Kilbeggan Shamrocks take on Ballynacargy in the JFC final at TEG Cusack Park next Saturday (throw-in 1.45pm). Here are the men who will be striving to bring the Hugh Daniels Cup back to the banks of the Brosna after a six-year lapse.
Thomas Barrett, Goalkeeper, UU student (21): Of Mayo stock, Tomas started the 2016 JFC final against Castletown-Finea/Coole/Whitehall and has been a regular between the posts this year. A very committed player who is always one of the first down at training.
Darragh Coffey, Back, Leaving Cert student (18): One of the youngest members of the team, Darragh is a strongly-built player who has taken to adult football like a duck to water and is looking forward to playing in his first JFC final.
James Fox, Back, student (21): Corner back in the 2016 final, James has moved to the edge of the square this year and memorably made a crucial late block down in the semi-final win over The Downs. A son of club stalwart Donal, he was part of the Kilbeggan/St. Joseph's team that won a Leinster U14 Feile title in 2011 and has represented his county in all the underage grades. James is also the holder of All-Ireland Feile, U14, U16 and U21 hurling championship medals won with Castletown-Geoghegan.
Brendan McMahon, Back, NUIG student (21): Like James, Brendan is a former county minor who won a Leinster U14 Feile medal in 2011 as well as All-Ireland Feile, U14 and U16 hurling championship medals with Castletown-Geoghegan. A wholehearted player, he has played in nearly every position on the field, including goals, but looks to have finally found his home in the full back line.
Mel Kiernan, Back, accountant (31): Mel is a versatile player who has grown into one of the team leaders this year. When we beat Mullingar Shamrocks in the 2012 JFC final, he started at corner forward, but is now more accustomed to playing at wing back. His father Philip is a former Longford midfielder who won an IFC medal with the club in 2000.
Shaun Pidgeon, Back, accountant (32): Captain when we triumphed in 2012, Shaun has reprised the role this year. A role model to the younger players, he’s a natural leader who lifts the team with his never-say-die attitude and regular surges into the opposing half. Also the holder of MFC 'B' and Leinster Schools medals, everyone in the club is hoping Shaun gets to lift the Hugh Daniels Cup for a second time.
Colin Draper, Back, teacher (29): The former Rose of Tralee escort has blossomed into one of our leading performers and has added scoring to his game this year. A sports all-rounder, Colin is a member of our committee and a great man to organise social outings!
Dean Fitzgerald, Midfield, NUI Maynooth student (22): Dean is a tall, elegant footballer who is an excellent long-range free taker. Has produced some very strong performances this season and is hopeful of making it back from the leg injury which forced his early retirement in the semi-final.
Nigel Scally, Midfield, animal and crop nutritionist with Drummonds Ltd (23): The baby of the 2012 winning panel along with Mark Heffernan, Nigel has since grown a few inches and become the heartbeat of our team. He was a member of the Westmeath senior football panel this year and has come back a more complete player. He will be expected to contribute handsomely to the scoring from both frees and open play this afternoon.
Paul Fennell, Forward, Lilliput Adventure Centre coordinator (25): The scoring hero of our semi-final victory with 2-1, including the winning point in injury-time, Paul is an extremely talented player who was part of our 2012 winning team. Also a MFC medallist with Ennell Shamrocks in 2010, he has won numerous hurling honours with Castletown-Geoghegan, including a SHC medal in 2013, and has hurled with the county at every level.
David Fennell, Forward, Lilliput Adventure Centre coordinator (25): David returns to the scene of his brilliant 2012 JFC final display in which he posted 0-5. His career has mirrored that of Paul's, having won the same honours in football, hurling and rugby, and also hurled for his county at all levels.
Keith Corcoran, Forward, apprentice electrician (20): Keith is a tall, rangy player who is well able to catch a ball and whose height is often utilised around the middle of the park. He has come on in leaps and bounds since 2016 when he was among the subs for the JFC final loss to Castletown-Finea/Coole/Whitehall.
Jamie Stone, Forward, IT Carlow student (18): A terrific find in 2017, Jamie was concentrating on his Leaving Cert studies in the early part of the year, but made a welcome return for the championship campaign and started the semi-final in which he scored the equalising point which preceded Paul Fennell’s late, late winner.
Alan Fennell, Forward, army commandant (35): Captain in 2016, the oldest of the Fennell brothers boasts a wealth of experience going back to 2001 when he made his debut in the senior championship. While he has played most of his football at full back, he was midfield two years ago and is now stationed on the edge of the opposing square. The former county panellist can count U16 ('premier' and 'A'), minor 'premier', JFC and U21 Hastings Cup medals among his list of honours.
James Finnegan, Forward, AIT student (21): James is a nippy and accurate corner forward who proved himself to be a man for the big occasion by scoring two goals in the JFC final two years ago. Also an accomplished free-taker, he played U14 and U16 for Westmeath and was a key member of the Kilbeggan/St. Joseph's Leinster U14 Feile winning team seven years ago.
Niall Carey, Back / Midfield, Leaving Cert student (18): Niall will be pushing for a starting place after making a huge impact off the bench in the semi-final. He has enjoyed a superb debut season and wouldn’t look out of place in Aussie Rules with his spectacular high fielding.
Kevin Smith, Forward, IT support engineer (35): Team mascot in 1992 when his older brother Dermot captained us to JFC glory and a JFC medallist himself 20 years later, ‘Kev’ has come back from a series of injuries to play some of the best football of his career this year. A clever and creative player, he also made a big difference after coming on the semi-final and will be hoping to get a start on the big day.
