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Last-gasp defeat for Roscommon

Fr Manning Cup

Kildare 1-10 Roscommon 1-9

A goal from David Kelly in injury-time gave Kildare a one-point win in this competitive match played in Newbridge last Wednesday night week.

It was rough justice on Roscommon who had played well to get into a winning position in the second half.

Kildare were the better side in the first half but a well-taken goal from Ryan Beisty in the 2nd minute saw Roscommon into an early lead.

Kildare shot some terrible wides after that and Roscommon were trailing by 0-7 to 1-2 coming up to half-time but, aided by two excellent points from Roscommon’s star player, Brian Derwin the sides went in level at half-time.

Kildare led by two points early in the second half but Roscommon were improving and they came back well into the game.

Points from Brian Derwin and Rian Beisty levelled the scores and then three pointed frees from Brian Derwin saw the Rossies ahead by three by the 57th minute. Then in the 60th minute Kildare pointed a free and deep into injury-time Kiladare full-forward David Kelly was on hand to prod home from close-range to break the hearts of the Roscommon men.

Roscommon: Aaron Brady; Connell Kennelly, Fiachra Doyle, Michael Conroy; Eoghan Grady, Gerry Galvin, Mikey Kavanagh; Padraig Halpin, Niall Murray; Cathal Heneghan, Niall Cunniffe, Ryan Beisty (1-1); Donnacha Gately, Brian Derwin (0-8), Callum Fahey. Subs: Dylan Ruane for Grady, Shea Henry for Fahey, Ronan Dowd for Cunniffe, Enda Killoran for Conroy, Mark Finan for Kavanagh, Michael Hanley for Gately.

Golf News 24th July

Boyle Golf Club

Thursday night’s competition was won by Lorcan Egan with 27 points, 2nd Dave Purser with 25 points, Friday’s Scramble was won by President Charlie O’Donnell, Geraldine McDermottroe and Michael Reid, 2nd Gerry Carty, Susan O’Mahoney and Cillian Doyle, 3rd Brendan Gaffney, Carmel Keenan and Mervyn Boles.

Competitions for this week are the Mens Competition on Thursday night and a 9-hole Scramble on Friday night.

Next Saturday is the Boyle Arts Festival Open. Format is 18-hole stableford, entry fee is €7.

Next Sunday is Captain’s Prize to the Ladies and an 18-hole Stroke for the Men (Golfer of the Year).

Date for your diary is The Captain’s Weekend July 30th-August 2nd including Par Three Competition on Thursday, Captain’s Scramble on Friday and Captain’s Prize on August Sunday. Online booking for Captain’s Prize available from this Wednesday July 22nd. King Harman 3rd Matches to be played by this Saturday 25th July. Good luck to all taking part.

Commiserations to our Jack O’Sullivan Team who lost to Rosses Point last Thursday and to our Cecil Ewing Team who lost to Enniscrone last Saturday.

 

Good luck to our Connacht Shield Team against Ballymote.

Castlerea Golf Club

Results from the competition on Sunday 19th July, sponsored by Liam Walsh, Irish Life Financial Planning Partner – 1st: Peter Hester with 41 points; 2nd Peter Morris with 39 points; Category 1 Matt Griffith with 37 points; Category 2 Michael Clarke with 37 points; Category 3 Paulo Hayden with 38 points.

Cecil Ewing Team bowed out to Tuam last Saturday. Match was played in very wet conditions. Every credit to all.

Next weekend Connacht Mixed Foursomes semi-finals and finals will be held at Castlerea Golf Club on Friday 24th starting at 2 pm.

Castlerea Golf Club's Mixed Foursomes Team will play Oughterard, Co. Galway. This is a repeat of the 2010 semi-final in Ballina. The second pairings of Wesport, Co. Mayo and Co. Sligo Golf Club will tee up at 2.45 p.m. Best of luck to our team.

Roscommon Golf Club

Congratulations to Joan Hannon, winner of Lady Captain Mrs Marie McManus’s Prize, 2015, with 144 nett. Ruth Lennon was in second place with 147. Sinead Benedetti won the gross prize with 144 gross. Annie Timothy was in third place with 147.

The winner of Sunday’s competition, sponsored by P. Cuddy Class Grass, was Alan Craven with 41 points. Brian Feeley was in second place with 40 points and Aidan Donnelly was in third place with 39 points.

Dan O’Brien won the gross prize with 32 gross points and David Hill won the junior prize with 41 points.

