AIB All-Ireland Club SFC Semi-Final:
Pádraig Pearses v Kilmacud Crokes at Kingspan Breffni Park, Cavan
Saturday at 5 pm
Having secured a first ever Connacht club title in splendid fashion two weeks ago, Pádraig Pearses now enter the rarefied atmosphere of the All-Ireland series with a chance to appear in the biggest game in club football at Croke Park on February 13th.
On the face of it, this is a huge task for Pat Flanagan’s men, but Pearses have shown a gritty resilience allied to some very astute and effective play throughout this championship. They are very well organised and are certainly in with a big chance of causing an upset here.
Manager Flanagan says that there is a quiet confidence running through his squad after their Connacht title win.
“It has been a great achievement for this group of players to have won two county titles and a provincial title in the past three years, but I keep saying that I feel there is far more in this Pearses team,” he told People Sport.
Pat knows what to expect from the Dublin and Leinster champions: “Kilmacud are a serious team and are well able to manage a tight situation. They got out of a tight corner against St. Jude’s in the Dublin final and they were excellent against Portarlington and Naas in Leinster. They are very fit, they move the ball quickly, and they have plenty of experienced players”.
However, the Clara native says that if Pearses play to their potential it could be another big day for the club.
Pearses have been given a clean bill of health going into this game and the entire squad travelled to Breffni Park for a run-out last weekend.
Therefore, we can expect to see a familiar line-up this Saturday, backboned by the four Daly brothers, Davy Murray, Hubert Darcy and the Cartys.
Much has been made of the absence of Paul Mannion from the Kilmacud line-up but even though the six-time All-Ireland winner is a class act, the Leinster champions have several very talented players, most of whom boast inter-county experience with Dublin. Ross McGowan at full-back and Rory O’Carroll at centre half-back are top class performers in defence.
At midfield, all eyes will be on the clash between Conor and Niall Daly and Kilmacud’s Craig Dias and Conor Casey, while further upfield, Tom Fox, Dara Mullin, and Callum Pearson have assumed scoring responsibilities in the absence of Mannion.
Kilmacud will be heavy favourites to reach another All-Ireland decider – but if Pearses can remain in the mix until the latter stages then all bets are off.
Pat Flanagan says that if Pearses are to win they will have to play better that they have in any game in this championship so far. It could be a tall order against such quality opposition. Going into a game like this as rank outsiders will suit Pearses perfectly – and they have a great chance.
Prediction: Pádraig Pearses.
Note: The game will be shown live on TG4.