IT took two games to decide last season’s Intermediate Championship clash between St Peter’s and Wolfe Tones who meet again as part of double header this Sunday at Clann Eireann Park.
Ironically it would appear that the roles have been reversed. On this occasion the Whites now find themselves staring down the barrel of relegation, a scenario which the Cash side found themselves in 2012.
Both sides are under new management and although Whites boss Collie Keegan, who stepped in when Steven McVeigh parted company with the Freecrow Club in the early part of the season, is no stranger to the job, his Tones counterparts Mickey Devlin and Oliver Cormican had to negotiate a quick learning curve when they brought a new brand of tactics to the Derrymacash club.
St Peter’s have been the nearly team of the top flight this season. The whites suffered several narrow defeats against top sides, yet showed their growing capabilities with a rousing win over Whitecross recently, The North Street Club have a huge squad which is particularly young and they will be greatly boosted by the return of Armagh player Niall McConville who started his first full game against St Paul’s a fortnight ago.
It wouldn’t be a surprise to see McConville wearing the number 11 jersey against the Tones. Collie Keegan will be keen to give him time on the ball following his return to create openings for front men like Darren Moore and Danny McNally.
St Peters for the first time this season will be at full strength. Midfielder Aaron Findin is thriving in the first division. The former county midfielder is maturing rapidly and is well supported from the back by defenders Sean O’Neill, Robbie Geary, Sam Marshall, Keith Totten and Emmett Haughian.
As for the Tones their new management team have quickly put their own stamp on tactics this season. The Cash side have employed a defensive strategy which is hard to break down and space could be at a premium in Clann Eireann Park on Sunday.
Wolfe Tones will build at pace from the back. Ruairi McCaughley, the excellent Ryan McQuillan and county player Finnian Moriarty will all attempt to stifle the slick Whites attack who eventually pulled clear of a tenacious Tones team in last season’s Championship replay. St Peter’s went on to contest the final against Killeavey and they have shown glimpses of top form in the first division this year.
Tactically this game could be the most enthralling of all three Championship encounters this weekend, The tie raises more questions than answers. Although the Tones will defend in big numbers will they score enough to trouble St Peters? A Whites side with a little bit more power up front and a bigger scope for creativity should be good enough to progress.