Jack McGahan won the Open Friday competition with 39 points and John Carr was in second place with 36 points. The winner of the Over 55’s competition on Thursday was Eddie Moran with Michael Dolan in second place and Tom Costello in third place.

Gertie Spillane won the ladies’ competition and Marguerite Farrell was in second place. Mary Jo O’Riordan was in third place and Mary Lalor was in fourth place.

Well done to Peter Casey and Sandra Kelly winners of the Club Mixed Foursomes and hard luck to runners-up Terry O’Keeffe and Patricia O’Gara.

Our Senior Foursomes team are through to the Connacht final after beating Ballinasloe in the semi-final on Sunday in Mountbellew.

The club classic, sponsored by P.J. Donnellan Engine Spares, takes place on this Friday and Saturday.

Members are reminded to get the stubs and money for the draw in to Michael McHale or any committee member as soon as possible as the draw takes place on Saturday.

Classy Connell raids Orchard County

Liberty Insurance Junior Camogie Championship

Roscommon 5-11 Armagh 2-9

Roscommon got back on the winning trail in the championship with an impressive win in Knockcroghery last Sunday.

It was a good second-half display that did the trick as Roscommon swept to an easy victory in the end.

Armagh were probably slightly the better side in the opening half and by half-time they led by a point. Niamh Coyle scored a goal early on from a free but Armagh replied with a goal from Rachel Merry.

Roscommon really played well in the second half. Rachel Fitzmaurice scored a fine goal early on. But Armagh were not done and a goal from Ciara Donnellan brought them back into the game.

After that it was all Roscommon and Fiona Connell scored three well-taken goals in the 40th, 45th and 51st minutes respectively to secure a good win for the home side.

Best for Roscommon were Susan Spillane, Niamh Farrell, Rachel Fitzmaurice, Annette McGeeney and Niamh Coyle. Roscommon have two games left. Both are at home, to Laois and Westmeath.

Roscommon: C Connaughton; C Killeen, N Farrell, C Morris; C Gunning, S Coyle, E Daly; S Spillane, R Fitzmaurice (1-3); M Fannon, A McGeeney (0-2), R Brennan; N Coyle (1-5), F Connell (3-0), C Curley (0-1). Subs: A Byne for Morris, M Brennan for Curley.

Camogie club update

Gannon Landscape U-12 League: There were wins for Four Roads, Pearses and Oran in the second round of the U-12 Championship.

Round 3 fixtures – Athleague v St Dominic’s; Four Roads v Padraig Pearses; Tulsk v Oran; Roscommon Gaels Hawks v Roscommon Gaels Eagles.

Roscommon Herald Junior Championship Round 4 results: Four Roads 4-9 Oran 1-6; St. Dominic’s 5-4 Padraig Pearses 1-4; Athleague 2-15 Roscommon Gaels 1-1.

Round 5 fixtures: Oran v Padraig Pearses; Athleague v Four Roads; Roscommon Gaels v St. Dominic’s. U-10 Blitz: Four Roads will host an U-10 blitz this Friday evening.

THE NINE-MINUTE NIGHTMARE

Roscommon crash down to earth after amazing Fermanagh comeback

All-Ireland SFC Qualifiers Round 3: Fermanagh 1-14 Roscommon 0-16

THE VERDICT

In over 25 years of covering Roscommon championship games for the newspapers and radio, I cannot remember a more devastating defeat than this one.

Roscommon were not playing that well but were still cruising to a comfortable win. Even after Fermanagh scored what was a very, very soft penalty, Roscommon came back and scored two nice points to restore order.

I’m looking at my match notes: 64 minutes gone, Roscommon 0-16 Fermanagh 1-8. What happened after that almost defies description.

Fermanagh found a momentum that was nowhere evident before that point. Suddenly Roscommon couldn’t get their hands on the ball. The ball was flying over the Roscommon crossbar from almost every possible angle. The lead was down to four, three, two. The game was slipping into injury-time. Sean Quigley hammered a ’45 over in the 71st minute. The roars of the home crowd grew ever louder. A disputed line ball, and then Tomas Corrigan arrowed an incredible kick between the posts.

If The Gooch or Diarmuid Connolly did it there would be TV replays on every sports bulletin for the next six months. The sides were level. Roscommon players were shell-shocked. They could see their championship hopes slipping away and they were unable to do anything about it.

Sean Quigley had a poor enough game by his standards but he was the hero, taking a pass in the 73rd minute and arrowing over the winning point. The final whistle sounded shortly after that. Disbelief all round.

