What do you see as Rathdowney-Errill’s strengths and weaknesses?
For me the two main strengths of Rathdowney-Errill are their defence and athleticism. They have a very experienced set of six defenders who rarely get pulled out of position and are very solid in their shape around Pat Mahon at centre-back.
They also have real experience in all six spots as they have all played for Laois at the highest level. The second key strength of Rathdowney-Errill is their athleticism around the field. Very few teams have the pace and power that they posses at club level. This means that they can create overlaps all over the park and have the ability to score goals if a player switches off anywhere for the opposition.
As a weakness they have a few key players that are on the wrong side of thirty which may be a factor in the final few moments. Those years may also be crucial with the experience of winning tight games.
What do you see as Clough-Ballacolla’s strengths and weaknesses
Ballacolla’s two main attributes for me would be their ‘fire power’ in attack and ability in the air. Up front Clough-Ballacolla have three current inter-county forwards of which two are probably the best in the county at present. On their day, these two alone could win a fixture but they are aided by some of the best club players over the past few years on form.
In tight games it is generally these less heralded players that can pull a team through and get key scores. The match ups that Rathdowney-Errill decide to take in defence will be key. The second element of Clough-Ballacolla’s play that is key for them is their ability to win primary possession in the air.
This is very prominent in the middle third and even players who are under six foot are very capable to win their own ball. One of Clough-Ballacolla’s main worries may be their form at present. They have not hit top gear yet but with the four week gap that can be turned around quickly.
Which player do you think will have the biggest influence on the game?
This is a real difficult question as there are so many current and past inter county players on both sides. For me the man that Rathdowney-Errill must shut down is Shane Hanlon at midfield.
He is currently in great form and provides an excellent link between defence and attack, and always chips in with a few scores. If Rathdowney-Errill can curb his influence they will dry up the supply to Clough-Ballacolla’s treat.
For Rathdowney-Errill much still lies on Liam Tynan’s shoulders and if he can get running at defenders then he will create space for those in the forward line around him.
Who do you think will win and why?
This is very tight and could be a cracking fixture if the tempo of the game is allowed run by referee.
With both teams on two county titles in recent years and it being a local derby then there should be some good physicality in it.
If Rathdowney-Errill can hold Willie and Picky to low scores I think that their hunger could sway it. Only just!