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Champions Corofin show steel and ‘Silke’

 

 

 

AIB Connacht Club SFC Final

 

Corofin 1-10

Pádraig Pearses 0-7

Big games at this level are usually decided by big incidents and this Connacht club final in Tuam last Sunday was no different. When the game resumed after the half-time break Pádraig Pearses played their best football of the contest. Young Paul Carey had kicked two mighty points (one a long-rage free) to reduce the margin to just one and the huge Pearses following were on their feet.

  Five minutes in, Conor Daly played a lovely pass over the top of the Corofin defence and younger brother Ronan was through on goal. But he blasted wide and a glorious chance had gone a-begging.

  Seven minutes later (in the 43rd minute) Corofin attacked with pace and power, Jason Leonard played a sumptuous pass to Ian Burke who in turn set up Liam Silke and the corner back blasted to the Pearses net for a brilliant goal. Less than a minute later another deadly raid from the champions saw Daithi Burke’s fisted effort come back off the crossbar but Martin Farragher was following up to score a point. In the blink of an eye they were four ahead and the writing was on the wall for Pat Flanagan’s men. That was the difference between these two sides.

  It was not a great game of football to be honest, and the first half in particular was fractious and niggly with scores at a premium and there was precious little good football to be seen by the huge crowd who were there at this splendid venue.

  The second half was far better, and Pearses played some great stuff in the third quarter and carried the game to the champions, which was great to see. But the word panic is not one that Corofin recognise and they knew that a couple of pieces of magic would get them out of the tight corner they were in, and that’s what happened.

  Pearses were hemmed into their own half for most of the first period and they only managed two points and both of those were from placed balls. It wasn’t that Corofin were shooting the lights out either, with just two of their five points coming from play. Pearses’ cause was not helped when Niall Carty had to go off for a black card he received after pulling down Kieran Molloy in the 18th minute.  

  Indeed, Corofin’s Conor Cunningham was also sidelined for a black card offence in the 26th minute. It was a stop-start half littered with frees and was poor quality entertainment.

  However, a football match did break out after half-time and Pearses were tremendous on the restart. Paul Carey was on target with two points from long range and when Niall Daly and Ronan Daly kicked two great points by the 40th minute it looked like we were in for a cracking finish.

  But Corofin struck for that vital Liam Silke goal and points from Farragher and another from Jason Leonard saw the gap at five with ten minutes to go and Corofin do not lose five point leads in big games, it’s as simple as that.

  Shane Carty, Anthony Butler, Niall Daly and Ronan Daly were excellent for a gallant Pearses on the day, but their best performer was young Paul Carey who was marked by no less a player than Kieran Molloy and he gave the Corofin star a torrid time, especially in the second half.

  For Corofin, Kieran Fitzgerald, Liam Silke, Daithi Burke, Jason Leonard and sub Dylan McHugh were impressive and although it was not a vintage performance, they will still be the team to beat when the All-Ireland series comes around after Christmas.

  For Pearses, it has been a marvellous year. Their first ever Roscommon SFC title and a Connacht final appearance against one of the greatest club teams of all time, and they went toe to toe with them and gave them plenty to think about for three quarters of the game. It may have ended in defeat but there was no disgrace losing to this magnificent Corofin outfit.

 

Corofin: Bernard Power; Cathal Silke, Kieran Fitzgerald, Liam Silke (1-0); Daithi Burke, Conor Cunningham, Dylan Wall (0-1); Kieran Molloy, Ronan Steede (0-1); Gary Sice (0-2, 2 frees), Michael Farragher (0-2), Jason Leonard (0-3, 1 free); Ian Burke, Martin Farragher, Michael Lundy.

Subs: Dylan McHugh for Cunningham (28, b/c), Darragh Silke for Lundy (44), Colin Brady (0-1) for C Silke (44), Gavin Burke for Wall (56), Dylan Canney for Steede (59) (blood), Ciaran McGrath for Martin Farragher (60), Dean Hynes for Michael Farragher (64).

