Four Roads get nod to block Athleague advance!

Kepak Roscommon SHC Final:

Four Roads v Athleague on Sunday in Athleague at 2 pm

Padraig Kelly in action for Four Roads. Pic: Bernie O’Farrell

From early in the year it looked odds-on that this year’s county hurling final would be between these great old rivals Athleague and Four Roads – and so it has come to pass.

Both sides have been almost foot-perfect in the championship so far this year, but it has to be said that Four Roads have earned the favourite’s tag because they have been the more impressive side in the run-up to this final.

While he plays it down, Shane Curley has done a marvellous job with Four Roads since taking over as manager earlier this year. The former county star has re-energised the defending champions. While they did win the title last year, there is a freshness about them in this campaign that has made Four Roads even more formidable opponents than they have been in the past.

Ben McGahon in action for Athleague during the 2022 season. Pic: Bernie O’Farrell

Athleague have also been refreshed this year. Gary Fallon has taken over as player-manager, moving into the goalkeeper’s position which was occupied by club legend Davy Connell for almost 30 years. Several young players have been introduced too. With the likes of Robbie Fallon, Cathal Crehan and Alan Moore coming back to form, they will be relishing a chance to upset the odds on Sunday.

However, Four Roads have power and class in every line – from Noel Fallon between the posts to the likes of Johnny Moran, James Dillon, Tommy Morris, Darren Fallon, Conor Coyle, Brendan Mulry, Padraig Kelly, the great veteran Micheál Kelly, and Cathal Dolan. These lads are all excellent players and every one of them have stepped up their games this year.

Athleague will be hoping that players like Gary Fallon, Mark Ward, Eoghan Coyle, Darragh Heavey, Naoise Coyle, Cian Murray, Aengus Lyons, Alan Moore and Robbie Fallon can provide inspiration on Sunday.

Four Roads were unhappy with their first-half performance against Tremane in the semi-final, although they put that right with a powerful second-half display. Still, it remains a fact that they have played some scintillating hurling throughout this year’s championship.

Athleague were given the fright of their lives by Oran in their semi-final – but maybe a tough test is just what they needed in preparation for this Sunday’s decider.

Athleague will go into the match in a great position, i.e. as the underdogs. They would enjoy nothing better than to turn over their traditional fierce rivals and what is a fancied Four Roads side. However, anything other than a comfortable Four Roads win would be a major surprise. It looks like the Mickey Cunniffe Cup will be heading back to Tisrara for the winter again.

Prediction: Four Roads.