Fermanagh could not believe they had won it and Roscommon could not believe they had lost it. It was a stunning end to the game.

So, what happened? How did Roscommon lose it?

Taking off Enda Smith and Ultan Harney certainly didn’t help. Both players are very well capable of winning their own ball and when we needed someone to get their hands on the ball and carry it up the field in the final 10 minutes, they were off the field. It was also very strange to see Ronan Stack, who is a defender, playing in attack – and it was an even bigger surprise to see Niall Carty come on in attack after he had played the last two years as our full-back.

The loss of players like Senan Kilbride, Mark Healy, Conor Daly, Donal Ward and Cathal Shine was no help but there were some serious mistakes made on the line which certainly contributed to this defeat. But it wasn’t that Roscommon were playing so bad. They just completely lost their way in the final nine minutes of play.

Neil Collins, Seanie McDermott, Ian Kilbride, Enda Smith Donie Shine, Ultan Harney and Cathal Cregg in particular were fantastic on the day and they took the fight to Fermanagh. The home side looked poor, especially in the first half. Even the Fermanagh supporters could not believe that they had actually won the match when it was all over. It was like something out of a Roy of the Rovers comic book – and The Rossies were the villains.

After a fantastic FBD League and National League campaign this has been another poor championship for Roscommon. In fact our championship record in recent years has been very bad indeed and Roscommon fans will not need reminding that the team have not beaten Galway or Mayo in the championship since 2001.

It is nice to be looking ahead to playing in Division One of the National Football League, but the disastrous defeats that we have suffered in the championship this year to Sligo and Fermanagh will be a huge blow to the confidence of the players.

John Evans and his management team have three years behind them now and they have many achievements to point to, and there is no doubt that the Kerryman is one of the most passionate football men that I have ever met.

However all sides will have to sit down now and see if further progress can be made under the current regime.

There is no doubt that we have a big panel of young and talented players but as every year slips by the chances of progress in the championship lessens and it is time now for a calm and constructive debate about where we are and where we want to go.

The championship is where it is at, and the facts are that Roscommon have made very little progress in the premier competition over the past five years or so. The challenges are going to increase too.

Next February, March and April the team will be playing the top seven teams in the country in the league and the last thing we need are more demoralising defeats. Our championship record is not good enough and last Sunday’s incredible defeat is further adding to the pain.

We have to start planning for 2016 and beyond in the next few weeks. Roscommon is a mighty football county. There was a huge crowd of supporters there to support the team last Sunday. People here are desperate for success.

Next Sunday 23,000 people will pack into Dr Hyde Park for the Connacht Senior Football Final between Sligo and Mayo. The best of luck to both sides but Roscommon fans, players and management know that we should be preparing to travel to McHale Park to take on Mayo.

It has been another disastrous championship summer for Roscommon.

Sensational comeback denies Roscommon

KEY MOMENTS

It’s tempting to start this report in the 64th minute, because the final six minutes and the three minutes of injury-time played were where this match was won and lost – but in truth this was an entertaining game that was going the way of Roscommon until those final incredible moments.

  Roscommon were by far the better team in the opening half. Ultan Harney was on fire and opened the scoring after 40 seconds. A minute later Cathal Cregg took advantage of a poor kick-out to score from 30 metres.

  Fermanagh were struggling (they shot nine first-half wides) and their talisman Sean Quigley was wayward from frees. With Cathal Cregg and Donie Shine providing key scores the visitors led by 0-9 to 0-4 at the break.

  Roscommon went into a six-point lead (0-14 to 0-8) by the 54th minute. John Evans’ team were in control.

  Then in the 55th minute came a crucial score for the home side. Niall Cassidy drove the ball in long and hopeful to the Roscommon square. Sean Quigley fisted the ball into the path of the onrushing Marty O’Brien, who appeared to go to ground with little or no contact from any Roscommon player. Referee Cormac Reilly saw it differently and awarded a penalty. Sean Quigley sent Darren O’Malley the wrong way –now the gap was down to three.

  Roscommon reacted magnificently to that hammer blow, Donie Shine and Enda Smith responding with scores. The clock read 64 minutes and it seemed that Roscommon had weathered the storm.

  Scores from Ryan Jones (65th minute) and Tomas Corrigan (66 minutes) closed the gap to three. Roscommon could not get their hands on the ball now. On 67 minutes Damien Kelly lofted over a point. Fermanagh were on a roll.

