Anybody who has heard of last year’s quarter final clash between Parke and Islandeady or was unlucky enough to have been at it, may well think of staying clear of this Sunday’s county junior final between the same sides. That clash in Breaffy was as far from a classic as you could find, in fact the game looked to be heading towards a very unusual stalemate at half time with neither side looking like it was going to score until Peter Collins managed to put the ball over the bar two minutes into injury time to give Islandeady a 0-1 to 0-0 lead at the break. The second half of that clash was a little bit better, but once again one side failed to score in 30 minutes of football, this time it was Islandeady who could not hit the target, and Parke ran out 1-5 to 0-1 winners in the end. But that game, while an interesting footnote ahead of Sunday’s clash, should be put well to the back of the mind, as the game coming up between both sides has the potential to be a real top drawer clash. When the junior championship draw was made at the start of the year both clubs were identified as potential title and winners, and while they have been made work to get this far they are thoroughly deserving of their status as finalists.
For Islandeady it has been a long slog to get themselves out of junior football, it has been 25 years since they last won the junior championship, and this ambitions club has been working hard at breaking out of the bottom rank of Mayo football for some time now. They narrowly missed out in 2007 when they made the final, only to fall at the final hurdle to the islanders from Achill, and three years later they have worked their way back into a position to strike for victory once again. For Parke a win on Sunday will seem them move back up to where they see their rightful position in intermediate football. They last won the title in 1997, and managed to operate comfortably enough at that level for a number of years. In fact they came very close to winning the intermediate championship three years ago, but they lost out in a west Mayo shootout against Tourmakeady. But they somehow managed to find themselves relegated back to the junior grade in 2008 and have been looking to make their way out of it since. Last year they came unstuck at the semi-final stage losing to Ardnaree in the last four, this year they needed a replay to beat the same opposition to book their place in the final.
Both clubs will go into Sunday’s game full of confidence that they can claim the title and make the step up to intermediate football for 2011, to add even more intrigue to this game, both teams had a number of players who teamed up together this year in the senior championship. The entry of West Mayo into this year’s senior championship gave players from Parke and Islandeady the chance to mix it up with the big boys, and the experience of playing at that level will only bring on their games.
Both sides have a number of players who are more than capable of taking the game by the scruff of the neck and it turn it their side’s direction. Parke come into the game with a very impressive forward line, in Simon Cloherty they have a man who has been one of the best club forwards in the county for a number of years now. His point taking ability from play and from frees will be a thorn in the side of Islandeady. Parke also welcomed back this year former Mayo minor Niall Dunne after many years playing in Dublin, the return of a player of his capabilities will be a welcome boost to his side’s chances. The Parke full forward line looks like one of the most dangerous units in the game, Dwayne Flynn, Sean McHale, and Darren Durkan have scores all over them. While Durkan may still be only a minor, his experiences with Mayo this year will be a big addition to his arsenal ahead of the game. At the back Parke will be looking to Tom Walsh, Mervyn Marley, and John Cloherty to put the halt on the Islandeady attack. Stopping that Islandeady attack will be a difficult task, one man in particular, Vinny Feeney, has been having a great season and his attacking abilities have been well noted around the county. Another man who shone this year is Liam Joyce who put in a starring performance in the recent u21c county final where Islandeady picked up the title after a fine display. At the back Ollie Feeney has been in impressive form all summer long, both with Islandeady and with West Mayo in the senior championship, his performance will be key to Islandeady’s success. The battle in the middle of the park is where the game could be won and Islandeady have been dealt a cruel blow, with Brian McCormack out injured. McCormack’s loss will be a tough thing for Islandeady to get over and their probable pairing of Peter Collins and Shane Heraty will be in for a tough battle against James Gillespie and Declan Neary.
When it comes to the crunch there should be little or nothing between these sides so do not count out the possibility of a second day being needed to separate them.