Pat Marnane will be a key player for Galtee Rovers in the West Tipperary senior football final.
The 74th Shane Hennessy Agri-Advisor West Senior football Championship Final takes place this Saturday September 2nd in Annacarty at 3pm as Galtee Rovers and Arravale Rovers go head to head.
This has never been a straight forward rivalry and throw into the mix that both sides have to win to re-enter the County Championship or its season over. So is your money on red 17 or black 17.
Between these two giants of West football they have a combined total of 38 West titles and played in a combined 66 finals. Galtee Rovers top the Roll of Honour on 25 with Arravale in second on 13 titles. It will be the tenth meeting of the sides in a final with Galtee Rovers ahead 5 to 4. It will the first meeting in the final since 2013 where Arravale Rovers came out on top.
The sides have met twice in the West Championship since that final and on both occasions Arravale went into the games as defending champions and on both occasions Galtee Rovers came out on top after extra time. In 2014 Arravale Rovers were in pole position to book a fourth final in a row but their failure to score from the 45th minute saw Galtee Rovers upset the odds. Twelve months ago Arravale Rovers would have been perceived favourites but Galtee Rovers fought all the way edging it in extra-time.
The sides have met twice this year. Back in the March Arravale Rovers came out on top in the delayed 2016 O’Donoghue Cup Final. Just a few weeks ago Galtee Rovers reversed that result in this year’s final when a very strong first half performance laid the foundation for victory.
Both sides had poor campaigns in the County series. After a bright opening round victory over Ardfinnan, Galtee Rovers went down to Loughmore/Castleiney and Eire Og Annacarty Donohill finishing third in Group 3. Arravale Rovers opened with a narrow victory over Fethard, but defeat by Moyle Rovers and a big defeat against Aherlow Gaels also saw them finish third in Group 2.
Brian Jones scoring the winning goal to put Arravale Rovers into the final in the semi-final win over Eire Og.
This put both sides in the position of having to win this year’s West Championship to re-enter the County Championship. The first semi-final pitted Galtee Rovers against defending champions Aherlow Gaels. Despite a slow and possibly nervy start Galtee Rovers found their rhythm and two Tony Egan first half goals helped them return to their second final in a row.
In the other semi-final Arravale Rovers eventually overcame a dogged Eire Og Annacarty Donohill side a late Brian Jones goal proving to be the difference.
Match Ups are likely to be key in this contest and how each team is likely to go at it is more key.
Defensively Arravale Rovers set up well attacking on the counter, sweeping down the field, when they overturn possession but the ball is slow to hit their forwards. For long periods of their semi-final Michael O’Dwyer was the sole forward inside and this could have to change if they are to overturn the Galtee Rovers defence.
Arravale have often been more suited to fast quick ball going into the forwards who have speed giving them the advantage in winning the ball and more importantly having support to lay it off to.
The experienced Andrew Morrissey is likely to pick up O’Dwyer. The two Leahys started in the full forward line for the semi-final although both roamed further out the field where they could have a better influence on proceedings should they have players inside to aim at. Donough certainly has the ability to open defences and create goal chances. Whether they stay in the full forward line will be interesting to see against a Galtee Rovers full back of Eamon O’Connell and Tony O’Brien.
Arravale’s half forward line the last day out saw Darragh Coughlan and James Hogan on the wing and Bryan Lowry at centre forward. Coughlan definitely has pace while Hogan physicality added with his ability to kick frees as well as some superb points give Arravale Rovers serious options in this line.
Eric Grogan and Damien Bourke will have to be on guard here with the possibility of Grogan going on Hogan who are both tall men. Bryan Lowry started centre forward for the semi-final but if he goes there again will be interesting to see as Pat Marnane will provide a tough obstacle and he has been in good form and will also provide a link to the Galtee Rovers attack.
Midfield can often be the key to winning a football game and here Galtee Rovers have two big men in Bernard Fitzgerald and Conor O’Sullivan, both of whom have a presence going forward as well as defending. Brian Jones and Niall Donovan will certainly have a battle on their hands to control the game here.
Galtee Rovers half forward line of Stephen O’Dwyer, Shane Power and Daire Egan is very impressive, all the more interesting that all three were on the Galtee Rovers U21 team earlier in the year. Shane Power can go deep but is very confident running with the ball to set up an attack. Stephen O’Dwyer can add points from play and free while Daire Egan has speed which will cause problems.
The Arravale Rovers half back line will certainly have their hands full here. Darren Lowry will likely play centre back again and while he could play in any position through the spine of the team he is most needed here. He led the comeback in the O’Donoghue cup final albeit unsuccessful and he also drove Arravale on in the semi-final win over Eire Og. His leadership when on form is something special and Arravale will certainly need this.
Paddy Dalton’s return from injury is a timely boost to Arravale and his awareness and positional sense both on and off the ball gives Arravale options going forward.
Ted Lowry is new to the team and will certainly bring a physical side to the half back line.
The Galtee Rovers full forward line is very experienced. The experienced Colin Morrissey is flanked on either side by the Egan brothers Tony and Shane and all have the ability to do damage on the scoreboard. This will definitely be a tough test for what is a young Arravale Rovers full back line of Ciaran Lowry flanked by Pearse Richardson and Niall Fitzgerald.
Should Arravale pack the defence and make life difficult for Galtee Rovers going forward Morrissey could certainly be used as a target man.
Interestingly both goalkeepers Timmy Dalton and Sean Daly are previous outfield players so may bring a different prospective to the position.
In 2007 Arravale Rovers captained by Darren Lowry claimed their second county Minor A football title in four years. The two Leahy brothers and Michael O’Dwyer were also part of that team. Ten years on with some of their older players now moved on the leadership of this team is now in their hands.
In the same year Arravale Rovers came back up Senior after a year in the Intermediate ranks and have progressed to a certain level since (winning three West titles (11, 13,15) but have struggled to make the next step. They will be disappointed not to have done back to back titles in the West but will be eager to regain the title.
Galtee Rovers on the other hand have got a successful U21 campaign behind them this year going all the way to the County final (narrowly losing to Moyle Rovers) and some of those players have played a major part in their Senior team. They will certainly not want to lose two finals in a row and this could be a driving factor in the will to win. They have a serious mix of experience of youth and experience.