   In the 70th minute Sean Quigley belted over a ’45. A one-point game. Three minutes of injury-time were signalled. There was a minor scuffle on the sideline about 30 metres from goal. Line ball to Fermanagh but it looked like a Roscommon ball to me. Tomas Corrigan stood up and pointed with the outside of his right foot. A sensational kick. The sides were level. The crowd were on their feet, scarcely believing what was happening. On the kick-out Eoin Donnelly found Sean Quigley who pointed. Sensational. The Fermanagh crowd were in ecstasy. Soon after, Cormac Reilly blew the final whistle – and it was over.

  For Roscommon this was a nightmare that it will be hard to recover from.

Fermanagh: Thomas Treacy; Mickey Jones, Tiernan Daly, Niall Cassidy (0-2); Declan McCusker, James McMahon, Marty O’Brien; Eoin Donnelly, Richard O’Callaghan; Barry Mulrone (0-1), Ryan Jones (0-1), Ryan McCluskey; Paul McCusker, Sean Quigley (1-3, 1-0 pen, ’45, 1 free), Tomas Corrigan (0-5, 3 frees). Subs: Ruairi Corrigan (0-1) for McCusker (h-t), Che Cullen for Daly (black card, 45), Conall Jones for P McCusker (51), Damien Kelly (0-1) for Cassidy (black card, 62).

Roscommon: Darren O’Malley; Seanie McDermott, Neil Collins, David Murray; Niall Daly, David Keenan, Ciaran Cafferky; Ian Kilbride, Kevin Higgins (0-1); Ronan Daly, Cathal Cregg (0-4), Enda Smith; Ultan Harney (0-3), Donie Shine (0-5, 4 frees), Ciaran Murtagh (0-3, frees). Subs: Ronan Stack for Kilbride (h-t), Niall Carty for R Daly (45), Donie Smith for C Murtagh (60), Cian Connolly for E Smith (65), Brian Murtagh for Cafferky (67), Michael Finneran for Harney (71).

Referee: Cormac Reilly (Meath).

 

 

‘It’s part of learning process’ – shell-shocked Evans

A clearly shell-shocked Roscommon manager John Evans emerged from a hushed dressing room to address the media. He said that he will take a few weeks to consider his position after this defeat.

  “I will stand back and take a look at it now. I agreed to a year last year and I have to look at the whole package. Today is not the day to take any decisions and I will sit down and take a look at it and talk to my family.

  “We have to look at the progress that we have made and the players know that we have made progress too. I have always said that we are on a journey and that there would be hard knocks along the way and by God was today a hard knock.

  “I have been talking to the players in there now and they are gutted. We certainly didn’t see that coming in the last few minutes. They were kicking unbelievable points from everywhere and they got the momentum going and that is why home venue is so important in these games. It was a huge help to them.

  “There were a lot of calls that went against us too in the last few minutes but that is the way it goes. We were seven points up but we couldn’t hold on to that lead. We have a lot of young players on our team and these young lads are going to make mistakes. It’s part of the learning process. We have to learn from this because we have to go again next year in Division One.

  “The penalty decision was crucial. It was not a penalty from where I was standing and to add to that we should have got four or five frees there toward the end but that’s how it goes sometimes with referees.

  “I am impressed with our young lads and their attitude. We went seven points ahead playing some great football but we just couldn’t see it out. But you had to credit Fermanagh. They showed incredible spirit and the home support was massive.”

Pete McGrath (Fermanagh manager)

 

“If you look at the first half we had nine wides and Roscommon had one and we were coughing up possession and missing easy chances. At half-time we were five points down but I said to the boys that this game is not over. I said to them if we are in it in the last ten minutes we will have the legs.

  “Obviously the penalty was crucial and after that we had the momentum. We showed tremendous character there at the end and in games like that the opposition become bystanders and there is nothing they can do. That’s the way it transpired today and it was a thrilling win and I am delighted for our players and everyone involved.”

 

 

 

Ladies hoping to topple Tipp

McLoone and Gunning return

TG4 All-Ireland Ladies Intermediate Football Championship Qualifiers: Roscommon v Tipperary on Saturday at 4.30 pm at Kinnity, Co. Offaly

The Ward Bros sponsored senior ladies team play Tipperary in the preliminary round of the TG4 All-Ireland Championship on Saturday next at 4.30 pm.

Roscommon had six points to spare over Tipperary in their last outing in a league game played in Kiltoom earlier this year.