 

Pádraig Pearses: Paul Whelan; Shane Carty, Anthony Butler, Mark Richardson; Gavin Downey, Davy Murray, Ronan Daly (0-1); Niall Carty, Conor Daly; Paul Carey (0-3, 2 frees), Lorcan Daly, Niall Daly (0-1); Emmet Kelly (0-1 ’45), Hubert Darcy (0-1, a free), Conor Payne.

Subs: Tom Butler for N Carty (20, b/c), Seanie Fahy for Kelly (53), Alan Duffy for S Carty (54, b/c), Shane Mulvey for L Daly (63), James Kelly for Payne (63).

 

Referee: Eamonn O’Grady (Leitrim)

 

Seamus Duke on sport - November 29th

 

 

Corofin end Pearses’ historic year

So Pádraig Pearses’ season has come to an end, but when they look back on 2019 they can reflect on a year that few associated with the club will ever forget. It was the year they finally brought the Fahey Cup back to Taughmaconnell, Creagh and Moore, and not only that, but they also reached a Connacht club final and went toe to toe with one of the greatest club teams of all time for 45 minutes.

  Corofin just had an edge in terms of big-time experience and they knew what to do when they were under pressure. But Pearses gave a good account of themselves and there is no disgrace losing to this Corofin team.

  It will be interesting to see now if Pearses will be eager to follow up their success in 2019 next year. It will certainly be competitive.  

  Clann na nGael have appointed Liam Kearns for 2020 and they will surely be back challenging for honours. St. Brigid’s are also a very good side with loads of young talent on the way up. Roscommon Gaels will surely have another cut at the title too, while Boyle and Western Gaels will also have designs on winning in 2020.

  If Pearses are determined to show that they were not just a flash in the pan in 2019 they will surely be the team to beat again next summer.

  On the national scene, Corofin seem to blossom on the All-Ireland stage every year. I didn’t see Ballyboden St. Enda’s last weekend but by all accounts, they were very impressive also.

  There will be Roscommon interest in the Munster final on Sunday, meanwhile, as James McDermott lines out for Nemo Rangers against Clonmel Commercials.

  The club championships have come up trumps again this year with two Carlow sides into the Leinster senior finals in football and hurling. Every year there are new names coming to the fore and it’s great to see.     

  Before I leave the club championships, what a great venue Tuam Stadium is to go to for a match. They have made several improvements there with new seating, and are all the time upgrading their facilities. Needless to say, I would have Tuam any day in preference to Pearse Stadium. I hope that they keep upgrading the stadium and maybe the powers that be will play some Connacht championship games there in the future.

 

Provinces impress against French teams

 

It was a super weekend of European rugby with Irish teams all playing French opposition. Connacht lost out to Toulouse but it was a good display from Andy Friend’s men, and  they can look forward to two crucial Champions Cup games against Gloucester in December.

  I was ever so impressed by Ulster against Clermont-Auvergne. It was a great win and John Cooney was super at scrum-half. He could put Conor Murray under pressure on the national team if he keeps up his form of late.

  The game of the weekend, however, was at Thomond Park between Munster and Racing ’92. The home side did well to get a share of the spoils against a very impressive Racing side. Leinster, meanwhile, did what they had to do against Lyon without being very impressive.

  The Champions Cup is shaping up very well for Irish teams and it would be fantastic if all four could make it into the quarter-finals. But there is a lot of water to flow under the bridge before we come to that.

 

Will Ole hang on at Old Trafford?

 

Interesting times in the English Premier League with Mauricio Pochettino getting the sack at Tottenham Hotspur and Mourinho appointed almost before the ink was dry on his P45.

  People who read this column will know what I think of José Mourinho: it’s all about him. However, I will say that he is an intelligent man and he has had almost a year to sit back and look at the mistakes he made at Manchester United and he will be making sure he does not repeat them at Spurs.

  It looks like Unai Emery at Arsenal, Marco Silva at Everton and Manuel Pellegrini at West Ham are all on borrowed time, in fact there may even be one of those three out of work by the time this is published!

  I didn’t add Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to that list because Manchester United’s three late goals against Sheffield United last Sunday has given him a temporary reprieve. But in the first 70 minutes United were absolutely terrible. They are making no progress whatsoever. The late surge has only papered over the cracks. Should they go for broke and sack Solskjaer and recruit Pochettino? I would say no at this stage. I would give Ole until the end of the season.

