Leinster Club Championship Finals
Compiled by SEAN MORAN
Ballymun Kickhams (Dublin) v Portlaoise (Laois)
Cusack Park Mullingar, 1.45
A TIGHT call between two evenly-matched teams. Portlaoise have the advantage of experience, having won the title three years ago. Club championship however has traditionally not always rewarded experience when it’s pitched against the momentum of a new team making a first-time impact.
On the face of it the relative performances against the Kildare and Longford champions gives an edge to Ballymun who dismissed Sarsfields comfortably enough in the end whereas Portlaoise were put through the wringer by Killoe.
But the defeat of the Kildare side didn’t disguise an uneven display and how bereft Sarsfields were after Alan Smith’s departure, which fed into a litany of wides.
The Dublin champions are mobile and good coming forward and have in Dean Rock a reliable free-taker.
Portlaoise were impressive in recovering what at times looked a match that was getting away from them. They have a good spread of players but there is a dynamism about Ballymun from Philip McMahon at full back through the James McCarthy-Davy Byrne centrefield and up to Rock and Ted Furman in the full forwards and although Portlaoise, with a defence that was unusually flustered the last day and needed a super save from Michael Nolan to stay in the game, will easily punish a below-par display, the Dublin side can rise to the occasion.
Oulart-The Ballagh (Wexford) v Kilcormac-Killoughey (Offaly)
Nowlan Park, 2.0
Kilcormac have the advantage of a low-key arrival having defeated Laois champions in the semi-final three weeks ago while Oulart were contending with postponement and favourites Ballyhale. But despite their more imposing CV this year, the Wexford champions are conscious that having eliminated the Kilkenny champions last year they weren’t able to replicate that form in the final.
The Offaly side have the physique to cope with conditions and Dan Currams and Peter Geraghty were clinical with their goals but they were pushed all the way by Errill Rathdowney.
There’s a belief if Oulart start well they’re halfway there but that didn’t apply in last year’s final and they’ve been more used to tussles this season with one-point wins against Kilmacud and Ballyhale. They are about as motivated as a team and are well set up at the back with Keith Rossiter and Darren Stamp back-boning the defence and the menace of Rory Jacob up front. They can deliver a long-awaited title.