Roscommon will be without a number of players from that game due to a number being away on J1s and the fact that other panel members have also travelled abroad for the summer. That said, Roscommon still have players to step up to the mark and should book their place in the next round against Connacht Championship runners-up Sligo on Saturday, 1st August.

Roscommon manager Kieran Kilkenny says that the game against Tipperary is a 50/50 one. “When we played Tipperary at Kiltoom it was a home game for us and we won it by a few points but they are a really good side and it is a hard draw. In fact they are probably the best team in the section that we are in.

“We have Amanda McLoone and Caroline Gunning back from injury which will strengthen the panel. We were happy enough with our display against Leitrim but we have to sharpen up in the scoring department.

“We are missing too many scores at the moment and if can put that right we will be in with a big chance on Saturday. We are looking forward to it and it is a game that we are well capable of winning” he concluded.

Evans: Will he stay or will he go?

Uncertainty surrounds the future of manager John Evans following Roscommon’s dramatic exit from the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship in Enniskillen on Sunday.

  Roscommon County Board are remaining tight-lipped on the question of whether or not Evans will be asked to stay on as manager.

  However, judging from Evans’ comments directly after Sunday’s dramatic defeat to Fermanagh, it looks like the Kerry man is likely to want at least another season in charge.

  Roscommon have enjoyed considerable success during the Kerry man’s tenure, but a hugely disappointing and relatively short 2015 Championship campaign has placed a firm focus on Evans’ position, with some fans believing the time has come for a parting of the ways. Some fans believe that Evans has made crucial selection errors and criticism has been voiced of the substitutions he made in Enniskillen at the weekend.

  Under Evans, Roscommon have achieved back-to-back promotions – from Division Three to Division One – as well as success in this season’s FBD League.

  Evans would appear to retain the support of the majority of the Roscommon public, with widespread acknowledgement that the team has improved under his management and that the big achievement of winning promotion to Division One should not be overshadowed by under-achievement in the championship.

  Calls made by the Roscommon People to the County Board on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week were not returned. It would be usual, in the aftermath of a championship defeat, for some time to elapse before any big decisions are made about the fate of the management team.

  As for Evans himself, it is not certain that he will wish to continue. He has now completed three seasons with Roscommon and has alluded to the demands on his time and family. However, Evans, whose passion for Roscommon is not in question, is excited about his developing team and may well relish a crack at Division One and the opportunity to make real progress at championship level next season.

  Speaking to Seamus Duke after Sunday’s stunning defeat to Fermanagh – Roscommon led by five points with five minutes to play, only to be overhauled – Evans hinted that he may want to continue.

  Perhaps it was a throw-away line, but Evans said: “We have to learn from this because we have to go again next year in Division One.”

  Asked about his plans, he said: “I will stand back and take a look at it now. I agreed to a year last year and I have to look at the whole package. Today is not the day to take any decisions and I will sit down and take a look at it and talk to my family.

  “We have to look at the progress that we have made and the players know that we have made progress too. I have always said that we are on a journey and that there would be hard knocks along the way and by God was today a hard knock.

  “We have a lot of young players on our team and these young lads are going to make mistakes. It’s part of the learning process. We have to learn from this because we have to go again next year in Division One.”

  It is expected that the County Board will clarify the management position in the coming weeks.  

Time to take stock

There is no disguising it, the defeat to Fermanagh last Sunday was one of the most disappointing that I have ever witnessed in the championship for Roscommon footballers.

It’s not that Roscommon played too bad at all but it was an incredible finish as Fermanagh got the bit between their teeth and their momentum became unstoppable as the game came to its conclusion.

What Roscommon needed was a player or two who could catch the ball in the middle of the field and carry it into Fermanagh territory. I doubt if the ball crossed the halfway line in the last nine minutes of play.

Despite the freakish nature of the finish this is a game that Roscommon should not have lost and now we have to reflect on a championship summer in which we lost to both Sligo and Fermanagh.

With the prospect of Division One football coming in February next, the County Board, team management and players from U-21 level to senior will have to sit down and take stock and work out a set of priorities for 2016.

I am convinced that we have a talented young panel of players who are capable of winning a Connacht title or two at least but we are in a quandary with regard to the league now. From the first week in February 2016 we will be facing tough games every week and we will have to try and have our best team on the field for those games. But it is the championship that matters and we have a dismal championship record over the past five years.

The demands being made on our younger players in particular are absolutely huge and we have to look at that too. Lads like Diarmuid Murtagh, Enda Smith and others have a huge amount of football played over the past two years and those demands are only going to increase as 2016 comes into view.

