Intermediate Final – Clans v Fionnbarrs – a preview

The Louth LGFA championship finals are down for decision this weekend.

In the Senior defending champions Geraldines take on St. Bride’s in Stabannon on Saturday (3:30pm).

Earlier at the mid-Louth venue will be the intermediate decider between Clan na Gael and Naomh Fionnbarra at 12 midday. 

In the opening match, Naomh Fionnbarra will be aiming to go one step further than last season when they lost to St. Patrick’s at the final hurdle. The Annagasan side have beaten Dreadnots, Glyde Rangers and Kilkerley Emmets en route to the final, the win over Kilkerley coming in last Sunday’s semi-final where The Barrs were pushed all the way before getting the win.

The latest victory over a strong and youthful Kilkerley pleased their captain, Amy Grant: “It was an all round solid team performance from start to finish. We were focused on doing the simple things right and getting off to a good start and once that was achieved the rest fell into place. We played against a strong breeze in the first half and due to smart play and Trojan work we didn’t let it hamper us. The speed and talent of Kilkerley made it difficult at times however we remained calm and trusted the process in order to complete the job. The work ethic shown by the team was phenomenal and needed in order to come out with a victory.”

In Clans, they face formidable opposition in their quest for honours. Clans have been boosted by the aquesition of ex-Dublin star Denise McKenna to an attack that already has the talented Ciara Woods as well as rising star Cara McKeever to call on. They are unbeaten in the league and convincingly beat St. Mary’s and Kilkerley in the early rounds before slipping to defeat against Gleann Mhairtin (the Naomh Mairtin/Glen Emmets combination) in their last group game. In last Sunday’s semi-final they were never in danger as they beat Glyde Rangers 5-12 to 2-7 with the Woods/McKeever duo contributing 5-5 of their total in a game that was ideal preperation for a final just six days away.

“We enjoyed the semi-final where we wanted to set our own standard on the match and power on through right until the end which I think we did well” said Denise McKenna.

With the final coming up so quickly, what’s this week been like?

“It’s a lot of games in a short spell, it makes it exciting. You have to balance training and recovery better with shorter time between games,” added the Dubliner.

What about your opponents?

“Our management have done their homework on the opposition for the final, but we plan on concentrating on our game plan and our work rate etc. You can only control the controlables, and we will be concentrating on how hard we work as a team on Saturday,” concluded the former Fingallians star.

Meanwhile, Grant believes her side can atone for last year’s disappointment: “We are delighted to be in another championship final. It has been a strange and tough year for many so this year reaching a final feels extra special. We have had some tough games recently which should stand to us heading into this final against the Clans. We are hoping to do one better than last year and we will use that experience and drive on.

“Having played against the Clans on a number of occasions we are expecting a tough and tight battle. Our experienced management team of Stuart Reynolds, Alan McMahon and Andrew Rogers will have us ready to go and prepared to do what we do best.”

“The six days between the semi-final and final will be treated just like every other week for us. We will recover and train well whilst looking forward to another game of football.

“Come 12 o’clock on Saturday, we will be ready to work hard, work together and be raring to go!”

The club championship campaign has served up brilliant matches and with so many talented players on view this final could be another classic and while the Dundalk side will start as favourites The Barrs are more than capable of causing an upset.

Preview by Dermot Woods