THE first cup champions of the Carlow Soccer League season will be crowned as the KCLR Carlow Shield final takes place at The Meadows in Graiguecullen tonight. The two most decorated sides in Carlow soccer history go head to head as Crettyard and New Oak do battle for just the second time this season. You would be foolish to look past a New Oak side who have won every single league game this season and every single match domestically bar a rare slip up against Vale in the Shield early on, especially given the season that Crettyard are having. However, while this may not be the Crettyard that we know and have been used to over the last few seasons, they always raise their game against the reigning quadruple champions and they will be a fierce opponent. For different reasons, this is massive for both clubs. New Oak have made it clear that their goal is to win everything in Carlow for a second season in a row as they attempt to defend the quadruple they won last year. Crettyard, having had a poor season by their standards will be aiming to salvage something from their season and what better chance than a cup final?
Crettyard manager Peter Donnelly says that the mood around the camp is fairly optimistic. “It’s optimistic, it’s positive in a strange sort of way. I think we’ve come to a realisation that things just are what they are. New Oak are a very good side and have been on a great run for quite some time. From the very first time we spoke going back to September, I used the word “process” a lot and that’s exactly what it has been and it’s continuing to be. We’ve added depth to the squad but it’s a work in progress.”
Given the fact that Donnelly says that it’s a progress at Crettyard, he said that it is almost like a free hit for his side, that they have nothing to lose. “We go with the mentality that every game is a cup game, sadly I didn’t come up with it, but yeah there is an element of that, it’s there for the taking. If we bring our A game then we’re in with a good chance. The important thing is that we put up a good fight, make a good account of ourselves, that’s the important part.”
Last weekend, Crettyard put ten past Division 2 side, Vale B. Donnelly says that whilst they would have rathered a more competitive game, that they can still take some confidence from the scoreline and performance. “They’re a very young team, I would have much preferred a more competitive game given tomorrow night and what we have to do tomorrow night. The scoreline, it could have been more, but yeah we’ll take confidence from it, it gives us a little bit of a boost. Every game though I like to learn something from it, win, lose or draw.”
New Oak captain, David O’Shea says that the mood is positive in their camp given that they’ve been on such a great run. “Yeah feeling good, results seem to be going our way the past couple of weeks there, training is good, numbers are good, we’re not missing any players with injury or anything like that, it’s all very positive at the moment ahead of the game tomorrow. We’re really looking forward to it, like any game, there seems to be a lot of enjoyment with training and matches lately, especially when we’re winning but there’s the added bonus of silverware up for grabs. Playing Crettyard they’re always great games, entertaining, a little bit of bite to them, they like to play football, they’re very tough so really looking forward to it.”
He reckons that they have every right to feel confident going into the clash. “There’s no reason to not feel confident. We’re playing some good football and even on the days when we’re not playing good football, we’re still grinding out results. Credit to the boys, and the management, we seem to be in a good place so everyone is feeling confident.”
O’Shea says he’s aware of Crettyard’s blip this season but expects them to be on top form when they meet. “It’s probably just a habit at this stage, looking back over previous seasons it’s always been neck and neck between ourselves and Crettyard. Not that I’d be following the games but you’d always hear on a Sunday morning after a game if a game hadn’t gone Cretty’s way or they’d dropped points or something, it would always be said to you immediately after the game. Surprisingly enough they have dropped a few points this season that hasn’t happened in previous years. They’re far too dangerous of a team to be overly confident though, you can’t take anything for granted. We’re looking forward to the challenge.”
The two teams also face off on Sunday in the league in Crettyard with New Oak just needing to win to be crowned champions.
By Harry Shorthose