John Evans has had a lot of success with Roscommon. The team has improved out of all proportion and the league performances have been top class. But the bottom line is that Roscommon have made little or no progress in the Connacht Championship.

It was great to play against Cavan and beat them and we probably should have beaten Fermanagh too, but what most Roscommon followers wanted this year was a trip to Castlebar to take on Mayo in a Connacht final. After three years under the current management set-up everyone should take stock now.

Preparations for 2016 will have to start in September/October and it would be prudent for all the stakeholders – players management and County Board – to sit down and to see where they are going.

John Evans said last Sunday that he is going to take stock – and that is only right. Has he taken this group of players as far as he can or can he drive things forward more? These are some of the questions that have to be addressed and answered honestly and in a calm and constructive manner.

There is no point in people getting carried away. Things must proceed in the best manner possible for Roscommon football. There are plenty of good players there. We will have a good U-21 team again in 2016 and there is grounds for optimism for the future.

However it would be a crying shame and a fierce waste of talent if this team were not to win at least one Connacht senior title and challenge the top teams in the country over the next four or five years. We have to get it right, whether it is with the current management set-up or with a new one.

Let everyone have their say and let’s move forward after that.

We must learn lessons following this very disappointing end to championship

The curtain came down on Roscommon senior footballers’ championship campaign for 2015 in Brewster Park in Enniskillen last Sunday evening.

It has turned out to be a nightmare of a campaign this year with the only saving grace being a win against a mediocre Cavan team.

John Evans can talk all he wants about the cups in the cupboard but he cannot sugar-coat the fact that it was a very disappointing end to the 2015 campaign.

Every year at the start of the season teams lay down their goals for the year, culminating in trying to get things right for the premier competition, the championship. Throughout this year we have been touted as realistic contenders for the Connacht title, especially when we got what looked like a favourable draw. But it has turned out to be a major disappointment. With due respect to Sligo and Fermanagh they could not be considered as teams who are at or near the top table, yet both managed championship wins against Roscommon.

After all the work which has been done at underage level over the years we have now assembled a strong group of quality young players. While it was good to see progress in the league it is their championship performance that teams are judged on. John Evans made a big issue last Sunday evening about the inexperience of our players, implying that was probably the cause of our defeat. I would disagree with him on that score.

There have been huge issues with regard to team selection and game management and those factors come under his watch. We saw last week that the Kerry manager Eamon Fitzmaurice put his hand up and acknowledged that he had made mistakes in the drawn Munster final.

When someone is taking the credit when things are going well then they must be prepared to stand up and take responsibility when things are going the other way. There is no doubt that we should have won that match last Sunday as we were in control for almost the entire game. Having said that Fermanagh had a number of bad misses in the first half, especially from their talisman Sean Quigley.

For Roscommon there were some very good displays and they played some excellent football in patches. Seanie McDermott and Cathal Cregg deserve special mention for outstanding displays but we made some strange substitutions which allowed Fermanagh back into the match. While that was true, the Fermanagh comeback was also aided and abetted by some poor refereeing from Cormac Reilly. The penalty award was a joke, but not very amusing if you were a Roscommon supporter. What annoys me about this referee and several others is that we continue to see them throughout the championship, regardless of what blunders they make.

Everybody agrees that the real All-Ireland Championship does not really start until August, so it is very disappointing that we did not make it that far. But if we learn from our mistakes it might be worth it in the long run. We are a better team than we showed in this championship.

This weekend’s action

This coming weekend we have the Connacht SFC Final in Dr Hyde Park. Mayo will be hot favourites and Sligo will do well to make a match of it. Mayo, while not looking great, easily dispatched Galway in the semi-final.

Sligo had a great win over Roscommon but they will face a bigger challenge on Sunday. Mayo look too powerful and I expect that they will win with a bit to spare. In Ulster Donegal will have to be at their best if they are to overcome Monaghan.

Don’t expect this to be pretty – I don’t think Mick O’Connell will be watching. It will be tense and tough and I expect Donegal will double-mark Conor McManus, thus reducing Monaghan's scoring power. Donegal to win a low-scoring game.

In the qualifiers I am predicting wins for Tyrone and Galway. Galway did very well last weekend to beat Armagh but might find Derry more difficult this weekend. Galway are playing a more defensive system now and while it appears to be the way to go, the northern teams are more used to playing it and are better at it. I am not sure about this Derry team so I am going for Galway to get to the next round.

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