  In the meantime, Liverpool are marching towards the title. They have luck on their side for sure, but that’s all part of a title-winning season.

 

Battling Rahm is Europe’s number one

 

The finish of the DP Championship in Dubai was great stuff to watch as the young Spaniard, Jon Rahm, battled his way to the title and to the number one spot in Europe. He needed a birdie at the par five 18th hole to win and he duly obliged – out of the sand too! He could become one of the all-time greats as he is only a young man yet.

  Shane Lowry finished fourth in the race to be Europe’s number one but he will not be too disappointed because he has had an unbelievable year.

  I’d say that if you offered Shane a win in Dubai, the British Open title, being in contention a number of times over the year, and a place in the world’s top 20 last January he would have snapped your hand off. He has set his sights on being on the Ryder Cup team next September and he has a great temperament for team golf and would be a big asset to Padraig Harrington.

Choppy waters ahead for the GAA

I fear that the GAA are heading for very choppy waters in 2020 and fixtures are going to be the biggest cause of the trouble. I have already pointed out the problems that talented young players aged 18, 19 and 20 are going to have in January, which for that cohort of players, is looking like the busiest month of the year.

  Last week the GPA pulled out of the Fixtures Task Force and they were right to do so. A radical overhaul is needed of the fixture list so that there can be a meaningful calendar of games for the vast majority who play club football and hurling. Elitism has completely taken over in the GAA and the likes of the GPA and the corporate big wigs in the GAA couldn’t care less about club players and club competitions. The GAA should get the GPA back on board because what has happened up to now simply will not work.

  It is also interesting to read with every passing week the views of players from some of the ‘weaker counties’ about the Tier 2 football championship. As far as I can see, there is a big majority who are against this new competition which is being seen as a vanity project for GAA President John Horan. The fact that he wants to have the introduction of this new competition on his CV is not a good enough reason to be playing it. There is a very, very interesting year ahead.

 

Hoop-loopy John lifts the FAI Cup!

 

 

 

An old five-a-side sparring partner of mine, Mick Egan, was in contact earlier this week to inform me of a very special visitor to Boyle recently. The Irish Daily Mail FAI Cup arrived at the home of life-long Shamrock Rovers supporter John Murphy on Saturday night last before popping in to Daly’s Pub for a tipple afterwards.

  Mick himself is a big Shamrock Rovers fan and a driving force behind the Roscommon Hoops Supporters Club which follows the great League of Ireland club around the country.

  The Hoops won the cup for the 25th time in their history in dramatic circumstances against champions Dundalk at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin last month following a long 32-year wait since number 24.

  Needless to say, a Rovers fanatic and member of the Roscommon Hoops Supporters Club, John Murphy was over the moon when his friends in football from both Roscommon and Dublin arranged for the trophy to come to Boyle.

  A great night of celebration was enjoyed as the local soccer supporters paid tribute to Shamrock Rovers’ latest success.

 

Short Passes…

 

 

 

 

 

 

League fixtures announced!

Roscommon’s National Football and Hurling League fixtures were announced earlier this week.

  The footballers will compete in NFL Division 2 next year: Laois (H) at 2 pm on January 26th; Fermanagh (A) at 2 pm on February 2nd; Clare (H) at 2 pm on February 9th; Kildare (A) at 2.30 pm on February 23rd; Westmeath (H) at 2 pm on March 1st; Armagh (A) at 6.30 pm on March 14th; Cavan (A) at 2 pm on March 22nd.

  The hurlers will take part in NFL Division 2B: Warwickshire (H) at 1 pm on January 25th; Down (A) at 12.30 pm on February 2nd; London (H) at 1 pm on February 16th; Kildare (A) at 12.30 pm on February 23rd and Derry (H) at 2 pm on March 1st.

‘Keeper dilemma!

The Roscommon senior footballers will start 2020 with a goalkeeping dilemma as Darren O’Malley and Colm Lavin have both gone abroad and James Fetherstone is unavailable. It means that Aaron Brady of Elphin will be the number one contender while Mark Miley, an All-Ireland minor winner in 2006, could also be included in Anthony Cunningham’s plans.

