County Final Preview: Ballyduff v Lixnaw Is An Impossible One To Call

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Mike O’Halloran previews the Garveys SuperValu Kerry Senior Hurling Final this Sunday between Ballyduff and Lixnaw (3pm)…

High flying action during the game in July. Photo by Dermot Crean

Ballyduff face off against Lixnaw in the Garveys SuperValu Kerry Senior Hurling Final. This is the seventh time they meet in the final, in the previous six outing the boys from Ballyduff have come out on top.

In the semi-finals, Ballyduff were very impressive in the second half against the champions Kilmoyley, playing the best thirty minutes of hurling they have produced in years.

Lixnaw on the other hand struggled to overcome St Brendan’s and looked flat and rusty, I suppose that’s understandable given the huge gap between their semi-final and their last game.

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How it takes months to run off a competition with eight teams is beyond me, but that’s a story for another day.

Lixnaw will be hoping that their display against St Brendan’s was a cobweb clearing exercise and was just what they needed to enthuse their players for the challenge that Ballyduff will present.

Ballyduff will have learned that their efforts in the first half against Kilmoyley will not be good enough to overcome a Lixnaw team that will hope to regain the form they showed when they accounted for them in the opening rounds.

In round two Lixnaw scored 3-19 to 1-16 and looked like champions, Lixnaw have eleven different scorers to Ballyduff’s nine.

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Action from their encounter in July. Photo by Dermot Crean

Lixnaw will expect more from their players in the final, Shane Conway contributed a expected in the semis despite being double and triple tagged at times, young Brian McAuliffe who operated at midfield worked hard all day and forced his way in for a goal.

Up front Lixnaw were not firing on all cylinders they will expect more from their half forward line and will be hoping that Michael Conway will benefit from a further two weeks to recover from his knee injury.

At the back Brendan Brosnan was impressive and I thought Stephen Power was doing ok, Pat Corridon will be well up to the challenge of Ballyduff’s big men, the big question for Lixnaw is who will mind Padraig Boyle and Jack Goulding.

Lixnaw will be happy that Jeremy McKenna got a bit of hurling under his belt after his hand injury. Liam Mullins also got some game time.

One can make some stab at how the Lixnaw might line out but I guess we will have to wait until throw in to figure out who will start for Ballyduff. Martin Stackpoole is the county goalie and as well a being a great shot stopper he is a very astute play starter, his pucks out to Brendan Brosnan  in the semi final were pin point the last day.

Lixnaw will hope that Darragh Shanahan will recover from his injury to play some part.

Ballyduff must have been happy with their performance for thirty minutes in the semi-final, the return of Michael Boyle from suspension was a huge boost for them.

Jack Goulding proved to be the catalyst of their recovery in the second half as he roamed far and wide to gain possession, Padraig Boyle benefited from the ball breaking of Gary O’Brien.

Ballyduff have a senior star in the guise of Jack O’Sullivan, Jack’s arrival on the senior scene has been anticipated by Ballyduff followers since he was very young and he didn’t disappoint against Kilmoyley.

Jack will be quite a thorn in the side of Lixnaw expect a huge game from him on the big stage.

John Hussey will be sharper if he starts given the fact that he was away in Scotland for weeks prior to the last game.

Daniel O’Carroll returned from USA looking pretty sharp, David Goulding is having his best seasons in a while, on the other flank Ally O’Connor is using all his experience to full effect.

Padraigh O’Grady a winning captain with Ballyduff and is now operating at corner back, Eoin Ross is a dynamic at fullback he usually operates further from goal and was always good for a point or two.

Cathal Kearney has really grown into his role this year and provides great protection for the reliable PJ O’Gorman.

I haven’t mentioned the stand out man from the semi-finals, Paud Costello, who produced an exhibition of hurling from centre back which goes some way to prove the point made by Ballyduff folk, that if he was at full fitness last year Ballyduff may be going for two in a row this year.

Gary O’Brien did not start the last day but he will have an influence either starting or coming on.

The great Liam Boyle was also held in reserve. He was the man to bring Ballyduff back from the brink last year in the drawn final, so don’t expect him to to spend too long on the bench.

Impossible to call this one, Ballyduff will need to play for a full hour at the same intensity as their last thirty minutes against Kilmoyley to win and if Lixnaw regain their early season form they will win by a couple of points.

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