If there is one thing that the Two Mile House management team can’t be faulted for, it is their meticulous preparation for each game.
Each opposition is analysed with a fine tooth comb before every game, and picking apart various avenues where they can be exploited is one of the key facets of that plan. By way of example, Niall Browne and his colleagues prepared for the county final against Monasterevan by instructing their players in the middle of the field to spoil the opposition by breaking the ball on kickouts rather than trying to actually catch them. It may sound simple, but by shutting down a powerful Monasterevan spine they effectively robbed them of one of their key strengths.
Browne has been using Cavan native Jimmy Higgins as his spying eye this year, with his analysis of opposition to come proving very worthwhile throughout the season. He has his homework done on Shamrocks, whose main threat will be Offaly senior star Nigel Dunne who has been in scintillating form up front for the Faithful County side this year.
“Jimmy has been looking at them and he has a good eye for analysing teams,” Browne explained to the Kildare Post.
“They obviously have Nigel Dunne who is a very, very good forward. I would have seen him playing for Offaly and he played for St Sylvesters in Dublin. He’s both footed; he can win his own ball, and he can shoot on sight – he’s going to be the best forward we’re going to come up against this year. He’s a senior intercounty forward – and a scoring senior intercounty forward, so he’s going to be a massive challenge for us.”
Offaly teams tend to be strong from at the Senior B and Intermediate levels due to fact that there are only eight teams in the Senior Football Championship, thus ensuring that their second and third tier sides are quite strong.
Shamrocks are a highly rated side from within their own county, and they were considered as strong contenders for provincial honours from the moment they lifted the Senior B title in Offaly.
“These guys would be maybe the sixth to eighth ranked team in Offaly and we’re ranked 16th, 17th or 18th in Kildare, so from that point of view they’ll have a lot more lads with experience playing senior club football and that gives them an advantage,” noted Browne.
“Also, they’re down the road from the pitch where we’re going to play them next week and we’ll have to familiarise ourselves very quickly with a pitch that we’ve never played in.”
Two Mile House are bidding to become one of those rare clubs to win provincial titles at two different grades in the space of a few years, with their only travails in the Leinster Championship bringing them a Junior title five years ago.
That young team is now more experienced and forms the nucleus of the current side, and Browne is convinced that making waves on the provincial scene would set his side up well for a crack at senior football in Kildare next year.
His team didn’t begin training hard until April this year, using the league as a pre-season competition ahead of a tilt at the championship, and hoping that they would peak as the year approached its business end.
“When we won the All-Ireland junior I think five of our forward line were 18,” noted Browne.
“We had an extremely young team. Traditionally, when a club go well in the All-Ireland junior and they get their act together in the intermediate they do quite well at that level too. We went back training in April and the target at the start of the year was to be winning game in December.
“That’s where we were, to make sure that we were fresh around August and September to get over the line in Kildare and hopefully keep pushing on. That’s always been the goal and I think we have the players that are capable of playing at senior club level. I remember when we were junior, I was thinking if you want to win an Intermediate Championship you’d want to be winning an All-Ireland or provincial at junior, and I’d be thinking the same when you’re an intermediate club that you’d want to be going as far as you can to have any impact at senior level.”
On Saturday, the meticulous nature of their preparation will be tested by a very proficient Shamrocks side, but Two Mile House have at least got the experience of what it takes to win Leinster titles.
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