No Murtaghs?

There is speculation that neither Ciaráin Murtagh nor his brother Diarmuid will be returning to training with the Roscommon senior footballers ahead of the new season. Both brothers were out of action in recent years, with Ciaráin opting out in 2019 in order to travel to the USA during the summer. Diarmuid, meanwhile, was out with a serious eye injury and only returned to action during the summer.

Tulsk’s manager search

Tulsk Lord Edwards will be on the lookout for a new manager as they prepare to play in the Hodson Bay Hotels Senior Football Championship in 2020 as Gerry Lohan, Seamie O’Neill and the selectors have stepped down from Intermediate champions after three years at the helm.

Fixtures Motion passed

It was proposed at Tuesday’s monthly County Board meeting by Kilmore delegate Tommie Kenoy that the recommendations of the GAA Fixtures Review Task Force are issued to all County Boards by the Director General for consideration by the clubs in advance of being brought before Central Council for decision.

  The purpose of the motion, Mr. Kenoy said is to force the GAA to issue the recommendation to all clubs for consideration so that they can mandate their Central Council delegates. It was unanimously passed.

Finneran stays on

Michael Finneran will be in charge of the Roscommon Ladies senior football team again in 2020. It will be the St. Dominic’s man’s fourth year in the job and the appointment will be widely welcomed.

  Roscommon Ladies open their Lidl National Football League Division Three campaign with a home game against Sligo on January 26th before hosting Laois on February 2nd. They then travel to Fermanagh on February 9th, and Down on February 23rd before hosting Kildare on March 1st. They will finish with two away fixtures, against Wicklow on March 22nd and Longford on March 29th. 

Camogie presentation night

Roscommon Camogie will host an evening of celebration this Sunday (December 1st) as the successful U-16 team will be presented with their All-Ireland medals at a function in the Hodson Bay Hotel.

  This is the first Roscommon U-16 team to win an All-Ireland title and the team have already been recognised by Roscommon County Council, where they are invited to attend the civic reception in December.

  The U-14 county development squad will also receive their All-Ireland runners-up medals on the night.

  Galway All Star Niamh Kilkenny will be the guest of honour. Niamh was named as Player of the Match in this year’s final as Galway won the All-Ireland title. She also won the Camogie Player of the Year for 2019.

 

 

 

 

 

Shield success for young Rossies

 

 

 

Fr. Manning Shield Final

Roscommon 1-12

Armagh 0-10

 

Stephen Sheeran’s Roscommon side were the deserved winners of the Fr. Manning Shield final against Armagh in Glennon Brothers’ Pearse Park last Saturday. It was an impressive display from the young Rossies who were the better side throughout.

  With Eoin Colleran, Conor Hand, Darren Gately and Mark Watson playing well, Roscommon took over proceedings in the second quarter and by half-time they led by 0-8 to 0-2.

  Armagh did improve somewhat in the third quarter but four points without reply from Ian Harney, Conor Reilly and two from Eoin Colleran put Roscommon back on track and when young Colleran scored a fine goal late on, it was no more than Roscommon deserved on the balance of play.

Roscommon: C McPherson; C Keogh, A McManus, M Sugrue; R Doyle, S Joyce, E Ward; C Hand (0-2), M Watson; D Meeley, I Harney (0-1), A Shannon (0-1); J Shine (0-1), E Colleran (1-5), D Gatey (0-1). Subs: C Reilly (0-1) for Meeley, D Kenny for Shannon, E Hoban for Watson, S Martin for Shine, T Lennon for Gately, D Farrell for Hand, F Hester for Sugrue, J Tumulty for Ward.

 

 

Dooner's weekend predictions - November 29th

 

 

 

The very best of luck to Premier Division side Ballinasloe Town who face a difficult trip to Waterford to take on Villa FC in the fifth round of the New Balance FAI Junior Cup this Sunday.

 

Friday, November 29th

RDFL Premier Division

Skyvalley Rovers v Boyle Celtic. 8.15 pm           

The visitors will be favourites to take all three points.

Prediction: Boyle Celtic

Norio’s Takeaway Division One

Castlerea Celtic B v Dunmore Town. 8.15 pm           

The hosts should have enough to see off Dunmore.

