Castlerea chasing Connacht crown

AIB Connacht Club IFC Final:
Castlerea St Kevin’s v Monivea Abbey on Saturday in Tuam Stadium at 1.30 pm

Adam McDermott of Castlerea St Kevin’s in action against Easkey’s Rory McHugh during last Saturday’s AIB Connacht GAA Club IFC semi-final in Markievicz Park, Sligo. Pic: Bernie O’Farrell

Castlerea St Kevin’s will hope to emulate the five Roscommon clubs who have won the Connacht Club intermediate football championship since it began in 2004 when they face Galway kingpins Monivea Abbey on Saturday.

Elphin, Western Gaels, St Croan’s, Michael Glavey’s and St Faithleach’s have all tasted provincial success over the years in this competition and Castlerea will go into this weekend’s match with every chance of joining that roll of honour.

In the opposite corner will be Monivea Abbey who on Sunday last overcame the challenge of Mayo champions Kilmeena in the semi-final by a single point (1-8 to 0-10) after a tough battle in Tuam. In fact Monivea goalkeeper Denis Farragher saved a penalty deep into injury-time to rescue his side in that game. Monivea had previously beaten Kilconly by 0-14 to 0-11 in the Galway county final.

The Galway side have several talented players in their ranks, but a huge loss to them is Cillian McDaid, All-Star midfielder from 2022, who broke a bone in his leg playing in the Galway championship semi-final and accordingly is ruled out. Watch out for players like Paul Flaherty, Glenn Kelly, Trevor Mullins, Brian Flaherty and Lee Kenny.

Castlerea will probably go into the game as underdogs but they have proven this year that they are very resilient and have also shown that they are not totally reliant on Adam McDermott for their scores.

The Castlerea defence has been impressive this year with Jack Keane, David Finneran and Sean Joyce leading the way. Jonathan Hester and Michael Conroy at midfield were excellent against Easkey last Saturday and they will hope to repeat that performance against Monivea.

Up front, Adam McDermott is very much Castlerea’s main man, but Donie Brennan, Darren McDermott and Aaron McDermott are also dangerous attackers.  Castlerea have been impressive off the bench too, with Nathan Bligh, Ronan Curran and Niall Connaughton all likely to see game time this weekend.

This final will be a big test for Castlerea manager Dara Bruen and his players but they have jumped every hurdle that they have faced so far this year and a win on Saturday would cap off what has already been a marvellous year for the club.

Without Cillian McDaid, Monivea are weakened, and if Castlerea can spread the scoring responsibility they can be the sixth Roscommon team named on the cup come Saturday evening.

Prediction: Castlerea St Kevin’s.