Gabriel Bannigan is approaching St Sylvester’s fourth round senior football championship clash with St Oliver Plunkett’s full of positivity, declaring himself “very happy” with his team’s preparation while fully acknowledging the opposition’s attacking threats.
“There’s no rocket science in identifying the threats when you’re playing Plunkett’s,” started the charismatic manager.
“They’re second favourites for the championship, and you’ve just got to look at the team sheet – Alan Brogan, Bernard Brogan, Jason Sherlock, Gareth ‘Nesty’ Smith – they have an amazing forward line.
“Not only that, but they have inter-county talent all over the pitch. They’re a good side everywhere – strong at the back, strong in the middle and fantastic up front,” said the Sylvester’s manager.
While Bannigan is all too happy to list off the great attributes of his championship opposition, he is by no means going in without a game plan. The Malahide boss had little hesitation in sharing his thoughts on where the game would be won.
“Look, they have an amazing forward line. If they get a lot of time on the ball, or if they receive a lot of the play, they’re going to put scores on the board.
“For me, the match will be won in the middle third of the pitch. If we win possession more than they do, we have a great chance of getting the result. If they win more ball in the middle than us, they’ll have a better chance of progressing.”
Last year, the Syl’s manager walked into the fourth round of the championship missing six players, but this year he is a lot more confident of his chances, missing only two important players, Gary Sweeney and John Murphy.
The team are also coming off a huge win in the last round of the tournament where they ran through Ciaran Whelan’s Raheny, 5-12 to 0-5.
“I’m very happy in terms of availability. Obviously, we’ll be missing Gary and John, but otherwise we’ve got a full team.
“We were delighted with the win against Raheny, but with all due respect, I think we could’ve done with a harder test before going on to play Plunkett’s. We’re under no illusions, it will be a difficult test.
“At the beginning of the season, we were targeting this time of year as our time to peak, so we are happy where we are and we’ll be looking to push on from that,” said Bannigan.
With the draw for the championship being made last Monday, Sylvester’s seemed to have drawn a short straw as far as a run-in is concerned. If they manage to negotiate their way past Plunkett’s, they will go on to face the winner of the Kilmacud Crokes and Ballyboden St Enda’s clash.
“It’s far too early to look at that, they’re two brilliant sides,” Bannigan concluded. “We need to keep all of our attention on Plunkett’s at the moment.