The Boston Northeast Championship Finals take place next weekend and what a treat it promises to be. The senior football championship has been the nest in recent memory both in terms of competitiveness and the quality of the games, while senior hurling once again as been so close that all four teams were still in it after the full round of games were played. In fact, it took a second playoff game to separate Tipperary and Fr. Tom Burke’s for the semi-final place. The addition of Connacht Ladies to the ladies senior football championship brought new life to ladies football in Boston, and once again the Ladies Football Final promises to be an exciting affair at 1:30 on Sunday.
Senior Football Final – Shannon Blues v Donegal
Donegal have been the talk of the town since early in the year and for good reason. The northerners have a team that is laden with talent and will be hard to beat. From Peter Boyle in goal to Derek Maguire at corner forward the side is well balanced. When you add in the intercounty credentials of former All-Star Kevin Cassidy in the half back line, the Louth trio of Brian Donnelly, Brian White, and Derek Maguire, and Westmeath star Dessie Dolan in the forward line, there is much to be confident about for Donegal supporters. Donegal are not invincible however, and were beaten by the Wolfe Tones in the O’Brien Cup Final earlier in the year. The Donegal men will face a stiff challenge from Aidan McAnespies/Shannon Blues and cannot let their guard down if they are to win their second senior football championship in three years.
Shannon Blues find themselves in a senior football final for the first time since the Irish Cultural Center opened in 1999. This years team have won each and every game and face their toughest test yet in the final. The Blues are a fit side and play a nice brand of passing football. The Blues full forward line of Kerry U-21, Kieran Hurley and Armagh county footballer, Caolan Rafferty will be a handful for any team. There will be plenty of quality supply coming from further outfield. David Dineen, Sean Moriarty and James Hynes use the ball well, while at the back Ross O’Callaghan and Brian Curran form part of a mobile, energetic back line. A championship for the Blues will be sweet, especially after the hard work put in over the last few years with little or no reward.
Senior Hurling Final – Galway v Tipperary or Wexford
Galway are in their second consecutive senior hurling final. After a decade on the wane Galway have come back and are just one step away from following up on last season’s championship victory. The team is captained by John Moylan who has put in some determined display’s this season. An impressive half back line is anchored by Stephen Nolan who has represented Wexford, and with Birr man, Brian Watkins on one side and Seamus Corry on the other, Galway have a solid anchor trio. The arrival of players with the credentials of Cian McBride and Liam Rushe from Dublin give Galway plenty of attacking punch. Eoin Guinan, another carry over from last year embodies the spirit of the Galway team. The Kilkenny man takes the free taking duties and is capable of putting some exquisite scores over the bar from play. Galway, it they hit form on Sunday, will be hard to beat and should they win will be hoping to go one better this yar and take the North American title in Philadelphia.
Tipperary also are enjoying the services of some top quality hurling from Ireland’s capital. Kevin O’Loughlin and Bill O’Carroll of Kilmacud Crokes have been playing a starring role for Tipperary. O’Carroll in the back line and O’Loughlin at the other end. Club stalwarts, John Roche, Andy McRedmond, John Kindregan, and Cronin Dempsey have been the backbone of the team, and Aidan Callinan’s arrival has added to that home-based depth.. Alan Hannigan mans the half back line and the UCC hurler has been solid all season. In addition, Middleton man Paul Haughey and John Wall are threats in the forward line, while Brian Hartnett, who has intercounty experience with Cork can come in off the bench and make a major impact. Tipp would love to win the title of old rivals, Galway, and will need to be firing on all cylinders to do so.
Wexford have a chance at a place in the final thanks to some gritty performances from the Brighton based team. The Slaneysiders have a solid keeper in Ed Spruhan. The former Carlow senior hurler has a cool head and does not lose it when all around him are losing theirs. The side is laced with talent from the southeast of Ireland, Kilkenny, Carlow, and of course, Wexfordmen included. Brian Dalton and Tom Maloney in the back line have played at minor and U-21 with Kilkenny, while up front Inishtoige native, Eoghan Kavanagh has won honors at Intermediate County level with The Cats. In the forward line Kevin Sheerin hails from the other end of the country and has hurled at county level with Antrim, while Carlow men Paudie Kehoe and Paul Coady also raise the danger level up front. Wexford feel that they have a lot to prove this year, and will be up for it.