The Paudie Kissane column: The Barrs answered all the hard questions in a county final for the ages

The Paudie Kissane column: The Barrs answered all the hard questions in a county final for the ages
The Barrs flying the flag after defeating Duhallow. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

THE county senior football final this year was a very enjoyable game to watch and with St Finbarr's finally getting their hands on the Andy Scannell Cup an emotional end to the season.

While bitterly cold, the calm conditions helped provide a high scoring encounter. What made it such a good contest was the way each team responded really well to periods of adversity.

It’s easy to be good when things are going well, but the real sign of a team and its character and organisation is when they are under pressure after conceding a soft goal.

Duhallow started brightly showing great use of the ball and attacking intent. St Finbarr’s appeared vulnerable and when Donncha O’Connor went on the loop to kick Duhallow’s second point you were concerned for their defence.

In the next few minutes, Duhallow won more possession in good attacking positions but tighter St Finbarr’s defence and poor Duhallow decision-making left St Finbarr’s off the hook.

St Finbarr’s had a huge attacking platform from the success of their long kick-outs. This provided them extra space many times to run successfully at the Duhallow defence.

Duhallow were pushing up man to man on the kick-outs and but you felt they could have dealt better with St Finbarr’s strategy. Credit St Finbarr’s with Ian Maguire as expected showing great leadership contesting the long ball.

Ian Maguire wins the ball from Duhallow's Paul Walsh. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Ian Maguire wins the ball from Duhallow's Paul Walsh. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

It wasn’t just about winning clean ball but rather a mix of orchestrated taps down to a teammate or just a case of a player bringing the required hunger and aggression at just the right time to win the breaking ball.

A key area of the game was always going to be the battle between Ian Maguire and Aidan Walsh at midfield. Helping your team winning primary possession is a vital job for any midfielder particularly if your team prefers long kick-outs.

Maguire had the greater impact and definitely had the bigger influence regards primary possession. Over the course of the game though Aidan Walsh also had a hand in many Duhallow scores.

It must be acknowledged the players were not always direct opponents.

Donncha O’Connor showed his class once again. Early in the game he was a menace at full-forward but was then moved to the half-forward line early in the second half as Duhallow were three points adrift.

The ball going inside had dried up as Duhallow suddenly lacked a linkman on the 40. Three of the next four Duhallow points came through O’Connor floating lovely kick passes into the Duhallow full-forward line.

Support play through the hands can be exciting too but considering it’s a game of football, it always great to see the kick-pass been used to open up the opposition defence.

Some defenders can be great facing the ball, but it is when they are turned back towards their own goal that suddenly previously stern defence’s can look somewhat average.

Duhallow’s first goal from Seamus Hickey was created by an Aidan Walsh diagonal delivery to Jerry O’Connor. Hickey then was the crucial third man, making the hard run through the heart of the Blues defence.

Hickey’s runs down the central channel led to two Duhallow goals but for the remainder of the game, Hickey was unable to win possession in similar positions. He did win possession out wide but he was easier to defend from there.

Eoghan McGrevey turns inside Duhallow's Lorcan O'Neill. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Eoghan McGrevey turns inside Duhallow's Lorcan O'Neill. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

St Finbarr’s strength was their running game, but Colin Lyons great goal right after half time was created again through a clever kick pass from Michael Shields. It appeared nothing was on but St Finbarr’s were patient and switched possession until an opening appeared and Lyons finished calmly to the net.

Colin Lyons after the victory. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Colin Lyons after the victory. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

'House' while having his best moments in the third quarter was overall very consistent through the whole game. His direct opponent Michael Vaughan was taken off just before halftime and his pace and ability to attack space created many openings for his team.

The main talking point for many no doubt will be Duhallow’s concession of 1-1 from losing two short kick-outs in a row with the game tied at 2-11 each. In such a tight contest those mistakes were going to matter.

Similar to the fight shown in the Castlehaven games, Duhallow responded well with three quick points in succession and in the space of a few minutes there was only a point between the sides again.

Steven Sherlock then had a shot saved when it looked like a point was a better option, this chance coming from another long kick-out. Thankfully for St Finbarr’s it didn’t matter as the game was won and lost in the next few moments.

Duhallow had two possessions in good attacking positions. Firstly Duhallow had a free overturned to a hop ball and then Kevin Crowley lost possession near the Barrs' 21.

On both occasions, the Barrs counterattacked and scored two crucial points through substitutes Eoghan Finn and Colm Barrett. Duhallow played some excellent football at times but they will be disappointed with their defending on the day.

Duhallow could never get to grips with St Finbarr’s running game. Two goals plus too many score able frees were conceded too easily. Credit St Finbarr’s though, they still had to really earn that victory yesterday and their display overall had a real sense of desire about it.

Their celebrations no doubt will be very sweet. 

TEARS OF JOY: Barrs goalkeeper John Kerins with his mum Ann yesterday. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
TEARS OF JOY: Barrs goalkeeper John Kerins with his mum Ann yesterday. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Congratulations to Cill Na Martra also on their county intermediate win. No matter how much stronger than the opposition you might appear, a team must still go out and win the game.

Cill Na Martra certainly did that today and thoroughly deserve to be competing at Premier Intermediate for 2019.

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