Kepak Roscommon SHC Final: Four Roads v Oran in Athleague at 3.30 pm
Four Roads will attempt to add to their incredible record of recent years when they attempt to take home the Mickey Cunniffe Cup for the ninth year in a row when they face Oran in Athleague on Sunday.
Oran have been one of the teams that have not be able to stop this unprecedented run, losing to the champions in 2009 and again in 2013, but they will be hoping to finally put a halt to one of the most remarkable eras in Roscommon sport.
Oran have won five titles in all but none since 2004. Incidentally, they have beaten Four Roads in four of those championship winning finals but Four Roads have won the last two finals in which the teams have met. Four Roads are way ahead at the top of the Roscommon roll of honour with 33 senior titles accumulated so far.
So what of Four Roads in 2016? This year the team is managed by three club legends: Damien Lohan, Padraig Mannion and Robbie Glennon with Joe Mannion looking after the training of the team.
Speaking to Damien Lohan this week, the determination in the club to bring back the title once again seems to be as strong as ever.
“We started the championship well and we qualified for the semi-finals without much bother really. But then there was a big gap between games and that was a killer and it stopped our momentum altogether. That long gap is something that will have to be looked at from every club’s point of view.”
Lohan went on to pay tribute to the champions’ team spirit: “Even when we were losing coming into injury-time against Pearses in the drawn match I was confident we would be able to come back, this is a great bunch of lads. We have everyone back in contention for the final and a lot of the injuries and niggles that we had have cleared up.
“Oran are a good side and they have been putting up big scores this year. There is nothing between a lot of the teams in Roscommon and we are expecting a very tight game on Sunday that’s for sure. There is a great buzz again here in Four Roads, we love playing in the big games and in county finals and the hunger is always there to win county titles. We know this will be a very tough game but it is one that we will be going to Athleague to win,” he concluded
Oran are also managed by three club legends. Harry Crowley (the captain of title-winning teams in 1989 and 1990) and Francie Quine are the selectors while team manager is Colm Kelly. Preparations have been tricky because of Oran’s involvement in the intermediate football final. There are six players who will be doubling up as dual players namely Cathal and Paul Kenny, Thomas Fetherston, Mark Gunning, Mike Dwyer and Gearóid Keenan.
Colm Kelly spoke about the build-up to Sunday’s final earlier this week: “Thankfully none of the lads who played in the football final last Sunday have come out of it with any serious knocks, with a replay coming up it is tough on them but we have to just get on with it now.
“We have played fairly well this championship and we had good wins against Athleague, Pearses and Roscommon Gaels but we know that we are facing a big step up on Sunday.
“We all know what Four Roads are like in a county final, but we have trained well and we are looking forward to throwing down a challenge to them. It has been 12 years since we won a county title and that’s a long time. We were hopeful in 2009 and 2013 but it didn’t go well in those finals but we are determined to do well on Sunday.
“Our preparations have gone well but it is difficult when you have so many dual players. I would be a bit concerned about the big gap (6 weeks) between playing the semi-final and final. That is something that will have to be looked at.
“Four Roads will be very difficult to beat. I have a feeling that they have their eye on winning the Connacht intermediate title this year and they have a great record in finals in recent years. But they have to be beaten some year and hopefully that will happen on Sunday! I have two great Oran men, Harry Crowley and Francie Quine, alongside me and if our lads can play up to their ability then we have a great chance but we know it will not be easy,” he concluded.
Four Roads will have to have an off day in a final one of these years, but who would bet on it happening this Sunday? The scare they got against Pearses in the semi-final will have woken them up and the cobwebs were blown away in the replay.
However, Oran come into the game on the back of an impressive semi-final win against Roscommon Gaels and will be determined to set the record straight and stop the rot in finals against Four Roads.
Several people have said to me in recent weeks that Four Roads will have to be beaten sometime and that this Oran team is the one to do it, but I never fail to marvel at the hunger for titles that is evident in Four Roads every year. It will be a tight game for sure, and while Oran have a great chance it is impossible to back against Four Roads to lift yet another title. Prediction: Four Roads