Gaels and Pearses can make final






Hodson Bay Hotel Roscommon SFC Semi-Finals on Sunday at Dr Hyde Park


Roscommon Gaels v Strokestown at 1 pm

Form line

Roscommon Gaels are unbeaten so far and have gone about their business quietly and efficiently, without being spectacular. The Gaels’ corner-forwards Peter Gillooly and Ronan Carolan are capable of getting the match-winning scores.

  Strokestown have stolen into the last four almost unnoticed and go into the match as underdogs, which will suit them fine. I’ve seen them play four times in this year’s championship and they have improved with every outing under wily manager Nigel Dineen. David Butler and Paddy Brogan are playing well in the middle of the field. Colin Compton has been outstanding up front, and if Strokestown are to win they will need Diarmuid McGann and Keith Murphy to step up to the plate as well. I assume that the Gaels will detail John McManus to mark Colin Compton.

The verdict

Given their panel, the Gaels look the stronger. It remains to be seen whether or not Scott Oates and Cian Connolly will be able to return from the Middle East again this weekend. In any event, they have Richard Hughes back in action and Mark Nally has returned from abroad too. Strokestown will have to restrict the supply to corner-forwards Carolan and Gillooly if they are to keep the Gaels at bay. If the Gaels maintain their solid form, it should be enough to get them through.

Prediction: Roscommon Gaels.

Boyle v Padraig Pearses at 2.45 pm

Form line

Mouth-watering is the cliché that immediately comes to mind. Long before a ball was kicked in this championship Pearses were the choice of many people to go on this year and finally break their duck and win the Fahey Cup for the first time in their history. However, Pat Flanagan’s men stuttered over the first few hurdles, doing just enough to win, and in fact they lost by a point to Clann. Still, they finally showed what they can do in a confidence-boosting win against St. Brigid’s. Conor Daly will be back from suspension. Readers won’t need to be reminded about the ability of the Dalys, Davy Murray and Shane Carty in the Pearses’ defence. There was a question mark over their attack, but Hubert Darcy, Paul Carey and Conor Payne were all excellent against Brigid’s and are coming into form at just the right time.

  Boyle have been the most exciting team to watch in this year’s championship. Donie Smith stunned everyone with his 1-15 haul against Clann, but he has arguably been outshone by Cian McKeon in recent weeks. Enda Smith is in outstanding form too and very hard to stop when in full flight. Further back, Seanie Purcell is leading by example at centre half-back while Evan McGrath and Tadhg McKenna are also doing very well. Boyle will be brimming with confidence.

The verdict

Pearses are the only team to have been able to in any way restrict Boyle’s lethal attack in this championship (earlier in the campaign). Conor Daly’s return is a huge boost to Pearses. Niall Daly has been leading from the front for club and county all year. In attack, Paul Carey is a super young player, but are they overly reliant on him? Hubert Darcy, Ronan Daly and Conor Payne will have to deliver if Pearses are to win.

  Boyle will arguably need the performance of their lives to win. Seanie Purcell, Enda Smith, Donie Smith and Cian McKeon will have to match their recent form to give Boyle a chance. I am tempted to go for a Boyle win, but I expect that Pearses will be able to restrict the Boyle attacking threat sufficiently. They get a hesitant nod.

Prediction: Padraig Pearses.



Mulryan Contruction IFC Semi-Finals on Sunday at Orchard Park, Elphin

Castlerea St Kevin’s v Oran at 3.45 pm

Castlerea stuttered badly against Kilbride last Sunday. If they had all their best players, particularly Thomas Fetherston and Gearoid Keenan, I would be tipping Billy Donnellan’s men here, but those two are huge losses and they have other injury problems as well. Neil Collins is back for Castlerea and that’s a big boost to David Casey’s men. Collins, Darren McDermott, Eoghan Collins and Ronan Raftery will be hoping to lead their young side into the final. Oran will be depending on the likes of Ciaran Lawless, Darragh Walsh, the Caseys and James Fitzpatrick, but Castlerea should have enough.

Prediction: Castlerea St Kevin’s.


Tulsk v St Dominic’s at 5.30 pm

Tulsk have been really impressive thus far and will be strongly fancied here. However, I will be very slow to write off Dominic’s again after last weekend’s excellent display against Shannon Gaels. Dominic’s will look forward to facing Tulsk in a game in which Gerry Lohan’s men will start as hot favourites.

  St. Dominic’s have some mighty performers but Tulsk have been operating at a different level this year, producing some very good displays. I am expecting Dominic’s to make life uncomfortable for them, but Tulsk should make it to the final.

Prediction: Tulsk.


King & Moffatt Roscommon Junior Football Semi-Finals


Roscommon Gaels face Ballinameen in Castlerea on Sunday at 5.30 pm. It promises to be a hard-fought encounter, with Ballinameen tipped to win  narrowly after a scare against Western Gaels last weekend. Later on Sunday (at 8 pm) St. Brigid’s should have too much firepower against neighbours Clann na nGael at Ballyforan.


Hodson Bay Hotel SFC relegation play-off


St. Faithleach’s face St. Croan’s in the SFC relegation play-off in Strokestown on Saturday at 5.30 pm. Faithleach’s have been hit by an injury to Ciaran Murtagh and Diarmuid Murtagh is suspended. It could be a very tight game – don’t rule out a draw.