The power, height and pace of Fiachra and Ferdia Breathnach will be difficult to counteract and Toto O’Griofa is a very talented player too and we will have to be at our very best to beat them. We would have preferred a tougher test in the semi-final, but we are hopeful that if we play to our potential we can win.”
St James will probably have to line out without the talented Rory McCann who is just coming back from a quad injury, but apart from that they have a clean bill of health. Defensively St James are anchored by Alan Deacy at full-back, with Jamie Burke at centre back and county minor player for the past two years Johnny Duane at left-full back.
Up front they will look to Eoin Concannon to provide the bulk of their scores. He shot 1-06 (0-4fs ) against Dunmore and he is a very talented player. He will probably be joined in the full-forward line by the experienced Alan O’Donnell and young Ronan O’Connell.
Seamus Burke is hopeful his side can make the step-up to the senior ranks as he believes the panel of players in St James are good enough for that level and would thrive on the new challenges it would present.
“There are two senior teams in the city now with Salthill and St Michael’s and we would love to have another one at that grade on this side of the city. Obviously Leitir Mor will have a different view on that and they are working really hard at promoting football in their club too. We know that we will have it all to do to beat them, however once you get to a final you can’t expect to get anything easy.”