Athleague bench can help tip derby in their favour
Kepak Roscommon SHC Final: Tremane v Athleague on Sunday in Athleague at 1.30 pm
Seldom in recent times has a Roscommon senior hurling final generated so much interest. With the greatest respect to the other five clubs in this competition, to have two teams from the same parish meeting in the final for the first time in 41 years is something that appeals to a whole generation of hurling fans in the county who have never experienced such a novelty.
Athleague have always been prominent over the years but it has been such a long time since Tremane have featured in the final. Given the unique nature of this final, a good crowd is expected in Athleague on Sunday.
It would be fair to say that earlier in the year neither side looked as if they would feature in the county decider. Both were well beaten along the way, but it is all about timing your run at the right time. These two teams have done exactly that.
Tremane’s semi-final dismissal of Four Roads and Athleague’s victory over Pádraig Pearses has lit up this championship. Now the big question is: who will get to lift the Mickey Cunniffe Cup?
For Tremane, it is a superb achievement to be in this final. They have a number of tremendous hurlers on their team. In the semi-finals, Joe Brennan, Peter Kellehan and Niall Kilroy were match-winners, and the club will once again be looking to them on Sunday.
But three men alone will not win this final for Tramane. Sean Melia, Cathal Mahony, Niall Keenan and John Brennan are all excellent players and all will have to play their part on Sunday. The Gately brothers have been valuable subs thus far for Tremane and the Creggs men are sure to play a major part on Sunday.
Tremane manager Seamus Qualter is a mighty hurling man who steered Athleague to the county title just three years ago. Now he is plotting their downfall. It’s another ingredient that adds to the spice of this decider.
This is Athleague’s fourth final in a row; they were very unlucky to lose after extra-time to Pearses last year. They are determined to get back to the summit of the club hurling scene in 2021.
The Athleague team has a great blend of youth and experience. The experience will come from Dave Connell in goal, Niall Connolly, Alan Moore, Pat Nolan, Gary Fallon, Ronan O’Meara, Cormac Kelly and Robbie Fallon, while young guns like Eoghan and Naoise Coyle, Ben McGahon and Eoin Ward have all been impressive this year. McGahon is now a real leader and his free-taking has been top drawer throughout this championship.
It’s fantastic to see players like Peter Kellehan and Niall Kilroy get a chance to play in the county senior club final.
There are sure to be many twists and turns before the final whistle is blown on Sunday. Most of the players in opposition on Sunday play football together for Fuerty, but those friendships will be set aside on the day.
In local derbies like this the formbook goes out the window. Anything can happen. It is one of the most eagerly awaited county senior finals in decades. Athleague might just have an edge in terms of panel strength. They have a few players that can come off the bench and make a difference. However it goes it will be a day not to be missed in Athleague.