Athleague and Oran chase final spot

Roscommon SHC semi-final: Oran v Athleague (Sunday, 7th of October in Athleague at 3 pm) The Form: Athleague qualified from the group stage with ten points, winning five of their seven games. They have had a long wait as the other side of the draw sorted itself out.  Oran finished in a three-way play-off for a place in the semi-finals. They drew with Pearses in the play-offs before being well beaten in the replay – however they surprised Four Roads to qualify for Sunday’s semi-final. The Managers – Athleague: David Kelly; Oran: Michael Fallon.  The Odds: Oran 5/4 v Athleague 8/11; Draw 8/1. Top Scorers – Athleague: Mervyn Connaughton, Joe Fallon. Oran: Gerry Fallon Francie Quine. Key Players – Athleague: Davy Connell, Niall Connolly, Colm Moran, Mervyn Connaughton, Alan Cunniffe, Frank Farrell, Tommy Reddington, Gary Fallon. Oran: Gerry Fallon, Francie Quine, Brian Flynn, Adrian Kelly, John Shally. The Call – Athleague have to be the hot favourites to qualify for the final but it may not be as straight-forward as it might appear at first glance. Athleague have definitely been the  best team in the SHC thus far but while they have been twiddling their thumbs over the past number of weeks, Oran have been playing championship hurling almost every week -which is surely an advantage to them.   Oran were very poor against Pearses in the replayed play-off but they recovered very well to upset Four Roads the last day out. Gerry Fallon is arguably the best hurler in the county at the moment and he is an inspiration for them from play and from the placed ball. Adrian Kelly might be coming to the end of his career but he is still hugely influential and Oran will be hoping that he will be fit to take his place after being injured against Four Roads.   Francie Quine is another who still wields  considerable influence on this Oran team and although he was only a sub against Four Roads his vital scores won the game for his club. Brian Flynn has also scored a number of valuable goals in this championship and Athleague will have to mark him tightly too.   Athleague have done very well so far. Their scorer-in-chief has been county senior captain Mervyn Connaughton but they are dangerous up front with Gary Fallon, Joe Fallon and Tom Reddington all accomplished marksmen. Futher back Niall Connolly has had a great year so far at centre-back and Colm Moran hasn’t put a foot wrong at full-back in front of the ever-reliable Davy Connell.    I am taking into account that Athleague may be a bit rusty but I give them the hesitant vote to overcome Oran in what shoud be a close and tight semi-final. Prediction: Athleague.