Tradition and past performances will not be a factor in this year’s Senior County Final as the two finalists, Maghery and Armagh Harps are two of four teams who have dominated league and championship these past four years.
This is Armagh Harps third final appearance in that time and they’re hoping for a case of third time lucky, having lost out in those previous two finals. For holders, Maghery it’s a second final appearance after achieving an historic first senior title last year. Although Maghery are listed as favourites, it promises to be an open final as each team feels they can beat the other.
Both teams had relatively easy round one wins before being severely tested in the next three rounds, with Harps meeting St Patrick’s, Cullyhanna three times on a five game run to the final while Maghery endured one less yet had to overcome Crossmaglen twice to reach the final.
Both are avowed attacking teams and each is capable of high scores, goals and points, with Maghery hitting 7-56 in four games and Harps landing 8-88 in five games. Both teams are potent finishers with Harps having a greater capacity for more scores from more players than Maghery as well as a better ‘eye’ for grabbing goals.
For their part, Maghery have a tighter defence, harder to garner scores against, based on a longer established defensive set-up. Harps appear to have rectified any defensive frailties in both their recent quarter and semi-final ties. It is, however, holders Maghery who have the ‘ace in the pack’ i.e the best performing midfield pairing of the entire championship to-date thus committing Harps to consider how to deal with that sector.
There have been four players whose performances have dominated this year’s championship and to will play today as Stephen Cusack and Declan McKenna have been outstanding for their respective clubs all Championship. Both teams are led by experienced, astute, calm thinkers on the game and each has played at the highest level and Shane McConville (Maghery) and John Toner (Harps) will have their teams in prime readiness for the final.
Yes, each has deficiencies that the other can exploit but, in essence, there is little between the teams, thus, any of the two can win Sunday’s game and I’ll leave it at that! Sincere good luck to both teams in the final.
By John Morrison