Conway Cup Showdown

County Senior Football
Championship Final ’18
Kilrossanty v The Nire
(Fraher Field, Sunday, 6pm)

Preview: Thomas Keane

Anyone from Kilrossanty who attended last Sunday’s Senior Football Championship Semi-Final in which The Nire edged out Ballinacourty by two points, will feel their charges stand a great chance of ending a 29-year wait for a 16th Conway Cup. However, given The Nire’s pedigree since the turn of the century, which began with a Millennium Final win over Kilrossanty, the men in green and gold will go into Sunday evening’s Final as underdogs. Historically, a Senior Final appearance for Kilrossanty is nothing new, but they’ve not featured in such a showpiece for 18 years and not won a title since that gilded generation in the 80s last tasted glory in 1989. Their modern pickings have been lean, the closest footballing comparison in the county to Mount Sion’s ongoing hurling ‘famine’.
Including replays, The Nire have reached this stage 10 times since last the green and gold was donned in such a showpiece. History isn’t everything but it still counts for something.
Kilrossanty, who have been moving in the right direction for several years, have come unstuck in the latter stages in recent years, most notably against The Nire and Stradbally. But their quarter-final dismissal of the defending champions laid down the weightiest of markers, indicating that they’re reading to breach the ‘Big Three’ ceiling.

The Nire's Conor Gleeson gearing up for next Sunday evening's County Senior Football Final at Fraher Field. 	| Photos: Sean Byrne

The Nire's Conor Gleeson gearing up for next Sunday evening's County Senior Football Final at Fraher Field. | Photos: Sean Byrne


Earlier in the campaign it appeared they’d been dealt a massive blow when star forward Paul Whyte picked up an injury which initially appeared a career ender. And while the long-term playing prognosis doesn’t look too good for Whyte, he has since played both in goal and in attack and is likely to be pivotal to his team’s chances this Sunday evening. But quite how big a part he will play remain to be seen. The Nire may well be without Michael O’Gorman, after he had to be withdrawn on Sunday last due to a calf injury. The Ballymacarbry were also shy of top scorer Shane O’Meara last Sunday and should they be without both next weekend, their odds of victory will have significantly lengthened.
If that does prove the case, The Nire will go into this Final short four of the men who lined out in last year’s Final defeat to Stradbally (with Justin Walsh and Seamus Lawlor not involved this season).
The confidence gained from defeating Stradbally showed no sign of waning during Kilrossanty’s semi-final win over An Rinn, while The Nire will draw strength from the nature of their second half display against Ballinacourty.

Kilrossanty will evidently look to Paul Whyte for inspiration, in addition to big displays from the Prendergasts, Patrick Cunningham, Joey Veale, Niall Walsh, Donal Fitzgerald and Martin Dunne.
For The Nire, the electric Conor Gleeson should occupy top billing. If he can get the right ball, he’ll cause problems for any defender in the country. Should he be carefully watched then the likes of Shane Walsh, Jamie Barron, the Guirys, James McGrath and natural leader Thomas O’Gorman could prove match winners.
Most neutrals would love to see Kilrossanty break the Big Three’s stranglehold on the Championship and they’ll have benefited from their three-week build-up to the Final in contrast to the Nire’s quick turnaround.

While The Nire have had the better of recent Championship tussles between the two, this could well come down to the fitness – or lack thereof – of three players: Michael O’Gorman, Shane O’Meara and Paul Whyte. There’ll certainly be gold ribbons on the cup on Sunday evening: the other colour remains up for debate ahead of our county’s biggest footballing day.

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