Prediction: Castlerea Celtic B

RDFL Division Two

Ballinasloe Town B v St. John’s Athletic B. 2 pm

Home win.

Prediction: Ballinasloe Town B

Saturday, November 30th

RDFL Premier Division

Ballymoe FC v Castlerea Celtic. 8 pm           

Ballymoe enjoyed a very good result last weekend against Ballinasloe Town. They’ll certainly have to produce a similar performance this Saturday to have any chance of getting another result.

Prediction: Castlerea Celtic

RDFL Division Two (8 pm)

Boyle Celtic B v Cloonfad United B

Both sides have struggled for consistency this season.

Prediction: Draw

Glen Celtic v Moore United B           

The Glenamaddy outfit remains an unstoppable force in this division.

Prediction: Glen Celtic

Skyvalley Rovers B v Ballaghaderreen FC B

Home win.

Prediction: Skyvalley Rovers B

Sunday, December 1st

New Balance FAI Junior Cup (Round 5)

Villa FC v Ballinasloe Town. 2 pm           

The hosts have struggled at times this season but should provide a stern test for Ballinasloe Town.

Prediction: Ballinasloe Town

RDFL Premier Division (2 pm)

St. Peter’s FC v Moylough ‘79

The champions should maintain their unbeaten record.

Prediction: St. Peter’s FC           

Kilkerrin United v Moore United

Home win.

Prediction: Kilkerrin United            

Norio’s Takeaway Division One (2 pm)

Ballaghaderreen FC v Roscommon United

If you’re in the area on Sunday this game could well be worth a watch. The hosts are flying while United always provide entertainment. Three players expected to be involved have a whopping 41 goals between them (Jamie Bracken 17; Danny Browne 14; Vando 10). This could be any score but the hosts are favourites.

Prediction: Ballaghaderreen FC

CP Ajax v Cloonfad United

The visitors can’t afford any slip-ups as Dysart and Ballaghaderreen ramp up the pressure.

Prediction: Cloonfad United            

RDFL Division Two (2 pm)

At Ballinagare: Manor United v Ballymoe FC B

Tom Ward (13 goals) is on form for a Manor side looking to push up the table.

Prediction: Manor United

St. Cuan’s United v Roscommon United B

A real basement battle and St. Cuan’s will be hoping to avoid switching places with the visitors (who are certainly improving) at the bottom of the table.

Prediction: St. Cuan’s United

 

Creggs earn bonus point win over Buccs

 

 

 

 

 

Connacht Junior 1A League

Creggs 38

Buccaneers 21

 

This game, which followed on immediately from the official opening of the new facilities, proved more than worthy of the occasion.

  Buccaneers made it clear they meant business right from the kick-off and for the opening ten minutes Creggs were under pressure before Shane Purcell opened the scoring with a penalty goal.

  The next ten minutes followed a similar pattern with Buccaneers enjoying a significant advantage in terms of both territory and possession but Creggs pulled further away when Elliot Jennings broke a tackle before sending his fellow centre, Shane Dowd, on a searing run which took him from left field at the half-way line to touch down at the right corner flag. A magnificent score was capped by a terrific touchline conversion.

  The game then reverted to Creggs soaking up further Buccaneers pressure before Dowd struck again, this time slicing through the cover from close range to score between the posts with Purcell adding the extras again.

  Buccaneers were seventeen points down but in no mood to surrender and their tight-head Ruairi Byrne scored a try few which was converted by out-half Michael Hanley.

  Creggs pulled away again six minutes later when a beautifully measured kick from Purcell was gathered by his chasing full-back Ronan Dowd who scored between the posts, Purcell converting.

  On the stroke of full-time Creggs secured their bonus point, Jennings again making the crucial break with Purcell prodding through a grubber kick which Kevin Gavin collected at the corner flag, Purcell adding the conversion from the left touchline to match his earlier one from the right.

  A half-time score of 31-7 was harsh on Buccaneers who had more than matched their opponents.

