01 Dec 2021

Longford IFC Final: Hudson has Ballymahon buzzing and back on track in bid for title

Mulleady Group 2021 Intermediate Football Championship Final on Saturday

mulleady group intermediate football championship

Alan Hudson, the manager of the Ballymahon intermediate football squad Photo: Syl Healy

There’s an old saying ‘a week is a long time in football’, but try telling that to Ballymahon manager Alan Hudson. The 44-year-old was a member of the south Longford side’s last victorious march to Intermediate title success back in 1998, a triumph he is aspiring to replicate this Saturday.

It’s beyond a two decade long gap, a stretch of time which is made all the more daunting given his team’s opponents, who he branded the “aristocrats of Intermediate football” in Longford.

“They have a lot of things going for them,” said a pensive Hudson. 

Longford IFC Final: St Brigid's Killashee and Ballymahon battle it out for the Hennessy Cup

While St Brigid’s are on the brink of creating a most significant piece of Longford GAA history in their bid to win the Intermediate Football Championship title twice in the space of just over a couple of months, they are facing a tough task against Ballymahon in the 2021 final.

“In Ray Curley, they have a very level headed manager and when we played them in the last round of the Championship group stage, we got a good lesson.”

That lesson, Hudson alluded to, came at Kenagh’s McGann Park resulting in a 1-18 to 1-8 drubbing.

The Ballymahon chief is very much from the old school of managerial aficionados. 

Straight talking and as honest as they come, Hudson needs no reminding of how such a result can impact a side’s confidence.

“We might not have been at full strength but we definitely didn’t want to go out and get a ten point schooling,” he said.

“It’s not the kind of result you want going into an Intermediate final. We knew we needed to improve and we have.”

Evidence of those green shoots culminated in Hudson’s side seeing off an arguably more fancied Ardagh Moydow outfit in the competition’s semi-final decider. on the October Bank Holiday Monday.

It was a victory which, nonetheless, came at a cost with free scoring forward Kyle Fitzmaurice receiving a straight red card as the contest entered its dying embers.

It’s a void Hudson could well do without especially when the side standing in his way are the defending Intermediate champions.

“Without a doubt,” he replied in response to the headache Fitzmaurice’s enforced absence has brought.

“Any scoring forward you have is an asset. Scoring is, at the best of times, hard to come by and Kyle is one of those scoring forwards you want in your side.

“But there are lads that are chomping at the bit to get in and then there are lads who are disappointed that they aren’t starting and who are fine footballers in their own right.”

Despite his realist, common sense approach to on field affairs, Hudson believes a wealth of homegrown mentors in the shape of Mikey Farrell, Paschal Fitzmaurice and Robbie Forbes have been critical in charting Ballymahon’s path to this weekend’s  county final against St Brigid's. 

“I might be manager, but training and match day is very much shared and it seems to have paid off,” he said.

“It’s going to be a major battle, but it’s all about on the day and I have huge faith in these players.”

And while turning those feelings of self-confidence and assuredness into silverware may be easier said than done, Hudson and his Ballymahon charges, you feel, won’t be found wanting come Saturday afternoon.

Longford IFC Final: Can Curley guide St Brigid's Killashee to another championship win?

History means little to St Brigid’s Killashee manager Ray Curley. Just over two months on from masterminding the club’s path to Intermediate title success courtesy of a Covid delayed 2020 campaign, Curley is putting the finishing touches to what he hopes will be a similar outcome in Saturday afternoon’s eagerly awaited final against Ballymahon.

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