County JFC Final
Annascaul vs. Castlegregory
Sunday 29 August
Austin Stack Park, 2:30 p.m.
Any other year, any other final, we wouldn’t be so short on words. We would be in good shape to continue. The semi-final rosters to go. Potential match-ups to consider. Eleven months into the penultimate stages of this competition, however, it doesn’t seem as relevant to the task at hand: trying to figure out who could win this weekend.
At least we have some form of County League to try to formulate some sort of case theory, but it’s been almost a month now since these matches have been played and as Stephen Wallace explains in an interview with us this week, whatever momentum generated from these games has long been lost.
Sadly, from Castlegregory’s perspective, much of the reason is a Covid outbreak that has affected up to fourteen of its players. This meant the club couldn’t prepare as fully for this game as they would have liked, with training suspended for a fortnight in the midst of preparing for this game.
That would seem to suit Annascaul, who, if this game were played in September or October, would have already been considered the warmest of the favorites. So this is it then? Annascaul are the big favorites of this weekend? If only it was that easy. Annascaul didn’t like the four week break between the end of the league and this final much and they aren’t in as strong a position as they were at this time last year.
The absence of Cathal Ferriter, transferred to the Dundalk Young Irelands – the Beaufort club beat a few years ago on their way to their junior All Ireland title – has affected the team’s balance. Annascaul boss David Clifford – the Ardfert native rather than the Fossa native – has hinted that he probably won’t appear this weekend, but we wouldn’t be at all surprised if he did.
Clifford’s biggest concern is his injury list. If a handful of those he lists in the interview he gave us on Monday can’t come, then the blues and whites will be in trouble this weekend. Still, you have to regard them as favorites overall.
After all, they were playing in Division 2 this year and once again retained their status. It is true that Castlegregory’s league form is impressive and is poised to be promoted to Division 3 if they saw the Skellig Rangers in their promotion shoot-off, but even with heavy losses along the way, running at this higher level, should suit Annascaul.
Once they beat Tarbert in the semifinals last year – Castlegregory got the better of Beale – Annascaul was the favorite. A lot of water has flowed under the bridge since then, but we’re still inclined to give them the green light as long as those injuries go away and as long as Ferriter can play a role this weekend.