  To their credit, Buccaneers battled on and in many respects Creggs failed to repeat the intensity in the second half. Byrne added a second try, again converted by Hanley and when Shane Dowd left the field on a questionable yellow after 21 minutes, Buccaneers capitalised with a third try from hooker Ronan Grenham, again converted by Hanley.

  At this stage, they looked set to secure at least one losing bonus point but Creggs prop Tom Fleming showed some deft footwork to cross between the posts on 37 minutes, Purcell adding the conversion to make it six from six and Buccaneers left with nothing.

  The teams will meet again in Dubarry Park on Saturday week at 7 pm. The win leaves Creggs in second place, five points behind Connemara who notched up another bonus point win over Sligo at the weekend.

 

 

Creggs’ big opening day a huge success

 

 

 

Last Saturday was one the greatest days in the history of Creggs Rugby Club as the club celebrated the opening of its fantastic new playing pitches and facilities in the village.

  Around 350 boys (from Creggs, Carrick-on-Shannon RFC, and Claremorris RFC) and 50 girls (from Creggs, Dunmore RFC and Claremorris RFC) took part in a Mini Rugby Blitz on the four playing pitches (including the full-sized World Rugby approved 4G artificial all-weather pitch).

  Later, several Creggs youth teams played Connacht League and friendly games, including a great performance from the Creggs U-16 team who defeated league leaders Ballinasloe by 36-19.

  The Development team and a large number of former players (Creggs Legends) then entertained the crowd on the 4G pitch as part of what was a great reunion.

  This was followed by the official opening of pitches, terrace, stand, electronic scoreboard, and amenity walkway.

  In typical fashion for a proud community club like Creggs, eleven club members, representing the various parts of the club, cut the tape in unison on the 4G pitch in front of the new stand.

  The day on the fields was then crowned by a bonus point win for Creggs Firsts over Buccaneers by 38-21.

  An historic day was rounded off as 250 people attended a great night at the Creggs RFC 45th Anniversary Dinner Dance in the Abbey Hotel on Saturday night.

'One hour away from another title'

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flanagan rallies his troops for Tuam

 

 

 

Pádraig Pearses manager Pat Flanagan has been around the block in terms of county and club management, and the experienced Offaly man is taking a very methodical approach to preparations ahead of Sunday’s final.

  “We have been taking it one game at a time and that’s going back to the quarter-final of the Roscommon championship and this is no different. At that stage (in Roscommon) we had three hours of football to play to win the title and this is the same, three hours, two are gone so one to go. So it’s up to us to go out now and compete the best we can for that hour that’s left.

  “We have no injuries or any knocks and to have played Tourlestrane and Tir Chonaill Gaels and to come out injury free is fantastic”.

  He believes that winning the title in Roscommon has made a huge difference to his team.

  “There is far more confidence and self-belief since we won the county final. We have been trying to keep things nice and calm and we tell the lads to just go out and play football.

  “Since the start of the year I wanted to take the ‘one hour’ final out of our thinking. I wanted the lads to believe that it would be a long campaign. We wanted to take the fear factor out of the equation and when that happened we played good football”.

  Pat says that there are many players in his squad that have that all-important ‘winning mentality’.

  “It wasn’t a hard job to get guys to readjust after winning the county final because we have a lot of winners in our dressing room. We have lads that have a couple of Connacht senior medals but I’ve always said that what we achieved in Roscommon is history and it’s in the past. I think that there is an awful lot more in this team and that’s the approach we are taking”.

  With regard to the all-conquering Corofin side, Pat says that they are a magnificent team but that anything is possible in a one-off match.

  “Corofin are a serious football team. We all know what they did last year to Clann na nGael and what they did when they got to Croke Park. They beat really good teams by ten and twelve points.

  “If you go through the stats they have won eleven or twelve out of fourteen Galway senior finals, which is remarkable. They have a winning mentality and that’s invaluable in any team. They’ll always feel they have the winning of any game. So can we cope with that? It’s going to be a massive task but it’s a one-off football match. They have everything to lose”.

  But the Pearses boss won’t entertain any suggestion that Corofin are in decline.

