Roscommon Gaels v Elphin on Saturday in Strokestown at 4.15 pm
Roscommon Gaels have been the most consistent team in the senior championship so far. Without being spectacular, they have gone about their business quietly and efficiently and have won their three games to date without much fuss. However, no one connected with the town club will need me to tell them that there is a lot of football to be played yet.
Elphin have been very much up and down in terms of form in this championship. I saw them play St. Brigid’s in round one and they were excellent and thoroughly deserved to win. Then in round two, and not for the first time in this championship, the formbook was turned upside down when Peter Carney’s men were surprised by St. Croan’s. Then in round three Elphin improved again, and a late Frankie Cregg point saw them into the quarter-finals after a dramatic draw against Fuerty.
The Gaels will be without Scott Oates and Cian Connolly again but have seen Mark Healy and Mark Nally return to the fold. The return from injury this year of Brian Kelly and Ciaran Kilcline and the arrival of Ronan Carolan has strengthened the Gaels attack.
Elphin will be hoping that Fintan Cregg will be fit and he, alongside Enda and Shane Killoran and Gerry and Frankie Cregg, will carry the biggest threat for them.
It may not be as one-sided as a lot of people think but it would be a shock if the Gaels do not advance to the last four. They look the better-balanced outfit all over the field.
Prediction: Roscommon Gaels
Boyle v Michael Glavey’s on Saturday in Castlerea at 5.30pm
This is another very interesting tie. Glavey’s exploded onto the scene this year and looked a very good side in their opening game against St. Faithleach’s. But they were pegged back by a resurgent Strokestown in round two before running into an in-form Roscommon Gaels in round three.
Boyle have been impressive and are a lot of people’s dark horses for the championship this year. They were unlucky to concede two late goals against Pearses in their first game before they handed out a thrashing to Clann na nGael in what was the performance of the championship so far. In the third match they scored 3-16 but it was only good enough for a draw against Western Gaels.
In the game of Gaelic football it is so important to have good forwards and Boyle have three outstanding attacking players in Donie and Enda Smith and Cian McKeon. They also have Seanie Purcell, Evan McGrath and Tadgh McKenna at the back, who are all excellent performers too.
Michael Glavey’s will be hoping that the likes of Gary Patterson, Caoileann Fitzmaurice, Conor Hussey, Liam Cregg, and Andy Glennon can lead from the front and they will certainly have to improve on their display against the Gaels to win here.
This could be a cracking match but I favour the attacking threat that Boyle have and they should prevail by three or four points.
Pádraig Pearses v St. Brigid’s on Sunday in Ballyforan at 2 pm
This should draw a huge crowd as one of the title favourites Pearses clash with their old rivals St. Brigid’s, who will relish going into the match as underdogs. Brigid’s are certainly not the team that they were, but they have shown enough in the last two games to suggest that they can cause Pearses plenty of problems.
Pearses are very solid defensively, and with the Daly brothers and Davy Murray all playing well, it will take a good team to put up a winning score against them.
However, Pearses are not as strong as they would like to be up front and they are very reliant on Paul Carey and Hubert Darcy. At the start of this campaign they were many people’s favourites to win the title but they have yet to show the form that will be required to bring the Fahey Cup to Taughmaconnell and Moore for the first time.
The return of Senan Kilbride is a huge boost for Brigid’s and with Eddie Nolan, Gearoid Cunniffe, Niall McInerney, Ian Kilbride, Ronan Stack, Eoin Sheehy and Brian Stack all playing well it would be a foolish person to dismiss their chances.
Brigid’s ran riot against St. Croan’s and held on grimly against Western Gaels last weekend. Nothing would give them greater pleasure than to knock out Pearses, but Pat Flanagan’s men are hard to break down and may just have the strength to withstand what has been an impressive Brigid’s resurgence after a poor start to the campaign. Pearses to win by a point or two.
Prediction: Pádraig Pearses
Fuerty v Strokestown on Sunday in Dr. Hyde Park at 4.15pm
This looks the tightest of the four quarter-finals. Strokestown have improved as the championship has gone on and one wonders how far they could have gone if the likes of Kevin Finn, Cathal Compton and Thomas Corcoran and Sean Mullooly had been playing.
In their vital clash with St. Faithleach’s, David Neary, Paddy Brogan and Colin Compton were excellent, however this will be a much tougher test. Fuerty are a very balanced side and are well organised and have a nice blend throughout their team.
They are certainly not a one man side, and although Niall Kilroy is very important to them, the Bannons, Aengus Lyons, Ger Ennis and Philip Neilan have been superb all year. It has been a magnificent first season in the senior ranks for Fuerty and to be in the last eight as group winners is a marvellous achievement.
There won’t be a lot between these two teams but I like the look of Fuerty who have good players in every line of their team. It will take a huge effort for Strokestown to win here. I fancy that the fairytale for Fuerty can go on at least for one more match.