The first round of the Roscommon SHC takes place this weekend with three games down for decision on Sunday. There are two groups again this year with the top two teams in Group A emerging to the semi-finals from the group of four teams.
The top team of three in Group B will play in the semi-finals while the rest will compete for the others semi-final spot from the losers group.
This year the groups are as follows: Group A: Roscommon Gaels, Padraig Pearses, Four Roads, Athleague. Group B Tremane, Oran, St Dominics.
This year Four Roads will be going for an unprecedented five titles in a row and it will take a good team to stop them too.
They have a very young team and manager Simon Coyle went with youth in 2011 and he was rewarded with a historic fourth title on the trot.
Padraig Pearses have been knocking on the door over the past four or five years and Athleague and Oran cannot be discounted either. St Dominicís, Roscommon Gaels and Tremane will put in a spirited effort but they look to have a mountain to climb if they want to be involved in the business end of the championship.
This weekends games: All games in Ballyforan on Sunday
Athleague v Roscommon Gaels at 3pm. Ref: A Clogher
Roscommon Gaels have been competitive in this championship in recent years without ever making the breakthrough. Noel Egan is the manager again this term and they have a number of excellent players led by county player Kenny Doolan and Cillian Egan. The Gaels have a strong underage set up and they will have a young team on duty on Sunday.
Athleague have plenty of well-known and experienced players like Garry Fallon, Colm Moran, Alan Moore, David Flaherty Robbie Fallon, Mervyn Connaughton, Tommy Reddington and Kevin Conneely. This will be a well-contested game but anything other than an Athleague win would be a shock
Four Roads v Padraig Pearses at 4.30pm Ref: K Mc Geeney
This will be the game of the weekend, as both sides will want to put down a marker for later in the summer.
Four Roads are going for five in a row titles and Pearses will consider that they are the sides best equipped to take the Mickey Conifer cup away from them.
Four Roads are always the team to beat in Roscommon hurling regardless of what year it is.
They have a very young team and this year they will have to do without a great servant to club and county Tomas Lennon who has retired from the game.
Four Roads can still call on the likes of the Roscommon county senior team players and they will be hopefully that they can get off to wining start here.
Pearses defeated then in the recent league final but that result was misleading because Four Roads were without eleven players who were on the county team.
Pearses have some excellent players who have been there in recent years at the business end of the championship and lads like the Loughnaneís, Dara Mulvey, Tomas Seale, Mike Donoghue and Cathal Kelly will be expected to line out on Sunday.
However with players like Johnny Coyne, Shane Curley, Michael Kelly, Brendan Kelly, John Moran, David Dolan, Damien Lohan just to name a few it will be a tough game to call.
Maybe Pearses might get the championship off to a flying start with a narrow win here.
Prediction: Padraig Pearses
Oran v St Dominicís at 1.30pm
Tremane are idle this week as the other two teams in the group go into action. Oran have been doing well in recent years without making the big breakthrough.
They were in the semi-finals last year and have some fine players and their county contingent led by Gerry Fallon, Shane McDermott, Padraig Crehan and the younger players make up a fine team that could do well this year. Although Oran have a number of injuries for Sundayís game.
St Dominicís have been struggling in the championship over the past few years but they will be hoping to do better this year.
They are relying on their younger contingent too and the absence of a number of players due to retirements and emigration is a major factor. Oran should win it.
Issue dated: 22 June 2012
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