  “I’m not sure that you can read anything into Corofin’s form. I gather that the conditions in the county final (against Tuam) were dire. I saw the game they played against Ballintubber and while they were not flying I wonder if they are timing it to be ready for the All-Ireland semi-finals and finals. But Ballintubber are a very good, experienced team who conceded a very soft goal and if they hadn’t let in that goal it could have been a different result”.

  Rather than being overawed by the All-Ireland champions Pat knows that if his side play to their best they have a real chance.

  “Personally I am delighted that we are playing Corofin. They are the best and it is always great to be competing against the best. We have played away in our last two championship games and that will help us going on Sunday.

  “This is an exceptional Corofin team but as I said to our lads in London, we have an exceptional team too and we have great scope to develop even further.

  “This Sunday we are going out to play a one hour game of football and if we apply ourselves properly and do the right things to be still in the game with fifteen or twenty minutes to go then I think we have a good chance,” he concluded.

 

 

 

Underdogs Pearses have fighting chance

 

 

 

 

If the good people at Paddy Power and Boylesports are to be believed then Pádraig Pearses are wasting their time travelling to Tuam for the Connacht club final on Sunday. However, the reason why we follow and love sport is the possibility that anything can happen. While all the information we have would point to a comfortable Corofin win, a lot of shrewd GAA people feel that Pearses are coming into this final with a great chance and I agree with that.

  We know what Corofin have done and there is a very good argument to be made that they are one of the greatest club teams that we have ever seen. However, they have been on the road at the top level for almost three years non-stop and it has to be taking its toll on their players. They are not robots and sooner or later fatigue has got to kick in, whether that happens this coming Sunday or not is the big question.

  The All-Ireland champions squeezed past Tuam in a replayed Galway final before edging out Ballintubber of Mayo in the semi-final. It can be argued that they won those crucial games and they know how to win better than anyone else, but it wasn’t with the swagger that we have become accustomed to.

  Pearses come into this match in bonus territory and with nothing to lose. Winning the Roscommon title has released a major pressure valve and the team can now concentrate of playing football after the release of finally getting their hands on the Fahey Cup.

  The new Roscommon champions were too good for Tourlestrane and Tir Chonaill Gaels in this provincial championship and were impressive winners in both games, but they know that this is a massive step up and Corofin are a standard of opposition that they have not met this year.

  But having met and spoken with Pearses players in recent weeks, they are really enjoying this journey that they are on and there is an inner belief that they can cause Corofin problems on Sunday.

  The usual Pearses players will expect to be the fore with Niall Daly leading the way. But Ronan, Conor and Lorcan Daly, Shane and Niall Carty, Mark Richardson, Paul Carey, Hubert Darcy and Conor Payne have all contributed handsomely to Pearses’ successes so far and they will all have to be at their very best on Sunday if they are to win this title. Pearses have been scoring goals in all their games since the Roscommon quarter-finals and they will need at least one on Sunday next if they wish to prosper.

  This game will be won and lost on Pearses ability or otherwise to keep out a lethal Corofin attack. There is so much quality in the Corofin forwards that it is hard to know where to start. Gary Sice is so experienced. Mike Lundy and Ian Burke are lethal in front of goals. The Farraghers, Michael and Martin are also top-quality players. It will take a huge effort for Pearses to keep tabs on this attack.

  The impressive Kieran Molloy now plays at midfield alongside Daithi Burke and they form a formidable duo. Liam Silke and the evergreen Kieran Fitzgerald will marshall the Corofin defence. They look such a strong side all the time. We have seen them play some sparking football over the past few years, and they have put some top-class teams to the sword too.

  But the winning run of all great teams has to come to a halt some time and why not this Sunday? Pearses will have to play their best football for sixty minutes if they want to have a chance to win this final. We have seen them play some great stuff this year but it has only lasted for fifteen or twenty minutes at a time. That won’t be good enough on Sunday.

  I am giving Pearses a chance, but it looks a very tall order for them to upset this magnificent Corofin team. Tuam Stadium has been a happy hunting ground for Roscommon teams over the years and hopefully this can work in Pearses’ favour too. I have to say that I am really looking forward to this match and hope that Pearses can do themselves justice on the day. It will be closer than a lot of people think. I hope I’m wrong but Corofin look to have the team to edge out winners by a few points.

Prediction: Corofin

 

 

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