Close contest on cards, but Four Roads can return to summit

Kepak Roscommon SHC Final:
Four Roads v Padraig Pearses in Athleague on Saturday at 3pm

At the start of 2022 the general consensus was that these two clubs would reach the county SHC final. However, despite looking the strongest two teams in the competition, it has not been plain sailing for either club, with both being severely tested in their respective semi-finals.

Four Roads are back in the final for the first time since 2019. While for any other club there wouldn’t be anything remarkable about that, for the kingpins of Roscommon hurling it’s quite the barren period.

Four Roads breezed though the championship this year up to the point where they met Athleague in the semi-final. The lopsided nature of the Roscommon SHC meant that Four Roads (and Pearses) were idle for seven weeks as they waited to discover who their semi-final opponents would be. Four Roads were rusty that day and almost paid the penalty. However they were able to run out the six-point winners very late on. It was a margin that flattered John Cunniffe’s men.

Four Roads look a solid outfit this year with the addition of young players like Mikey Lohan, Oisin Campbell and Adam Donnelly adding a new impetus to their side.

That said, their team is still backboned by the likes of Noel Fallon, Micheal Kelly, Johnny Moran, Conor Mulry, Cormac Coyle, James Cunniffe, Cathal Dolan and Brendan Mulry. The overall panel looks strong too.

Pearses were in a similar position to Four Roads in that they came into the semi-finals having been impressive and unbeaten in the championship. But against unfancied Oran they just scraped through, the width of a post separating them from possible defeat as Jerry Fallon’s penalty struck the woodwork in the dying stages of that contest.

There is a huge enthusiasm in the Pearses camp this year. This journalist attended one of their recent training sessions, and it was as intense a one as I have seen in a long while. I went away very impressed.

The experienced Padraig Dolan will continue in goal while further out the field the half-back line of Eoghan Costello, Shane Naughton and Jamie Curley looks very strong. Up front, Matthew Comerford, Oisin Kelly and Darragh Finn are excellent attackers while the key man remains Daniel Glynn. Pearses will be looking to the county star for scores from play and frees. On his day Daniel is a match-winner.

This promises to be a very close battle. The respective free-takers, Cathal Dolan and Daniel Glynn, will have huge roles to play, but it is elsewhere around the field where this clash of the neighbours is likely to be settled.

The Four Roads midfield duo Conor Coyle and Mikey Lohan were very impressive against Athleague. In fact young Lohan kept his side in the game when they were under pressure. Micheal Kelly will lead from centre half-back as usual, while Brendan Mulry has had a very good year for club and county.

Pearses have a fine side but they may just be a little too reliant on Daniel Glynn for their scores. I am going to give Four Roads a hesitant vote to regain the Mickey Cunniffe Cup with a narrow win.

Prediction: Four Roads