Birr and Rosenallis aim to bring back the glory days in the Counties Cup
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.
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 semifinal 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.
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.
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.
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
Birr Town Club Profile
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.
Rosenallis Club Profile
Rosenallis Association Football Club was formed in 1974 when a group of locals began playing soccer together and formed a Club. Their first games were in local competitions before entering a team in the Leinster Junior League the following year. Despite struggling in the early years they won their first league title in 1980 and followed this up with another success the following year. For most of the time since then Rosenallis have played in the top divisions of the of Midlands Junior football and have consistently punched above their weight against clubs with far greater resources.
In addition to winning the Counties Cup in 1999 Rosenallis reached the last 16 of the FAI Junior Cup in 1993 and had other league and Cup successes down the years. The club is on a very sound footing at the moment. They have a solid second team panel and a strong Over 35 team. Most importantly though they have a thriving schoolboys and now schoolgirls section. Their Under 12 team reached the quarter finals of the SFAI cup this year. They also have plans to develop their own grounds in the near future.