STABANNON Parnells are hoping it is not a case of deja vu this year as they return to the scene of last year’s heartbreaking defeat in the Leinster Intermediate Club Championship final in which they lost narrowly to St Conleths after extra time.
This time though, they face Oldcastle of Meath in the final, but with the game taking place in the same ground (Clane – Sunday, October 30, 2pm) and around the same date as the 2010 decider, Stabannon’s ladies will be looking for a different scoreline this time round.
The Louth champions, who won the Louth League and Championship for a second year in a row go into the provincial decider in a confident mood following impressive showings against Killeen of Laois and Round Towers of Dublin.
In the opening game in the Leinster series, they swept aside the Laois champions on a scoreline of 4-15 to 0-7 which earned them a crack at Dublin side Round Towers in the semi-final.
In a much closer affair, the Parnells emerged victorious on a 0-10 to 0-5 scoreline.
During the nail-biting affair, things did not look too good for Panells midway through the second half as they led by 0-7 to 0-4, despite playing with a strong wind.
But the parish side managed to rack up another three scores and on the day, they produced a superb defensive performance in the second half, while the well timed introduction of subs Deirdre Lynch and Broonagh McGrane proved decisive in thwarting the Clondalkin side.
Their opponents in the final, Oldcastle of Meath have also shown good form in their outings as they beat Wexford’s St Fintan’s 3-14 to 1-4 in their opening match.
They then just edged out Grangenolvin (Kildare) by the narrowest of margins 2-10 to 3-6 whilst in last Saturdays semi-final they beat Westmeath Champions Milltown by 4-6 to 2-7.
They are mostly a young, fit and mobile side with a strong mid-field pairing of Kelly Allen and Eileen Rahill, while in attack they have in Bridgetta Lynch a skilled and experienced half forward.Sinead
Sinead Coyle and Shauna Conway and the experienced Catriona Keoghegan are other forwards who Stabannon will need to keep under close scrutiny. If there’s a weakness in the Meath side its most likely in the defence where they have looked vulnerable in their own county championship and have conceded five goals in their last two outings in the Leinster.
Stabannon manager Ciaran Marks and Barry Teather will hope to have Grace Rogers available. The powerful full forward picked up a leg injury in a recent Under-18 match and her inclusion would be a major boost.
A big support is sure to travel to the Kildare venue for this final which has a 2pm start in the hope that Stabannon can take a provincial club title back to Louth for the first time since 1999 when Cooley won this same championship.
Accoring to manager Ciaran Marks, a win for the ladies would be the best possible reward for a year of unprecedented hard work.
“We have worked with those girls since January and at times, it has been hard for them to come out in such bad weather and get on with it. But anything we threw at them, they responded well and never complained.
“We’ve a huge panel here, with two quality players fighting for every position so it makes the job a little easier having a selection headache like that.”
Marks and Teather came in at the start of the year when Stabannon were still smarting over last year’s final defeat. The first job of the new managers was to take their minds off it.
“We banned all talk of the Leinster Championship. There was no point talking about it as to get to the Leinster, you had to win your own Championship at local level so until we beat Roche in the final, we did not speak of it.”
In their first game, Louth bear Laois side Killeen followed by Round Towers of Dublin, two wins that would have boosted the morale of the camp.
“A Louth team beating Dublin does not happen very often so that was a great boost for us and Laois have a better history in ladies football than Louth so the wins have lifted the confidence in the camp.
“We did our homework on both sides and will have our homework done on Oldcastle so hopefully we can do it.
“Also, with the Louth Senior Championship Final on the same day, I know some neutrals will go to that, but we hope to have a big crowd down on the day.
“It’s very similar for the ladies this Sunday. It’s the same venue and around the same date as last year’s final, but hopefully this time the result will be different.”