With sixteen down to eight, we’re back in action with the Intermediate B championship this weekend. Of the eight remaining, on paper, there appears to one stand out favourite.
Seven of the eight teams ply their trade in league Division 3 or 4. Scoil Uí Chonail, however, are not alone in Division 2, but as things stand, they lie in fifth place. They’ll have to feel confident. It’s not beyond reason that they’ll be a Division 1 side next year. Their 4-13 to 2-2 scalping of Erin’s Isles’ second team in the last round serves as warning to those who lie in wait.
Saying that, however, there are others who’ll feel quietly confident. Round Towers Lusk are on the crest of a wave. Promoted from Division 5 last year, they’ve gone on a clean sweep in Division 4, winning fifteen from fifteen with a staggering average winning margin of almost ten points per game. They’re only a Division Four side in name.
After being decimated by a recession fuelled exodus of players, Clann Mhuire are now back where they will feel they belong, in Division 3. And even more than that, they’ve qualified for the promotion play-offs with a game to spare.
And Ballyboughal, last year’s beaten finalists, will probably feel that they should be there in the play-offs too, for the second year running. This side has been stronger than ever since Lar Lynch transitioned from player to manager in 2015. They’d most likely be headed for the Division 3 play-offs for the second year running had they not had the misfortune of playing their opening game against a a Ballyboden second team a three weeks before the Senior club All-Ireland final and their second against a Vincent’s second team who boasted two newly transferred inter-county seniors in their ranks.
So all things considered, it’s not beyond reason that Scoil could/could have been facing Boughal or Clan Mhuire in Division Two next year. And the way Lusk are looking, it’s not beyond reason that they could be facing them in league football in 2018!
Barróg nor Garda have the league form that would suggest that either would be likely to win a championship with a team over twenty league places ahead of them, but neither could be written off either.
Though no spring chickens, Barróg are a clever and experienced team who have the nous to dictate the rhythm of a game to teams who, on paper, look far superior to them. Their league ambush in May against a Fingallians side who have averaged a 14 point per game superior points tally to them, is testament to that.
The league positioning of Garda might not inspire confidence either but, they were only narrowly beaten by Division 2 Croke’s in the first round, so they can’t be so far off the mark.
Despite being one of only two remaining side who will play in Division 4 next season, Lucan Sarsfields’ shouldn’t be written off either. Remember rule number one of Intermediate and Junior Championships. Never write off a second team. You simply never know what they’re going to bring to the table. Especially not one who could potentially have senior hurlers to come into the mix (either playing or relegating other first team panelists to the second team for championship).
Looking at St. Margarets’ league position, just ahead of the Division 4 relegation pack, it’s difficult to see how they’d make the leap to beat a host of teams twenty and up to 35 league positions ahead of them, but if they can get past Barróg, throw a north county derby or two into the mix, and anything could happen. Saying that, you’d probably have to fancy Barróg’s experience to be the difference when the two sides meet.
As for Garda and Lucan, it’s as much a guessing game as to which players end up available for the respective sides on the day. It would be foolhardy to nail your colours to the mast on this one. Forced to call….I wouldn’t. You just couldn’t say. And after Lucan’s first team being my bogey prediction team in 2014, I dare not bet against them without knowing what they’ll have!
The local derby with Boughal and Lusk, that pits some lads who played minor together, is the most mouth watering tie of the quarters. Lusk will be chomping at the bit to take down the neighbouring parish who they’ve been looking up at since Boughal’s rise to Division 3. With a hundred percent league record the Tower’s men may well feel their time has come. With a full side, however, you’d have to fancy Boughal to have a bit more. On his day, All-Ireland under 21 winner, Gerry Seaver, can be simply unstoppable at this level.
And if there’s a team that can knock Scoil off their perch, it’s probably Clann Mhuire. Teak tough and in flying form, they’re not a side that anybody will want to have drawn. Based on league form, these are the top two contenders in the championship.
It’s certainly not beyond reason that the Naul players’ physicality could get under the skin of the Scoil lads and I certainly wouldn’t call this one with any massive confidence. Saying that, with a dominant fielding midfield and a slick moving team all round, you’d still have to fancy the Clontarf men to get over the line.
And if they get past this one, currently a full league ahead of the next side in the championship, you’d have to fancy them to go all the way.
By: Stephen O’Meara