There’s always a certain amount of caution and cupped whispering when it comes to whether a team genuinely wants to progress in the provincial campaign at this time of the year.
The hard work of succeeding at county level is done and dusted and a long season has the fag end bonus of a tilt at a Leinster title.
The talk was quiet around Haggardstown and Blackrock after the intermediate final win over St Brides. Nobody was willing to suggest that Geraldines were going to make a concerted run for the Leinster crown.
Of course anybody that knows boss Eamon McEneaney knows that he leaves very little to chance and luck. As he spoke after Sunday’s quarter final win over St Malachy’s of Westmeath, the Monaghan man let slip his full intent and indeed the amount of preparation he’s putting in to the provincial showpiece.
“I was actually down there (at St Fintans of Wexford) last weekend watching them”, revealed McEneaney, “so I’ve sort of an idea of what they’re like. They’re a youngish team with a few older players like ourselves, but pretty much a young side.
“Jody Wadding had a hell of a game last week. I’d be aware of him from the Wexford panel. But certainly we’ll be going down to it with a great chance I feel and they’ll be in the same boat. But it’s a great chance for us to get to a Leinster final.”
Getting to that final will require an improved display no doubt. But McEneaney sees a real confidence and steely resolve emerging within his young side. They showed enough strength of character to halt St Malachy’s as they started to claw back into the match last Sunday.
“I think that goes back to all the games during the year that we’ve been under pressure and helped build up the confidence”, agreed the former Louth manager. “Lads that maybe in previous years might have fell back and tried to defend deep, I think this year they’ve learned that we need to push on and if you get a set back you need to answer it straight away and we did that at various times throughout the championship and I think that experience has stood to them, they’ve grown up a bit this year.”
There’s little doubt now that captain Jim McEneaney will return this season. His 2013 looks as good as over and his father admitted as much. Yet that big loss can be viewed as a potential positive according to McEneaney.
“He’s had to or three different injuries to deal with and I can’t see it. he won’t be playing next Sunday, so again obviously the lads would rather have him there as I would, but the reality is that he’s not and somebody else sees it as their opportunity and they are all battlling and working for each other.”
A potential banana skin was always in the offing last Sunday against the Westmeath representatives. Geraldines were cold and had little game time in the previous two weeks. It was something McEneaney was well aware of, but it was difficult to remedy.
“The lack of a competitive game did have a baring”, nods the former Monaghan boss. “We were supposed to play the Mairtins last weekend, but unfortunately they had that terrible tragedy (the death of Shane Whelan) and there was no one else available. All the teams were out last weekend in the Ulster club or the Leinster club. So there wasn’t anybody elase apart from college teams, which is hard for us to get our fellas out for during the week, because there’s twenty-something of them at college.”
As he looked back at last Sunday’s game he was content with the win, but the will to win rather than the performance was the big bonus for Geraldines.
“Overall we’re very pleased we got through. It wasn’t a great performance. But we showed enough class and enough determination and the penalty incident was a great example of that, in the first place for Baz (Hamilton) to win it, he’s not one hundred per cent fit, but he put his body on the line to win, and then in the second case that we didn’t give up on it when it was missed, to follow it in and pressure it to get Stephen Reidy to score it.”
Last Sunday saw Johnny Breen display both sides of his game - a wonderful finisher and creater of chances, however he missed a hatful on the day, something out of character for the man according to McEneaney.
“He’s one of the best finishers in Louth, but it just wasn’t his day today, but he could have ended up with two or three goals today.
“The pleasing thing for me was that we created so many chances, obviously it’s disappointing that we didn’t take more, but we still scored 3-11 and I think we created 35 or so scoring chances.”
St Fintan’s Profile
St Fintan’s pulled off a minor surprise in the Wexford Intermediate final in Wexford Park this year when for the second year in succession they won a county football title.
Last year they claimed the Intermediate A crown and this year defeated a more fancied St James side in the Intermediate Final.
County star Joey Wadding had missed a penalty half way through the second half but scored a fantastic point in injury time from past midfield to put his side three points ahead on the day and secure the Lodgewood Engineering Intermediate Football title on a scoreline of 0-10 to 0-7.
One to watch
At 27-years-old Wadding is an experienced inter county corner back who can srping forward just as much as he can defend with integrity.
Broke into the Wexford team in 2009 and has been a regular starter since. Wee County fans will remember him from his performance against Louth this year in the league in Drogheda. Wexford won out 2-13 to 2-9 that day thanks to a great attacking display from Shane Roche. Wadding played no part in the championship clash between the sides in June this year as he was in America.
The forward will also be a potential menace for Geraldines.
The St Fintans forward has impressed more in soccer with the likes of St Patrick’s Athletic, Drogheda and Waterford United than in Gaelic football.
But he was deservedly awarded the Man of the Match accolade after thie year’s Wexford intermediate final victory over St James.