The big throw-in!

Shannonside FM SFC 1st Round:  Previews by Seamus Duke  Padraig Pearses v St. Aidans (on Saturday in Pairc an Piarsaigh at 7 pm) This local derby will be well fought and keenly contested. The three teams in this group (it includes Elphin) are confident of making it through to the quarter-finals. Every game in this group will be tough. St. Aidans have improved in recent weeks and they will give this local derby everything. Pearses have been in the last two semi-finals and they have plenty of good young footballers, having won the minor title last year. They should have the edge in this local derby. Key Players – Padraig Pearses: Damien Donnellan, John Whyte, Niall Carty, Michael Duignan, Sean Fahy, Dennis Whyte. St. Aidans – David Hoey, Francie Grehan, Eamonn McCormack, David Thompson, Keith Waldron. The Managers – Padraig Pearses: Eamonn Mahon; St. Aidans: Ned Burns.  Prediction: Pearses (narrowly).  St. Faithleachs v Western Gaels (on Saturday at Ballyleague at 7.30 pm) This is the game of the weekend in the SFC and a mouth-watering prospect. Faithleach’s have been in the final the past two years and they have Seamus Qualter as manager this year. The former Westmeath hurling manager is a very experienced man on the line and he will be a big help to Faithleachs. Western Gaels have now reached a position where they are expected to challenge for the title and the recent Leo Kenny Cup win will be a boost to them. They certainly have the players to cause a stir in the championship this year. This is an incredibly hard game to call. I have a feeling that Faithleachs might scrape through but that Western Gaels will have a say later in the championship. Key Players – St. Faithleachs: Gary Cox, Ray Cox, Martin Reynolds, Stephen Ormsby, Aidan Dooney, Enda Kenny. Western Gaels: Seanie McDermott, Cathal Cregg, Derek Moran, John Nolan, Kevin Higgins. The Managers – St. Faithleachs: Seamus Qualter; Western Gaels: John Donnellan Prediction: St. Faithleachs, narrowly.  Roscommon Gaels v Kilmore (on Sunday at Hyde Park at 2 pm) This is another very interesting game and a hard one to call. Kilmore are certainly the form team of the two when it comes to the league but despite a bad league run, Roscommon Gaels have been showing signs of a return to form in recent weeks. They have a lot of players missing or injured but they have a number of good young players too and this game looks evenly balanced. The midfield battle will probably decide it and while I know that I would be a little biased on this one, I think that the Gaels will be hard to beat in Hyde Park. There will not be much in it though. Key Players – Roscommon Gaels: Brian McNeela, David O’Gara, John Nolan, Enda Daly, Paul Gleeson. Kilmore: Donal Carroll, Derek Connellan, Paul Garvey, Colm Garvey, Emmett Flood.  The Managers – Roscommon Gaels: Michael Menton; Kilmore: Anthony Carroll.  Prediction: Roscommon Gaels, narrowly.  St. Brigids v Strokestown (on Sunday at Kiltoom at 4.15 pm) Last year’s quarter-final was a great game of championship football and Strokestown were left cursing their luck as Karol Mannion’s last-gasp penalty decided the issue. Strokestown were unlucky that day and it would appear that this year they are not going so well, in the league at least. Strokestown are a great championship outfit but I think it is also fair to say that it would be a shock of monumental proportions if Strokestown were to defeat St. Brigids in their own home pitch. If Brigids have a full team or anywhere near it, then they should win this game. It’s as simple as that. Key players – St. Brigids: Shane Curran, Karol Mannion, Mark O’Carroll, Frankie Dolan, Cathal McHugh, Senan Kilbride (and many more). Strokestown: Ronan Owens, Morgan Beirne, John Rogers, Conor Silke. The Managers: Strokestown: Dessie Barry; St. Brigids: Anthony Cunningham.  Prediction: St. Brigids.  George Bannon Sports Intermediate Football Championship 1st Round St. Croans v St. Michaels (on Saturday at Ballintubber at 7.30 pm) A tight call here between two teams that will be dissappointed if they do not get to the semi-finals at least this year. Croans have been to the final and the semi-finals in recent years and they are one of the strongest teams in the championship despite the fact that they are missing players though injury and emigration which will weaken them a little. St. Michaels were unlucky not to progress last year, losing out to Michael Glaveys in the quarter-final by only two points. I expect both teams to qualify from this group but Croans (being at home) might just shade this one. Key Players – St. Croans: Shane Lannon, Marin Towey, Eamonn Towey. St. Michaels: Niall Cox, Alan O’Hara, Ronan Cox. The Managers: St. Croans: Padraig Conoma; St. Michaels: Sean Kennedy Prediction: St Croans, narrowly.  Kilbride v Boyle (on Sunday at Kilbride at 4.15 pm) Kilbride were surprisingly relegated from the senior football championhip last year and they will be eager to get back there very quickly indeed. They should start with a win against a Boyle side who have gone through the mill in the past two years with several players emigrating and the experience of being  relegated into the Tansey Cup. Wwith the players they have Kilbride should be too strong. Key Players – Kilbride: Conor Devanney, Seamus O’Neill, Stephen Lohan. Boyle: Niall O’Donoghue, David Casey, Tadgh Egan. The Managers – Kilbride: Gerry Clarke; Boyle: John Bruen.  Prediction: Kilbride.