CONNACHT: Who will reign?

SEAMUS DUKE, who attended the recent launch of the 2016 Connacht Senior Football Championship in Ballyhaunis, looks ahead to this season’s campaign…


Title triumphs: 21 (Last title: 2010)

Who’s the boss? Kevin McStay and Fergal O’Donnell are joint managers (1st season)

Captain Fantastic: Ciaran Murtagh

Guys to watch: Seanie McDermott, Neil Collins, Fintan Cregg, Diarmuid Murtagh, Cathal Cregg

The form they’re in: Finished fourth in the National Football League Division One, reaching the semi-finals; defeated New York (1-15 to 0-17) in their Connacht Championship opener

It begins with: Following their single-point win in New York, Roscommon debut on Irish soil when they play Leitrim on Sunday, 22nd of May in Carrick-on-Shannon

Odds to win title: 3/1

Words of wisdom: ‘If we play the way we did against New York then we won’t be getting out of Carrick-on-Shannon. We are looking no further than May 22nd because any of us who have been around for a while will know just how hard games against Leitrim in Carrick are. There will be huge rivalry, especially along the border, and a huge crowd on the day. All we want to do is win the game’ – Cathal Cregg (Roscommon player)


Title triumphs: 46 (Last title: 2015, 5th in a row)

Who’s the boss? Stephen Rochford (1st season)

Captain Fantastic: Cillian O’Connor

Guys to watch: Aidan O’Shea, Diarmuid O’Connor, Cillian O’Connor, Lee Keegan, Barry Moran

The form they’re in: Finished sixth in the National Football League Division One

It begins with: Mayo travel to Ruislip on Sunday, 29th of May, to play London

Odds to win title: 8/15

Words of wisdom: ‘We will certainly respect London and we know that they have played a number of challenge games in the past few weeks and they will be well prepared. We remember what happened in 2011 – that was a warning. But we want a performance that will produce a win. I’m very happy that Cillian O’Connor has been appointed the captain of the team this year. He is a real leader and a guy who commands huge respect in the group. The enthusiasm in the squad is great and we are looking forward to the championship and the players want another Connacht medal this year. But let’s see how Ruislip goes first’ –Stephen Rochford (Mayo manager)


Title triumphs: 45 (Last title: 2008)

Who’s the boss? Kevin Walsh (2nd season)

Captain Fantastic: Gary O’Donnell

Guys to watch: Shay Walsh, Damien Comer, Finian Hanley, Gary O’Donnell, Paul Conroy

The form they’re in: Finished third in the National Football League Division Two

It begins with: Galway will play Mayo or London at McHale Park, Castlebar on Saturday, 18th of June

Odds to win title: 5/1

Words of wisdom: ‘We have a long break between league and championship. If we are to face Mayo it is a huge game for us. Kevin (Walsh) has brought in some great new ideas to the squad and there is a great buzz in the squad. We know that we are very close to a huge breakthrough and we are focusing on the 18th of June and we are training with that in mind. Mayo are the team to beat for sure but I am confident that Galway can be very strong this year’ – Gary O’Donnell (Galway captain)


Title triumphs: 2 (Last title: 1994)

Who’s the boss? Shane Ward (2nd season)

Captain Fantastic: Gary Reynolds

Guys to watch: Emlyn Mulligan, Gary Reynolds, Donal Wrynn, Adrian Croal, Barry Prior

The form they’re in: Finished fifth in the National Football League Division Four

It begins with: Leitrim host Roscommon in Carrick-on-Shannon on Sunday, May 22nd

Odds to win title: 100/1

Words of wisdom: ‘Preparations are going really well and we have a few players like Emlyn Mulligan who are back in the fold, so we are very upbeat. There is a huge rivalry between Roscommon and Leitrim and it has been really easy to motivate the players for this one. There will be a massive crowd there on the day and the rivalry and the atmosphere will drive the players on. We know we will be underdogs on the day but that suits us fine and we are really looking forward to it’ – Shane Ward (Leitrim manager)


Title triumphs: 3 (Last title: 2007)

Who’s the boss? Niall Carew (2nd season)

Captain Fantastic: Mark Breheny

Guys to watch: Adrian Marren, Cian Breheny, Charlie Harrison, Mark Breheny, Kyle Cawley

The form they’re in: Finished fifth in the National Football League Division Three

It begins with: Sligo will meet Leitrim or Roscommon in Dr Hyde Park or Pairc Sean Mac Diarmada on Sunday, 12th of June

Odds to win title: 25/1

Words of wisdom: ‘We had a good end to the league campaign with a win against Kildare and we have no preference whether we face Leitrim or Roscommon – it is an away game regardless. We have to get on with it. The loss in the Connacht final was disappointing last year in terms of the manner in which we lost it and we want to get back into another provincial final this year. I have played for a few years but I am enjoying it as much as ever. There is a great buzz in our camp and the injuries are clearing up. It will be hard to pick the team as there is great competition for places’ – Mark Breheny (Sligo captain)


Title triumphs: 0

Who’s the boss? Ciaran Deely (1st season)

Captain Fantastic: Dave McGreevy

Guys to watch: Dave McGreevy, Mark Gottsche, Lorcan Mulvey, Cormac Coyne, Cathal Og Greene

The form they’re in: Finished seventh in the National Football League Division Four

It begins with: London host Mayo in Ruislip on Sunday, May 29th

Odds to win title: 300/1

Words of wisdom: ‘We have a lot of London-born young players coming into the squad, which is great. We are playing against one of the top teams in the country in Mayo and we know how tough it will be. Preparations have been going well but we will have a young team out against Mayo. We need to get the experience and we will have to see how it goes. Ciaran (Deely) is an excellent team manager and he is doing a great job, so we will see how it goes’ – Dave McGreevy (London captain)