Shane’s can win the All-Ireland
Ulster Junior champions in 2013 with the eldest player on the team just 18 Shane O’Neill’s progress has been phenominal and at Parnell Park on Sunday Dec 4 the club can make even more history by winning the All-Ireland Intermediate title at the expense of Galway and Connacht champions, Annaghdown.
Shanes captured the Ulster Intermediate title following a goalfest with Fermanagh side Kinawley 8-07 to 6-09 final opponents Annaghdown held off a spirited comeback from Roscommon side Padraig Pearses who traailed 3-07 to 0-5 at half-time before losing out 4-9 to 2-10 in the Connacht final.
Indeed both of Sunday’s finalists entered their respective All-Ireland semi-finals as underdogs but Annaghdown disposed of Munster champions Abbeyside (Waterford) 1-08 to 0-06 in Waterford whilst Shanes cut through the Camlough fog to send London champions Parnells packing 3-07 to 1-10.
The All-Ireland semi-final hat-trick of goals from Aimee Mackin was the least amount of goals scored by Shanes on their journey to Parnell Park which began in July with a 7 goal haul against Killeavy followed by 8 against Crossmaglen and 6 against Sarsfields to be crowned County champions. In Ulster 5 followed against Carndonagh (Donegal) and 8 against Truagh (Monaghan) before 8 more in a 14 goal Ulster final extravaganza for a grand total of 43-80 in 7 games as opposed to 12-65 conceded.
While the Shanes scoring prowess has been their forte team managers Caoibhe Sloan and Peter Lynch with their backroom team of Aoibhin Osborne, Martina Devlin, Angela Jones and Conor McKeown are at pains in stressing that it’s a team effort with the terrific defensive set-up from goalkeeper Katie Daly to full backs Kristy Murphy, Emma Kenny, Caroline McMenamin combining with a half back line led by team Captain Louise Kenny flanked on either side by Hannah McMenamin and Clodagh Sloan that have also shone holding their 7 opponents to date to just 12-65 with 6 of those goals coming in one match.
But it is the midfield powerhouses of Shauna Grey and Blaithin Mackin that trigger all that’s good in Shanes as both an attacking and defensive side due to the amount of ground both cover during the course of a game.
Galway champions Annaghmore have also scaled the heights and defied the odds to reach Sunday’s final. Team manager Thomas Murphy and his backroom team of Fiona Wynne, Claire Coen, Richard McNicolas and Killian Deenihan will have their homework well done on Shanes by the time referee Seamus McNulty gets things under way at 1pm in Parnell Park next Sunday. Backboned by a strong midfield pairing of Erin Coyle and Nicola Burke Annaghdown have a few marquee forwards of their own Niamh Duggan, an All-Ireland winner with Galway in 2004 and lethal full forward Rachel King.
The midfield battle will be all important with possession of the ball key to be able to supply their attacking forces on either side. Shanes are well versed in gaining midfield supremacy when necessary by being able to commit more players to this sector as rising Armagh star and ace forward Aimee Mackin can operate all too well alone up front often occupying two and three markers at a time.
No doubt Aimee will attract a lot of attention from defenders Jemma Burke, Bronagh Quinn, Fiona Wynne, Chelsie and Chloe Crowe and Theresa Keane but this enables Aoife McCoy, Moya Feehan, Jessica Watters, Aoibheann Jones and Claire Garvey to confidently showcase their own talents as forwards and substantial contributers to date to Shanes path to the final.
There is no doubt that Shanes can be crowned All-Ireland champions but they will have to put on their best display to date to overcome a Galway side that will fight to the death. Hopefully all Armagh gaels will jump on the Shanes bandwagon and get to Parnell Park to lend their much needed vocal support in what is a momentus occasion for both Shanes and Armagh ladies football.
Galway Intermediate Championship
Annaghdown 1-08 Miltown 0-04
Annaghdown 2-20 Killanin 1-08
Annaghdown 2-11 Menlough-Skehanagh 1-10
Annaghdown 3-11 St Brendans 1-07
Annaghdown 2-09 Moycullen 1-10
Annaghdown 4-10 Fenagh (Leitrim) 0-01
Annaghdown 4-09 Padraig Pearses (Roscommon) 2-10
Annaghdown 1-08 Abbeyside (Waterford )0-06