Carna / Caiseal and Athenry provide a novel final pairingOctober 5, 2012 - 7:00am
THE Galway intermediate championship showdown this weekend has thrown up a novelty pairing of two teams who have never before contested a county decider at this grade.
Athenry are aiming to earn promotion to senior for the first time since the club won the county junior title 64 years ago; and Carna/Caiseal, also in their first ever intermediate final, are aiming to get back to the top tier of Galway football since they were relegated in 2005 just five days after they had lost a county senior final to Salthill/Knocknacarra.
Throw-in for the big showdown is 4pm at Pearse Stadium on Sunday.
Athenry, one of Galway’s traditional hurling strongholds, has been ‘out in the wilderness’ in terms of top-tier football in the county for decades now and hasn’t played senior since the late 1940s when the club’s junior team, led by captain Martin Feeney and vice-captain Willie Kenny, won the 1948 county title.
At that time, junior was the second tier of football in Galway and the winners of that championship earned promotion to senior; and while the club tasted success in a junior final in 1984, the competition was to celebrate the centenary of the GAA and didn’t come with promotion.
Carna/Caiseal, formed in 1985 and promoted to senior through the league in 2002, has been consistently performing well at the intermediate grade and has been ‘knocking on the door’ since that fateful 2005 season when they lost a senior county decider and, less than a week later, were relegated because of their form in the league.
Promoted from the junior to intermediate grade in 2008, Athenry struggled in the 2009 season winning only two games, just barely enough to keep them from relegation back to junior. Last year was Athenry’s best intermediate championship campaign to date which culminated in a five points defeat at the quarter-final stage, against Sunday’s Connemara opponents.
Managed by Timmy Rabbitte for the past three seasons, and his selectors Tom Flynn, Garvin McDaid and Peter Melia, Athenry have seemingly come out of nowhere this year with some shock results to reach the final, although their league form in which they’ve beaten most of what would be considered traditional football strongholds has bred confidence.
They defeated both senior finalists, Salthill/Knocknacarra’s and Corofin’s, second teams in the preliminary stages, as well as Dunmore McHales in the quarter-final, and many people’s favourites for promotion this year, Oughterard, in the semi-final, which they won 0-12 to 0-9 after a replay.
For more, read this week's Galway City Tribune.