Seamus Duke’s Championship Watch

Hodson Bay Hotel SFC Semi-Finals

St. Brigid’s v Pádraig Pearses at Dr. Hyde Park on Saturday at 4.45 pm

Any way you look at this fixture it’s a mouth-watering prospect. It’s a battle between the winners of the last two titles, a repeat of last year’s final, and a match that will see some of the finest players in the county on view.

Having won the title in such style last year, it looked like Brigid’s would rule the club scene in the county for many years to come with such a young and talented team, however there was shockwaves throughout the county when they were well beaten by Oran in the first round. Was their 2020 success a flash in the pan?

In subsequent rounds, the Kiltoom men steadied themselves and qualified for the quarter-finals without any fuss. It has taken them a while to warm to this championship but they seem to be coming into form at the right time.

Pearses’ journey through this championship has been remarkably similar to that of Brigid’s. Pat Flanagan’s men were poor to say the least early on and they just about made it to the quarter finals. The big question was had this Pearses team, the first in the history of the club to win a senior championship, run out of steam?

Their performances against Tulsk and Boyle have given an emphatic answer to that question. Pearses won both matches easily and they seem to be making a championship run at just the right time.

This showdown is extremely difficult to call. However, I am going to give a slight preference to St. Brigid’s as they outsmarted a good Strokestown team to reach the last four while Pearses’ win against Boyle proved rather more straightforward. Prediction: St. Brigid’s


Clann na nGael v Roscommon Gaels at Dr. Hyde Park on Sunday at 4 pm

The outcome of this semi-final is much easier to predict, right? Wrong. Clann are deserved hot favourites, but they will need to be very careful not to take Roscommon Gaels for granted.

Clann have, for the most part, answered all the questions asked of them so far. They came from behind to beat Strokestown and they easily accounted for Pearses. They were poor against Western Gaels in a drawn match but they had already qualified for the quarter-finals at that stage.

But it was their performance against Michael Glavey’s that has made most people sit up and take notice. A magnificent 25 points and a totally dominant display has catapulted the Johnstown club into the ‘hot favourites’ position, not only to win on Sunday, but to capture the Fahey Cup as well.

The Gaels were well beaten by Boyle in the first round of fixtures while a late goal saw them scrape a narrow win against Elphin. They then managed just four points against Michael Glavey’s, but three crucial goals saw them over the line and into the last eight.

Against Oran, they played to their strengths; defending in numbers and attacking at pace to edge into the semi-finals by a point.

With several players out injured and more unavailable, it is a serious achievement for Deckie Hoare’s men to be still in the championship. They also have a number of very experienced players who are playing well.

This match is a clash of two wily managers. Liam Kearins will be determined to lead Clann to the title after the disappointment of last year while Deckie Hoare will have a plan to deny the rampant Clann attack.

One thing is for certain: Clann will not score 25 points in this game. However, looking at both teams, they have better players throughout and it is hard not to see them coming through by a few points. Prediction: Clann na nGael


Mulryan Construction IFC Semi-Finals

St. Dominic’s v Clann na nGael at Dr. Hyde Park on Saturday at 2.15 pm

The possibility of Clann na nGael winning both the senior and intermediate titles is still a very real one, and St. Dominic’s will have to be at their best to deny the Johnstown man a place in the final here.

Clann have several very experienced and accomplished performers throughout their team.

But Dominic’s have been motoring along nicely in the championship and they are fiercely determined to get back into the final after last year’s disappointment.

It’s difficult to split these two teams but I give a hesitant nod to Dominic’s who might just have the edge up front. Prediction: St. Dominic’s


Castlerea St. Kevin’s v St. Faithleach’s at Dr. Hyde Park on Sunday at 1.30 pm

This is another very attractive prospect this weekend. Castlerea have come in somewhat under the radar, but they are in the last four on merit and they were especially impressive in their win against Éire Óg in the quarter-finals.

Faithleach’s have discovered over the past two years that getting out of the Intermediate championship is not as easy as it might have looked when they were first relegated from the senior ranks.

They were given the fright of their lives by Fuerty in the quarter-finals and that searching test should stand to them on Sunday.

Castlerea will provide very tough opposition for Faithleach’s on Sunday but I fancy the Ballyleague side to go through. Prediction: St. Faithleach’s