SFC Preview: Tourlestrane v Tubbercurry

Preview: Tourlestrane vs Tubbercurry  

in what has been a subdued Belfry Senior Championship thus far, there is every chance things will ignite today as traditional rivals Tourlestrane and Tubbercurry clash with a place in the next weekend’s final at stake.

The wider south Sligo community remains in shock following the tragic death of Mairead Davey RIP, and today’s meeting of two local clubs will certainly be a difficult one as the community attempts to come to terms with this untimely loss.

On the field, Tubbercurry and Tourlestrane are regarded as the top two teams in the competition so his promises to be a tight, tense and fiery encounter with Tubbercurry hoping to gain some revenge for their narrow two-point defeat to their neighbours in the league final earlier this year.

Both sides will certainly have learned much from that match-up which ended 0-17 to 0-15 in Tourlestrane’s favour, but arguably it is Tubbercurry who carry greater momentum into today’s tie.

They topped Group One with three consecutive wins - including one over already confirmed finalists Eastern Harps - to qualify directly for the semi-finals, and are waiting in the long grass having not played for four weeks, though that in itself could be a disadvantage.

Tourlestrane are also unbeaten, having beaten Drumcliffe/Rosses Point, Coolaney/Mullinabreena and Calry/St Joseph’s en route to the final four. Granted, they may not have turned too many heads with their performances so far, but this is a Tourlestrane side that hasn’t lost a competitive game in Sligo since their semi-final defeat to St Mary’s at this stage in 2015.

Tourlestrane’s defensive solidity is the most striking feature of their campaign so far, and it will be fascinating to see how they attempt to contain a free-scoring Tubbercurry attack including David Kelly and Dermot Walsh.

After an underwhelming couple of years since their last championship triumph in 2014, Pat Kilcoyne has overseen an upturn in Tubbercurry’s fortunes and with such talent at their disposal, it is no surprise to see them competing at the business end of the championship once again in 2017.

While they have 20 championship titles and remain by some distance the county’s most successful club, Tubbercurry have only one title to Tourlestrane’s six championships since the turn of the millennium. A win today would leave them as hot favourites to add a 21st next Sunday, and knocking out Tourlestrane would give an added confidence boost.

For Tourlestrane, the motivation for winning this year’s championship is simple. For all of their success in the last 25 years, they have failed on nine occasions to put together back-to-back senior championship titles and that remains a source of frustration for the men in green and gold. Back-to-back title would certainly cement the club’s place as the most successful of the modern era, but they face an almighty challenge today to secure another final meeting with old rivals Eastern Harps - a team that thwarted their two-in-a-row ambitions on a couple of occasions throughout the noughties.

Both sides know how important today’s encounter is in the greater scheme of things - a crack at outright glory awaits the winner - but also local bragging rights for the winter ahead. It all adds up to what promises to be a cracking encounter that is too close to call. 

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