AIB All-Ireland Intermediate Football Championship Final: Michael Glavey’s (Roscommon) v Moy Tir na nÓg (Tyrone) on Saturday in Croke Park at 3.45 pm
After a momentous journey which has taken them through Roscommon, Connacht, and a hard-fought All-Ireland semi-final against the Leinster champions Kilanerin, Michael Glavey’s, the club formed in the 1950s by the late Peader Earley, face the biggest day in their history when they contest the All-Ireland intermediate final against Moy of Tyrone this Saturday.
Glavey’s follow in the footsteps of St. Croan’s who got to this stage a few years ago but were beaten in the decider. On the evidence of what we have seen in the championship so far, Glavey’s have a great chance of winning the title.
Going into this game Iain Daly will know that his team can play a lot better than they showed against the Wexford champions last Saturday. Moy have an outstanding midfield, and Caoileann Fitzmaurice and John Finan will have to get at least an even break there to give the Roscommon champions a platform.
But there is much for Glavey’s to be positive about. Several times last Saturday they were under the cosh only to respond magnificently. The form of their young guns like Dylan Ruane, Stephen Comer and Cathal Heneghan was a revelation, and hopefully Andy Glennon can weave his magic again in this final. He never gave up the ghost last Saturday, even when he was not having much luck. His role will be pivotal. He can be the Glavey’s star in this final.
The leadership that was shown last Saturday from Darren O’Malley, Shane O’Malley, Gary Patterson and team captain Conor Hussey was superb and they will need that again this weekend.
Not having seen much of Moy, it is difficult to assess their form but a view of the recording of their semi-final win against An Gaeltacht last Saturday reveals many unsurprising characteristics that are often associated with Ulster and Tyrone teams over the years. They are a battle-hardened and very physical side who may not have a lot of finesse but who will be very hard to defeat.
They looked to have been well beaten by the Kerry side in that semi-final and had just managed 0-3 in 60 minutes of football. But in injury-time they scored 1-2, with both Cavanagh brothers, Colm and Sean, heavily involved as Harry Loughren scored a goal and a point to break the hearts of the men from The Kingdom. Talk about ‘smash and grab’!
The Ulster champions rely heavily on the Cavanagh brothers. Colm plies his trade at midfield while Sean operates at full-forward but will come out the field if needed – but needless to say Moy are not a two-man operation. They are very strong down the middle, where Tomas McNicholl is a very impressive full-back.
Niall Conlon leads the Moy defence from centre-back and Mark Gribbin and Eunan Deeney are very effective at wing half-back. Colm Cavanagh will be partnered at midfield by Tom Loughran and they are very strong in this area.
Sean Cavanagh is the spiritual leader of this Moy team. He will probably start at full-forward but will come out to midfield if needed. He is a magnificent player. Watch out too for centre half-forward Harry Loughran, who has been very prominent thus far in this championship.
One worry that I have is that this is an experienced Moy team and hopefully the big occasion will not be too much for what is a very young Glavey’s side.
In addition, Tyrone teams have a reputation for being very cynical when they get to this stage of a competition. Hopefully that will not be the case here, but Glavey’s will need to be ready for it. Hopefully there will be a strong referee to watch (and hear) anything that is going on in that regard.
Make no mistake; this will be a very tough assignment for the men from Granlahan, Gortaganny, Cloonfad and Ballinlough. However, they have been through a number of very tough games to get here. They scraped through the county final against Fuerty before playing some great football against the Mayo and Galway champions in Connacht. It was back to a real battle last Saturday against Kilanerin and that they emerged victorious after such a battle says a lot about their character.
I am ever so impressed with Iain Daly and the way he has managed this Glavey’s team so far. I have no doubt that he will have a plan to deal with the threat posed by Moy and the Cavanaghs in particular.
The whole of Roscommon will be behind Glavey’s on Saturday and with the great Dermot Earley and many other Glavey’s greats looking on from on high, it will be a day that will bring a tear to the eye of many a former club player and member as they see their jerseys out on Croke Park on All-Ireland final day.
Moy start as favourites, and on experience alone they probably deserve to as well. But Glavey’s’ youth and fitness can be a factor in the wide open spaces of Croke Park. If they can avoid being drawn into a dogfight, which would suit Moy, Glavey’s have a great chance.
We have seen that Glavey’s can play some great football. If they can keep the ball moving and get supply into Andy Glennon and Cathal Heneghan there is no reason why they cannot make history and bring the trophy back to the Roscommon-Mayo border. It would be some achievement and it is entirely possible.
Prediction: Michael Glavey’s.