The footballers of Errill and Mountmellick will do battle in O’Moore Park tonight at 7.30pm with the Junior ‘B’ football title on the line.
Football is not something you would associate with Errill but the West Laois club have a serious knack of reaching county finals in the code in recent years.
Tonight’s encounter will be their third time to contest a final in the last four years and their rise is made all the more remarkable as in 2014, they ended a 12-year wait to win a game.
Back then, they defeated St Joseph’s by 1-6 to 0-8 in Round 1 of the Junior C championship and it was their first football win of any description since they won a game back in 2002.
Errill were defeated in the semi final that year by eventual champions Camross but they did manage to make the final in 2016.
They took on their neighbours Rathdowney in the final that year and, in a game played on St Stephen’s Day, Errill triumphed by 2-6 to 1-6.
Buoyed on by that victory, Errill were back in another final in 2017 as they scored four goals in a big win over Rosenallis to claim Junior B glory.
Errill had now stepped up two grades in two years and in their first Junior A game, they ran Camross close but went down 1-14 to 3-3 in the end.
They would subsequently give a walkover to The Harps and that saw them relegated to Junior B again where, following a Round 1 loss to Arles-Kilcruise, wins over Emo, The Rock and Rosenallis fired them back to the final.
Mountmellick’s second team are their opponents tonight and there is some interesting symmetry around them too.
Back in 2006, they won a Junior B football title and then went on to claim intermediate glory that same year.
How they would love to repeat the trick this year and this team has a nice blend of youth and experience.
Like Errill, Mountmellick also lost their Round 1 encounter against The Rock but recovered to defeat Slieve Bloom, Timahoe and Arles-Kilcruise to reach the final.
Youngsters Rian Coss and Conor Comiskey are very impressive players while the experience of Shane Conlon, Darragh Hanlon, Darren Young and Aidan Challenor could prove crucial.
But the backbone of Errill’s rise over the last few years has been the commitment shown by their hurlers.
Paddy Purcell and Jack Kelly have shown they are extremely comfortable with the big ball while Tadhg Dowling, John Keane, David Poynton and Eoin Bourke are all very useful also.
So, we’re going to go for Errill to collect their third football crown in the last four years.