If there is any competition that proves the power of momentum it is the Intermediate Football Championship in Kildare. Every year there are at least four or five teams capable of claiming the title, and it tends to be whichever sides can get on a roll and stay injury free that make it to the final. That is just the case this year, as two sides who have been steadily building throughout the year will meet in the final.
Monasterevan’s upturn in form has been truly remarkable however. Relegated from Division 2 in the league and losing their first couple of championship matches, it looked like 2018 was going to be a complete write off from their point of view. When tracing back to their first fixture in this year’s championship it is obvious to see the impact of momentum, whether it be positive or negative. Ballymore Eustace beat Monasterevan in the first game of the championship, but they went on to lose five games in a row which ultimately resulted in relegation to the junior ranks last Saturday. Contrast that with Monasterevan, who have won five and drawn one of their last six games in the championship, riding high on the back of renewed confidence and reaching this Sunday’s final.
Will momentum be enough to carry them through on Sunday however?
There were men in blue suffering from the toils of more than 80 minutes of really hard, heated championship action on Saturday. Players were dropping with cramp, DJ Earley went off injured before bravely returning to see out the game late on. Padraig Nash fell to the ground numerous times with injury before eventually having to take his place on the line late on. Eight days of a turnaround might be enough to rectify these knocks, but ice baths, cryogenic chambers and every modern age technique for recovery will surely be used over the break between the games.
If Monasterevan don’t launch a successful appeal to John O’Toole’s first half red card they will be missing their go-to marker in defence. The Kildare U20 star will undoubtedly be disappointed with his actions as he struck out at a member of the St Kevin’s management team in frustration right on front of a linesman. You would have to feel for the youngster as it raises the question of the ethics of the whole situation – the selector involved was John Casey and he was at least 30 metres from his bench and was probably too close to the ball when O’Toole fell over the line.
They could really do with having their strongest defence on the field against a vibrant Two Mile House attack that has a litany of threats. Chris Healy – despite not having his best game in the semi-final win over Nurney – will take some watching, while Aidan Casey has been motoring along nicely this year, racking up big scoring tallies on the way to the final. The running threat of a revitalised Peter Kelly at midfield, allied with the ability of Mark Sherry who can break lines, is one of the cornerstones of Two Mile House’s gameplan.
It is at the back where Two Mile House have been really superb this year. Nathan Sherry has been the standout marker in this year’s Intermediate Championship, moving back from his normal position at half-back to perform a man-marking role with exceptional diligence. He is likely to pick up either Padraig Nash or Wayne Fitzpatrick, and if he nullifies either of those threats it will go some way to winning this game for his side.
When these two teams met in the first round of the group stage the House came out with a seven-point win, but plenty has changed since then and Monasterevan are a much better side now.
The House have been knocking on the door for a few years now at this level, and if the occasion doesn’t get to them they should edge what will surely be an open and entertaining final.
Verdict: Two Mile House
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