KILKENNY’S top two will both have doubles on their mind when the McCalmont Cup final takes centre stage on Sunday.
Fresh from winning the Premier Division league title, Evergreen A will be hoping to make it a successful seven days by lifting the Cup in Derdimus on Sunday. However, standing in their way are Freebooters A. They will be keen to add the Cup to the Maher Shield title they won at the same venue just a few weeks ago.
The Cup, the blue riband competition of the Kilkenny & District League, kicked off on March 6 with a preliminary game between Brookville and Clifden United. A week later four more teams competed for the two remaining first round spots, with the Cup beginning in earnest on March 20.
Interestingly, Deen Celtic B have done something no other team has managed in this season’s McCalmont Cup – score against Evergreen A. Andrew Carron is the only person so far who has found a way past Pierce Dargan in the competition, although his goal proved a mere consolation as the Castlecomer men were swept aside 6-1 in their first round game. Since then Freshford Town, St Pat’s Boys and East End United A have failed to breach the city side’s defence, with the beaten trio conceding 15 goals in the process. Evergreen A played their opening three games at home on the Kells Road, before playing the semi-final as the ‘away’ side at Derdimus.
As for Freebooters A their path to the final has also benefited from the prowess of their goalkeeper. While they needed penalties to get past Fort Rangers in the opening round - Dessie Hayes had earlier cancelled out Johnny Brett’s opener - they haven’t conceded a goal in the three games since. They beat Tullaroan 2-0 in the second round, Freebooters B 1-0 in the quarter-finals and Clover United A 1-0 in the semi-finals.
As an aside, the Fort game was the only one where Freebooters A had home advantage - Sean Doyle’s side were designated the ‘away’ team in their latter three games, even though they share the Fair Green with Freebooters B and played their semi-final in Derdimus.
The McCalmont Cup, round by round
Preliminary Round – Brookville 0, Clifden United 3; Clover United A 4, Lions B 1; Highview Athletic A 2, Bridge United A 1.
First Round – AC Kilkenny A 0, Freebooters B 3; East End United B 2, Highview Athletic B 2 (AET - East End won on pens); Freshford Town 2, Clover United B 0; Bridge United B 4, Evergreen C 2 (AET); Evergreen B 1, Newpark United B 1 (AET - Newpark won on pens); Spa United 0, St Pat’s Boys 3; Freebooters A 1 (Dessie Hayes), Fort Rangers 1 (AET ’Booters won on pens); Highview Athletic A 2, Deen Celtic A 2 (AET – Deen won on pens); Tullaroan 1, Thomastown United A 0; Lions A 1, Urlingford 0; Evergreen A 6 (Chris Whearty (2), Mark Cashin, Michael Cashin, Jamie Owens, Mark Andrews), Deen Celtic B 1; Clover United A 3, Southend United 0; Stoneyford United 4, AC Kilkenny B 0.
Second Round – Deen Celtic A 4, Callan United 4 (AET – Callan won on pens); River Rangers 4, Bridge United B 2; Stoneyford United 1, Freebooters B 2; Evergreen A 7 (Mark Cashin (2), Mark Andrews, Niall Andrews, Oisin Corr, Joe Mulcahy, Chris Whearty), Freshford Town 0; St Pat’s Boys 4, Newpark United B 1; Tullaroan 0, Freebooters A 2 (Dessie Hayes, Damien Raggett); Clover United A 4, East End United B 0; Lions A 1, East End United A 1 (AET – East End won on pens).
Quarter-finals – Callan United 1, Clover United A 2; River Rangers 1, East End United A 1 (AET – East End won on pens); Freebooters B 0, Freebooters A 1 (Paul O’Brien); Evergreen A 4 (Joe Mulcahy (2), Mark Andrews, Jamie Owens), St Pat’s Boys 0.
Semi-finals – Clover United A 0, Freebooters A 1 (John Hayes); East End United A 0, Evergreen A 2 (Jamie Owens, Mark Cashin).
Freebooters may have the edge when it comes to the number of McCalmont Cup successes, but Evergreen are still on their own in one other title achievement.
Sean Doyle’s side go into the final hoping to make it back-to-back wins, but Evergreen are the only team to have won the prestigious competition three years in a row.
They achieved that piece of history in the 1990s, almost making the cup their own from 1997 to 1999. Incidentally, they were denied a fourth title by ’Booters, who were then stopped short of a hat-trick of their own when East End took the spoils in 2002.
A win on Sunday would see Freebooters claim their 14th McCalmont Cup. Currently top of the pile on 13 victories, they and Evergreen (11) have 24 titles between them. A measure of their dominance in the competition is highlighted by the fact that the remaining 38 other titles are shared between 21 teams.
Evergreen were the first of the two finalists to lift the trophy, beating the Blues by three years (1952) but they had to wait 15 years for their second success. By that stage Freebooters had won the Cup twice, adding the 1961 title to their maiden win in 1955.
Nicky Marnell has been named as referee for Sunday’s McCalmont Cup final. Joining him are assistants Tom Walsh and Pat O’Connor, with Tristan Eardley as fourth official.