Thomas Finnegan, Goalkeeper, Leaving Cert student (19): Younger brother of James, Thomas has started a number of championship games in goal over the past two seasons. Won a Fr Manning Cup medal with Westmeath as an U16.
Brendan Nannery, Back / Midfield / Forward, gym owner (32): ‘Nanno’ has been a massive addition to the club since returning from Australia at the start of 2016. The big man lined out at full forward in our first few championship games this year, but a hamstring injury has limited his game-time since then. A born leader, he is hoping to add to the JFC medal he won with St. Joseph's in 2004. Brendan played senior championship football for Westmeath in 2006 and lined out alongside John Heslin and Paul Sharry on the Irish Warriors team that won the Aussie Rules International Cup in 2011.
Fergal Fox, Forward, HSE manager (41): A native of Bonniconlon in Co. Mayo, Fergal won a JFC medal in 2012 and has been very active in the club ever since, both in a playing capacity and at underage level. Now in the twilight of his career, he came off the bench to score two late goals against Ballynacargy in the first round of the championship and will hope to make a similar impact if called upon today.
Finbar Coffey, Forward, car sales manager (33): A 2012 JFC medallist in 2012, Finbar has returned to the fold this year. He’s an effective target man who can take his score and create chances for others.
Ryan Coughlan, Back, NUI Maynooth student (19): A very committed player, Ryan was playing good football before suffering a shoulder injury in a league game against Killucan. Now back to full fitness, he’ll be itching to make an appearance in the final.
Diarmuid Egan, Forward, IT Carlow student (18): This up-and-coming corner forward is a younger brother of Ciaran, who is ruled out through injury, and a son of Padraig, who is manager of the Ferbane team that will contest the Offaly SFC final against Rhode.
Shane Gorry, Forward, metal fabricator (22): Looking forward to his second JFC final, Shane has been troubled by injury this year. He has completed various coaching coaches and mentored our U8 team this year.
Sean Maher, Forward, AIT student (21): A brilliant hurling goalkeeper and champion boxer, Sean battled back from a long injury layoff to make his JFC debut against Castletown-Finea/Coole/Whitehall in Bunbrosna. A SHC medal winner with Castletown-Geoghegan last year, he has kept goal for St. Malachy’s at senior level in the past and is the holder of All-Ireland Feile, U14 and U16 hurling championship medals with Castletown-Geoghegan. Indeed, he was top scorer in Kilbeggan/St. Joseph's Leinster Feile success seven years ago and was goalkeeper for the Westmeath U21 hurlers when they recorded an historic victory over Kilkenny two years ago.
Dylan Maloney, Forward, IT Carlow student (19): Dylan is another of our rising stars and was on the panel alongside his now retired father Paul (‘Puddie’) when we last contested the final in 2016.
Jason Maguire, Forward, self-employed (34): Another who has returned to the set-up this year and who has featured prominently for our second team.
Aaron McNamee, Forward, apprentice electrician (19): A skilful player who has battled back from injury, Aaron first came on the scene two years ago and is one of the most promising forwards in the club.
Luke McNamee, Forward, paramedic (44): A native of Granard, Co. Longford, Luke is the elder statesman of the squad and father of Aaron. He has returned to playing this year and previously served as chairman of Kilbeggan / St. Joseph’s underage.
Rory O’Neill, Defender, UCD student (19): Like Jamie Stone, Rory missed the early part of the year due to his Leaving Cert studies. He saw a lot of action last year and has a bright future in the maroon and white.
Martin Ward, Defender, Leaving Cert student (18): Another exciting prospect, Martin was thrown in at the deep end against Ballynacargy in our championship opener and gave a very good account of himself.
Rest of panel: Ciaran Egan, IT Sligo student (21); Sean Hanlon, apprentice plumber (21); Shane Keenan, fireman (23); James Hanlon, Leaving Cert student (17); Cathal Maher, Moate Business College student (17); Cathal Finn, Fifth Year student (17); Aidan Stone, Fifth Year student (17).
Management: Keith Higgins (manager), Damian McLoughlin (selector), James Higgins (selector), Mattie McCormack (selector), Ciaran Daly (kitman and medical officer), Rob Connor (physio) and Marie Lynagh (coordinator).
Club officers – chairman: Ken Scally; vice-chairman: Paul Daly; secretary: Marie Lynagh; treasurer: Martina Rochford; PRO: Randal Scally; county board delegates: Philip Kiernan and Ger Carton; health & wellbeing officer: Brendan Nannery; child protection officer: Pat Lynagh; Scor coordinator: Fiona Fennell. Other committee members: Alan Fennell, Colin Draper, Larry Claffey, Nicky Finn, Noel Collins, Mickey Kelly, James Claffey, Tom Ward, Fergal Fox and Mel Kiernan.
There was a terrific turnout for our table quiz to raise funds for our county final preparations in McNamara's last Saturday night.
There were 22 tables in all, with the winning table comprising Finola Carey, Padraig Smith, Dermot Smith and Tommy Carberry. A big thank you to quiz master TP O'Gorman and his wife Geraldine for doing a brilliant job as always. Thanks also to those who sponsored prizes for the raffle, especially Olive Maher and Shaw's Nationwide, Mullingar who also presented a gift pack to our team management at training the previous night.
Come along to Scor na nOg practice which takes place in St James' Hall every Wednesday at 7pm. Remember, you must be under 17 to take part and we are also looking for some parents or adults to help out with singing, dancing and acting.
Last week's lucky numbers were 8, 19, 21 and 28. Dylan Newman from Barley Hill was the only match 3 winner. This week's draw will take place in The Saddler's Inn with the jackpot standing at €15,000. Tickets, costing €2, can be bought from local shops and businesses. Thank you for your continued support.