Champs Clann may edge it

SEAMUS DUKE previews this weekend’s Hodson Bay Hotel, Roscommon SFC Round 2 games and (below) all the IFC action…
People Sport Game of the Weekend

Clann na nGael v Padraig Pearses on Saturday at Johnstown at 7.30 pm: First Round results: Clann na nGael lost to Roscommon Gaels, Padraig Pearses beat St. Brigid’s

Key Battleground: Arguably the most impressive performance of round one came from Pearses when they put St Brigid’s to the sword.

  The fact that Conor and Ronan Daly have left for the USA will certainly weaken their challenge, but they still have plenty of good players like Niall Carty, Niall Daly, Hubert Darcy, Seanie Fahy and Emmet Kelly.

  Clann missed a lot of chances when losing to Roscommon Gaels and they will want to get their title defence up and running at their home ground.

  Fergal Lennon, Jack Connaughton, David Flynn, Cathal Shine and Donie Shine will all be expected to play leading roles, with Ultan Harney back in training and a possible sub. This could go down to the wire but Clann need the win and they should be able to make home advantage pay.

Roscommon People Prediction: Clann na nGael.

Vital game for Brigid’s

Who’s in Action? St. Brigid’s v Boyle (Section A).

When and Where? On Friday in Kiltoom at 8 pm.

First Round results: St. Brigid’s lost to Padraig Pearses, Boyle beat Castlerea St Kevin’s.

Key Battleground: A very interesting game in prospect here. St. Brigid’s struggled against Pearses –particularly up front – and don’t be surprised to see player-manager Frankie Dolan in the Brigid’s attack in this game as there are injury doubts about Ronan Stack and Cathal McHugh.

  Ian Kilbride could be back for a match in which the contribution of Senan Kilbride and Karol Mannion will be crucial.

  The return of Enda Smith and big brother Donie will lift the Boyle challenge and with Seanie Purcell, Tadhg McKenna and Tadhg Lowe also in Mick Jordan’s team, Boyle look to have plenty of firepower.

  Brigid’s will have to play well to win here and Boyle could well spring a shock. Brigid’s must win this match and they might just scrape it at home. There won’t be much in it.

Prediction: St. Brigid’s.

Gaels to continue winning ways

Who’s in Action? Castlerea St. Kevin’s v Roscommon Gaels (Section A).

When and Where? On Sunday in Castlerea at 3.45 pm.

First Round results: Castlerea lost to Boyle, while Roscommon Gaels defeated the defending champions Clann na nGael

Key Battleground: Roscommon Gaels put down a marker with their hard-fought win against Clann na nGael at Lisnamult in round one. They have a very strong side. Liam McNeela, John McManus, Paul Gleeson, James McDermott, David O’Gara, Brian Kelly, Enda Lannon and Ciaran Kilcline have all been playing well. There is still a doubt over the fitness of Cian Connolly.

  Castlerea will need Ger Heneghan, Darren McDermott, Ronan Raftery and Fintan Kelly to lead from the front, but in truth it would be a shock if the home side were to win here.

Prediction: Roscommon Gaels.

Faithleach’s have firepower

Who’s in Action? Michael Glavey’s v St. Faithleach’s (Section B).

When and Where? At Strokestown on Saturday at 7.30 pm.

First Round results: Michael Glavey’s lost to St. Croan’s while St. Faithleach’s beat Elphin by eight points.

Key Battleground: The game against St. Croan’s was a bit of a wake-up call for Glavey’s as they were well beaten. They will be up against it here again. Darren O’Malley, Gary Patterson, Andrew Glennon and Caoileann Fitzmaurice will be prominent, but it is hard to see them being able to deal with the threat posed by the Murtagh brothers, Brian, Ciaráin and Diarmuid (if he is fit). With Kevin Farrell, Dave Rooney and Darragh Hussey also in the Faithleach’s attack they look to have too much for the intermediate champions.

Prediction: St. Faithleach’s.

Big local derby

Who’s in Action? Strokestown v Elphin (Section B).

When and Where? On Sunday at Kilglass at 1 pm.

First Round results: Strokestown lost to Western Gaels while Elphin lost to St. Faithleach’s.

Key Battleground: Both sides were disappointing in the first round, both losing heavily. Elphin will be hoping that the inspirational Fintan Cregg can work his magic and bring the likes of Shane Killoran, Gerry Cregg, John Collins and Paddy O’Connor with him.

  Strokestown have a very talented set of players but they have flattered to deceive so many times over the past couple of years. Davy Neary, Sean Mullooly, Paddy Brogan, Thomas Corcoran, Cathal and Colin Compton, Kevin Finn and Diarmuid McGann all have lots of inter-county experience.

  Sooner or later Strokestown are going to put it all together and produce a good display. Maybe this will be the day.

Prediction: Strokestown.

Gaels to prevail?

Who’s in Action? Western Gaels v St. Croan’s (Section B).

When and Where? On Sunday in Castlerea at 2 pm.

First Round results: Western Gaels defeated Strokestown and St. Croan’s beat Michael Glavey’s.

Key Battleground: Western Gaels were very impressive in round one against Strokestown and with Seanie McDermott, Cathal and Finbar Cregg and Derek Moran in their ranks they have plenty of good players –and the possibility that Ciaran Cafferky and Kevin Higgins could play will boost them also.

  Croan’s were solid against Glavey’s, but this will be a much bigger test. James Connaughton, Ross Timothy, the Smith brothers and Cathal Connelly have all been playing well and they will give Western Gaels plenty of this about. I have a slight preference for the Gaels in this one – but it will be tight.

Prediction: Western Gaels.