The curtain comes down on another season of Junior Football in the midlands next Saturday when the final of the blue ribbon event the Combined Counties Cup takes place in Leah Victoria Park Tullamore at 5pm.
This season’s final is somewhat of a novel pairing when Birr Town take on Rosenallis and yet it sees two of the more traditional clubs in this competition face off against each other. During the 90’s, these two teams were very prominent. Rosenallis were beaten in the final in 1990 before reaching the holy grail in 1999, while Birr took home this famous old Cup in 1991 and 1997.
However since then, during the CCFL years, both teams have failed to make a real impression with Birr last reaching the final in 2000 and Rosenallis' best being two semi-final appearances, most recently last year.
Birr will start the game as clear favourites having finished the season very strongly to claim runners up spot in the Senior Division. They have also had the upper hand this season between the two teams as Rosenallis ended up being relegated from the Senior Division. That will count for little though when the game kicks off on Saturday as Rosenallis have shown that on their day they can be very competitive and then they are a match for anyone.
Birr go into the game with a settled team that have gelled well in recent months. Manager Shane Corboy will look to Declan Cahill and Rian Dempsey at the back and further up the field Paul Egan, Barry Harding, Nick Molloy and Johnny Corboy will be expected to provide and score the goals. If these players click and play to their full potential, it’s difficult to see beyond a Birr victory.
The Rosenallis team is made up of a strange mix of youth and experience with the bulk of the team coming from successful Over 35 and Youth teams over recent seasons. Paul Dunne and Paul Friel were both part of that outstanding 1999 team. Darragh McEvoy and Mark Dunne will also lend experience, but Rosenallis can also call on a bunch of talented young players including Paul Friel’s son Jack, manager Tom McDermott’s son Adam, Glen Shaw, Donnagh Killaly and Dillon Mooney although it looks as though Mooney will miss out due to injury. Otherwise Rosenallis have a clean bill of health going into the final.
Since both finalists played in the Senior Division this year, they did not enter the competition until the third round. Birr certainly have had the more difficult route to the final as they had to overcome Senior Division Champions Monksland Utd, last season’s two finalists Camlin Utd and Clara Town, before dispatching Paddy Cotter Cup winners Derry Rovers in the semifinal.
Rosenallis defeated two Longford teams UCL Harps and Colmcille Celtic before knocking out Athlone sides Willow Park and Gentex to make it to the final
Football has been played in Birr since the early sixties but Birr Town was officially formed in 1969. Since then Birr have been one of the leading lights in midlands Junior Football for most of the intervening years. They played at a number of venues in and around Birr until they bought and developed their own fine facilities in Woodfield in the nineteen nineties, now called Frank O’Connell Park after their inspirational Chairman of that period.
They have added several other titles to their two successful Counties Cup wins, including a Sheeran Cup success in 1992. They have very successful underage setup with huge numbers of boys and girls facilitated on almost 20 teams. Birr Town have also pioneered women’s football for several years and they are current CCFL Shield holders.
In 2011 Birr Town won an FAI Club of the Month award and qualified for the Club of the year competition 2012 proving that they are one of the most progressive Clubs in the region with the facilities and ambition to succeed.