Connacht SFC Final Replay: Roscommon v Galway at Elvery’s MacHale Park, Castlebar on Sunday at 3.30 pm (ET if necessary)
In 1998, the last time when these sides played in a Connacht senior final, the game went to a replay which Galway won after extra-time. This weekend the sides go into battle again at MacHale Park with the Nestor Cup the prize once again. There is no point in saying anything other than the drawn game was a totally forgettable affair and both sides will have a chance to show a bit more ambition in Sunday’s replay.
Having looked at the game a number of times since Sunday, I am convinced that there is loads of improvement in this Roscommon team and they are well capable of throwing off the shackles and winning this replay. The words of Joe Brolly, who said last Sunday that “Galway will win the replay because Roscommon are useless and getting worse” should be a huge motivation for players and management – and if Roscommon can be more positive in their play they can win this replay.
Darren O’Malley did well on his return and he is almost certain to be retained as goalkeeper. The full-back line of Seanie McDermott, Sean Mullooly and Niall McInerney were excellent last weekend, and all should be retained, although it must be said that Danny Cummins was a threat last Sunday, scoring three points from play. John McManus had a great second half last Sunday and along with Davy Murray and Sean Purcell will expect to be chosen again in the half-back line. One slight concern was the lack of cover in the match day 26 in defence. There were only two defenders in the subs, Fergal Lennon (who has never played senior championship for Roscommon) and Niall Carty, who is just back for a year-long injury.
Niall Daly was excellent again at midfield but could there be a change of partner for the replay? Cathal Compton was picked there last weekend, but he was moved into the full-forward line. Thomas Corcoran also looked good when he came on last Sunday and is also an option and of course Enda Smith and maybe even Cathal Shine are contenders to partner Daly.
The attack misfired last Sunday but it was not a day for attackers on either side. The options available to the selectors here are many, but I would presume that Fintan Cregg, Ciaráin Murtagh, Conor Devaney, Cathal Cregg, David Keenan, Enda Smith and Cathal Cregg will all be considered for a starting place. Donie Smith looked sharp when he came on and of course there’s Senan Kilbride and Donie Shine too. Diarmuid Murtagh is another who, if fit, would be an automatic starter on any Roscommon team. Hopefully he will come into the reckoning too. The Roscommon attack will never play as poorly again and that’s what gives this writer great hope of a win in this replay.
Galway are an improving side and last Sunday Declan Kyne was outstanding at full-back, while Gary O’Donnell and Gareth Bradshaw were very impressive in the half-back line. Paul Conroy was also very effective at midfield while up front only Damien Comer and Danny Cummins made any significant headway.
The debate about negative tactics and the proliferation of the handpass in Gaelic football is a debate that should be held elsewhere, but the rules are what they are – so let’s concentrate on Sunday’s replay.
It’s my belief that if the Roscommon management can trust the players to do the right thing rather than being afraid to make a mistake, then the capacity for improvement is there for Roscommon to win this replay. We have loads of options – particularly up front – and if we can get an even break at midfield (which we did last Sunday) then Roscommon can win the replay.
Roscommon have had a few chastening experiences in MacHale Park over the years but we won the last time we played the Connacht final there (in 2010). In the famous words of Kieran Donaghy after a recent All-Ireland final it would be nice to be able to say “What do think about that Joe Brolly?” when it comes to 5.15 pm on Sunday evening. Roscommon to win.
Match odds: Roscommon 11/10 v Galway Evens; Draw 15/2.
Prediction: Roscommon by three points.