Garveys Supervalu SHC S/F Preview

garveylogo_web.jpgBy Timmy Sheehan for kerrygaa.ie
Ballyduff v Lixnaw
When these two teams met in last years final, nine points separated the teams. When they met again, in the first round of this year's competition, that margin had doubled to eighteen.
Since then Lixnaw, have turned their season, around, with wins over St. Brendan's and Kilmoyley.
In the process, they have displayed a lot of character and self belief, with the result, that Ballyduff are no longer seen as the overwhelming favourites to retain their title.

Certainly, they will be fancied and indeed strongly so, by some people, but, with the prospect of Padraig Boyle, almost certain to be an absentee, the pendulum has swung a little if not fully in favour of Lixnaw.

The Ballyduff teenager, probably the best talent to emerge in Kerry in over a decade, was to a large extent, singularly the reason, why Ballyduff won so comfortably in the first round game. His final tally of 3-1 in their previous meeting having retired early in the second half is testament to his sizeable input to proceedings on that occasion. His loss will be enormous, as indeed is the continuing absence of Mike Conway for Lixanw.
Both of these sides have won Championship titles, twice in the last decade.

Lixnaw have also contested two more and with some of their players having been involved on all four occasions they are quite seasoned and experienced.
Ballyduff even without Padraig Boyle, have probably more flair and a better scoring spread. However, Lixnaw despite, a dependence on James Flaherty for scores, are quite resilient and extremely competitive. It would be extremely unwise to rule out Lixnaw on this occasion but Ballyduff, would have to be slightly fancied, if they can curtail James Flaherty. That factor, could be the key to the eventual outcome.

Crotta O'Neills v Ballyheigue

Ballyheigue, last won the title in 2000, beating Ballyduff in the final, and in the process, completed a tally of four title wins, during that particular decade.

Crotta's last involvement in a final was in 1999, when they were beaten by Lixnaw, having been beaten by Causeway the previous year in the decider.

So with the emergence of Kilmoyley with six title wins in the last ten years, these two Clubs, have rarely been at the business end of the competition, for over a decade.

This year to date, Ballyheigue, have been extremely competitive, beating Causeway by five points and Abbeydorney by two. Certainly, there was a lot to admire about their fitness, and their application in all quarters of the pitch.

However, the bulk of their scoring returns, has been provided by Mike Slattery who has contributed 2-11 from a tally of 3-16 Crotta, outclassed against Kilmoyley, mixed, some excellent play with periods of indifference, in both of their games against Causeway and Abbeydorney.

So, they've reached, this stage of the competition, with a lot of question marks still hanging over them. Ultimately, this level of inconsistency could prove to be their undoing. It's difficult to pinpoint, even for those close to the team, why a feast is being followed by a famine.

In this regard, Ballyheigue, have been performing with a lot more consistency in their games. Much will depend on the input at opposite ends of the pitch of Shane Nolan and Mike Slattery and the need for both sides, to concede very few frees.

Both will feel with some justification, that they have the ability to progress to the final, a little more so, maybe Ballyheigue, given the doubts which must exist in the Crotta camp However, despite all of the question marks, I still fell Crotta, might well shade a tight contest.