Sundayís Shannonside FM Roscommon SFC semi-final double bill at Hyde Park begins with Elphin v Kilbride (3.30 pm) followed at 5 pm by a mouth-watering prospect with champions St. Brigids meeting Western Gaels. Elphin reached last yearís final and although they were beaten by St Brigids, they did well on the day. Elphin have plenty of good players, whose experience may prove vital.
Ronan Brady and Paddy OíConnor will be the mainstays of the Elphin defence but the loss through injury of Conor Berne could be crucial to their chances on Sunday. Brian Cregg and Shane Tiernan will have a vital role as the midfield partnership and they will be pitted against a very competitive Kilbride duo. Up front Fintan Cregg is the main man and the pivotal player on the Elphin team. Colm Rock is out through injury and is a big loss but Frankie Cregg, Michael Glancy and Kevin Brady will certainly feature with the likelihood that young Gerry Cregg will feature in attack too.
Kilbride are not without experience either. Up front Gerry and Eddie Lohan have been turning back the years with some great displays with both playing really well this year. Conor Devanney is also playing well and will be another hugely important player on Sunday.
Elphin should be favourites to win as they are by far the more experienced team in terms of having been in last yearís final but If the Kilbride midfield partnership can get enough ball into Conor Devanney and the Lohans, maybe Kilbride can win by a point or two and upset the odds. The injuries to lads like Colm Rock, Eanna Tiernan and Conor Beirne could be crucial and may cost Elphin on the day. Donít rule out a draw either.
Match odds (courtesy of Sherco Bookmakers, Castle Street, Roscommon): Elphin 4/6 v Kilbride 7/5; Draw 7/1.
St Brigids v Western Gaels: If there is any team in the county capable of testing the mettle of St Brigids, then itís Western Gaels. The Gaels had not been convincing at all until they played Castlerea in the quarter-final and they look to be improving at just the right time of the season. They have many superb players on their team but all those players will have to be in top form if they are to have any chance of knocking Brigids out on Sunday.
Seanie McDermott, Ciaran Cafferkey, Adrian Freyne, Michael Higgins, Derek Moran, Cathal Cregg and Kevin Higgins are all top class players but they will need a full team effort on Sunday.
Brigids look to be cruising along at the own pace. They were less than convincing in their games so far with the notable exception of the one against Western Gaels in the group stages. That day they put down a serious marker for the rest of the championship with a comprehensive win.
Brigids have class players in every line and Robbie Kelly (an injury doubt), Darragh Donnelly, Niall Grehan, Peter Domican, Karol Mannion, Cathal McHugh, Frankie Dolan and Senan Kilbride are just some of the names that trip off the tongue when talking about this very talented Brigids team.
Against Strokestown last weekend Karol Mannion and Frankie Dolan made the bullets for Senan Kilbride and the brilliant full-forward was almost unmarkable, rattling home two top class goals. Itís hard to know is there any way of stopping him. If there is a way of marking him then Western Gaels might be on their way.
Western Gaels would dearly love to upset Brigids but looking at the subs bench the champions have so many options and with Frankie Dolan and Senan Kilbride up front I expect them to edge past a gallant Gaels team by a few points en route to another final.
Match odds (courtesy of Sherco Bookmakers, Castle Street, Roscommon): Western Gaels 5/2 v St Brigids 4/11; Draw 15/2.
Prediction: St Brigids.