Oran stand in the Road!

Oran will attempt to stop Four Roads’ bid for nine senior hurling titles in a row
Kepak Roscommon SHC Final Replay: Four Roads v Oran on Saturday in Athleague at 3 pm

In a year of draws in Roscommon GAA there will be huge interest in this replay, as Four Roads bid for nine senior titles in a row remains on track after a breathtaking comeback in the drawn match against Oran.

  The conventional wisdom is that you only get one chance at beating Four Roads and many teams have found this to be true over the years and it is hard to argue with that as well. The evidence is there.

   Oran are looking for their first title since 2004 and they must have thought that they had finally broken this amazing championship run of Four Roads when they lead by seven points at half-time in the drawn game. But in time honoured fashion Four Roads found a way to draw level deep into injury-time. Four Roads always seem to find a way.

  It will take a mighty effort from Oran if they are to wrest the title away from Four Roads. They scored three goals in the drawn game and Four Roads do not concede three goals in a championship game too often. It is unlikely that the challengers will score three more goals on Saturday.

  But Oran will point to the fact that they needed a tough championship game after six weeks of inactivity and they will be hoping that the drawn game will have brought them on. Colm Kelly and his ‘wing men’ Harry Crowley and Francie Quine will have a big job to convince the Oran payers that this final is still very much in the melting pot. They played in a number of championship final winning teams against Four Roads over the years and that will be important in the preparations for this replay.

   Oran were very impressive in that first half and Mark Gunning, Enda Morris, and Kevin Crehan will have to try to put the shackles on Johnny Coyne and the Four Roads full-forward line this time again.

   Thomas Fetherston is Oran’s main man and if he turns it on Oran will be in with a great chance. Jerry Fallon’s free taking will be vital again and Gearoid Keenan’s ball winning ability will be crucial. Inside, Cathal Kenny, Shane McDermott and David Ryan will have to get more scores if Oran are to win this replay. Padraig Crehan might also be an option to start for Oran in this replay.

  Remember too that five Oran players will have been involved in the intermediate football final replay last weekend that went to extra-time. They have played a lot of football and hurling in recent weeks. The hope will be that they have one last huge effort left.

  Four Roads never panicked in the drawn game and they will be very confident that they can win this replay. Mark McLoughlin will lead from full-back as usual with Ciaran Dowd and John Rogerson also in the full-back line. Shane Curley was magnificent in the drawn game and Micheal Kelly and Conor Coyle will complete a very strong looking half back line.

   Conor Mulry and Johnny Moran will battle for midfield supremacy. Up front, Johnny Coyne will be the focus at at full forward, His scoring ability vital for the champions. Cathal Dolan and David Dolan will be hoping to repeat their excellent displays in the first game. Four Roads have loads of options.

  Oran are the one team that always put it up to Four Roads and their management team will drill it into their players that this in a final that can be won. However, it is impossible to ignore the pedigree and the street-wise championship know how of Four Roads. I am looking forward to a tight game but I am giving the nod to Four Roads to keep the Mickey Cunniffe Cup in Tisrara for the ninth year in a row.

Prediction: Four Roads.