16 September 2011 No Comments by The Northern Standard

Castleblayney Faughs re-claimed the Senior Hurling Championship
crown last weekend by defeating defending champions Inniskeen
Grattans. Faughs’ joint-manager Declan Connolly was suitably pleased
by his charges’ performance. by KEVIN CARNEY
Victory for Castleblayney Faughs in last weekend’s SHC final is a positive reflection of the state of hurling in the county.That’s the considered view of Faughs’ joint- team manager Declan Connolly who believes his side’s victory over defending champions Inniskeen Grattans showcased the current strength-in-depth of hurling in the county.
“When you consider what Inniskeen achieved last year in winning the Ulster club title and also the Kilmacud Sevens, our win was all the more significant for both the Faughs and for hurling in Monaghan. “When you have the likes of us and Inniskeen going head to head, with not a lot in it, it can only help to raise the standard of hurling in the county.
“Despite what the scoreboard at the end might suggest, last weekend’s final was another tit-for-tat contest between two equally good teams. “Now the challenge for us is to go on and try and emulate what Inniskeen did in the provincial and all-Ireland arena in 2010.”
The Faughs are now on their starter’s orders to take on the Down champions in the Ulster club series on October 4th next and such was the impressive nature of their 2-15 to 1-7 victory in last weekend’s blue riband decider that there are real expectations that, like Inniskeen in 2010, they’ll do Monaghan proud on the intercounty front.
Certainly there was a clinical efficiency and collective will-to-win on evidence from the Faughs last weekend which augurs well for their prospects in Ulster and perhaps further afield in the coming weeks.
In regaining the crown they last held in 2009 – before surrendering it to the Grattans by a single point in last year’s final – the ‘blayney-based men pushed a lot of the right buttons in a five-star show.
Observers at the match were united in the belief that not only had the Faughs done a lot of things well on the field but that off the field, the high notes were struck as well.
In that latter regard, the Faughs’ mentors – led by Connolly and his joint manager Paul Hughes and selector Jarlath Denny – got things spot on by, for instance, identifying Grattans’ key playmakers and scorers and putting their best man-markers on them.
In addition, the Faughs played a very direct style of hurling which meant the team’s full-forwards were inundated with fast, quick ball.
Such a style meant that a virtual ban on short handpassing in the vital diamond area of the pitch was enforced. Some surprise player relocations helped form ‘blayney’s eventual potent cocktail with long-time ‘keeper Hugh Byrne sited up front following some impressive displays in the mid-Ulster club championship.
Former stand-by netminder Ronan McAteer was also given his head after some stand-out outings in the run-up to this year’s championship.
Also, from the start of the year, observers of ‘blayney’s preparations will tell you, the Faughs’ think-tank were clearly hell bent on having a settled side come the county championship.
Competing in the Armagh championship, Connolly reckons, brought ‘blayney on a tonne as did their Ulster club odyssey.
Full story in The Northern Standard

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