St James in Croke Park showdown on Saturday

St James’ manager Seamus Burke has faith that his boys will give it their ‘best shot’ in Saturday’s All Ireland Intermediate Club Football Championship final.

St James’ manager Seamus Burke has faith that his boys will give it their ‘best shot’ in Saturday’s All Ireland Intermediate Club Football Championship final.

The chance to win an All-Ireland final in Croke Park only comes to most clubs very infrequently, if at all.

There are exceptions, like Nemo Rangers, Portuma and Crossmaglen, who are regulars at the ballroom of romance, but for most others it is an opportunity to be grasped with both hands.

You do not know when, or even if, your club will ever get the chance of national glory again so you have to smash and grab the plaudits on offer.

The footballers of St James face that scenario this Saturday evening when they take on Lisnaskea Emmetts (Fermanagh ) at 7.15pm in the All-Ireland Intermediate Club Football Championship final.

They have a chance of national glory and they are completely focused on coming back to Renmore, Mervue and Ballybane as All-Ireland champions.

Lisnakea, however, will present a difficult obstacle to Seamus Burke’s charges as they are a very good side.

They were only relegated to intermediate in Fermanagh in the recent past and have bounced straight back up again in style. They are considered one of the best clubs in the county.

They have won the Fermanagh senior championship on 20 occasions, the last time was in 1994.

Traditionally they have supplied players for the Fermanagh senior team, including Tommy Durnien, Collie Curran, Shane King, and their biggest name player Mark Little.

Indeed when Fermanagh reached the All Ireland semi-finals in 2004, going down narrowly to Mayo, Little proved one of their most inspirational players. His mazy running and clever ball control was a key feature of the team’s overall attacking strategy. He is still going strong and St James will need to have a plan to nullify his influence this weekend.

The other man they have to stop is current Fermanagh senior Daniel Kille, who scored 0-9 of their 1-12 total in the semi-final.

Clash of styles

The Fermanagh outfit play a short passing game; St James try to be more direct and hit their full-forward line early. Alan O’Donnell is a good ball winner at the edge of the square and Ronan O’Connell has also been in good form all season.

Seamie Rabbitte is suspended for the final, so there will be an opportunity for one of the panel to come into the starting XV and play a big role.

James have a few niggling injuries, but they are hopeful all their players will be able to don the jersey for the biggest night in the club’s history.

For them to be victorious, they will be looking for big displays from their two county stars, Paul Conroy and Eoin Concannon.

Conroy mans the engine room with team captain Mark Kelly, while Concannon is the team’s main score-getter from centre-forward. Beside him on the wings, Michael Elwood and Sean Donnellan do a lot of the unseen grafting needed to win tight games.

The foundation stones at the back are goalkeeper John Egan, full-back Alan Deacy, and Johnny Duane at number six.

Both corner men, Shane Coughlan and Conor Glynn, have been terrific all season and Jamie Burke and Tommy Walsh on the wings have been to the fore when the need has been greatest.

Team manager Seamus Burke is optimistic of his side’s chances.

“We always have respect for our opposition, and Lisnakea are a good team. But we have a lot of faith in our guys and they have worked really hard in the past few weeks. When the chips have been down all year, especially against Carna-Caiseal and An Spidéal in the county championship, they dug out a result and we are looking for them to do the same this Saturday.

“We are fortunate to have plenty of leaders and good quality players on the panel and we will be going to Dublin to give it our best shot this weekend. It won’t be easy, but we believe we have the team to produce the goods and get the win.”

* The selectors on the St James’ management team are Pat Burke, Tony Hanley and Michael Deacy.


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