SEAMUS DUKE looks ahead to this weekend’s big GAA action
Roscommon SFC quarter-finals
Padraig Pearses v Roscommon Gaels in Ballyforan on Sunday at 1 pm
This is a repeat of last year’s county final in which Pearses made history by winning their first ever senior title. They were well in control of that match but almost let it slip in the final few minutes.
This year, the champions have been doing just enough, not yet having reproduced the form that brought them the Fahey Cup in 2019. The one-point defeat to Tulsk in round three raised many eyebrows as to the current form of Pat Flanagan’s men.
Still, they have some wonderful players. Niall Daly, David Murray, Ronan Daly, Hubert Darcy, Conor Daly, Paul Carey and Niall Carty are just some of the men who will be hoping to reach peak form on Sunday.
The Gaels will be sweating on the availability of Richard Hughes, their best performer thus far in 2020, as he is very doubtful due to injury. Meanwhile, Scottie Oates has returned to his place of work in Dubai, and there may even be concern about the fitness of young sharpshooter Peter Gillooly.
Experienced players like Paul Gleeson, David O’Gara, Cathal Dineen, Kevin O’Gara and Mark Healy will have to step up to the mark if the Gaels are to remain in contention for the title. They need to improve up front, where they are too reliant on Peter Gillooly and, to a lesser extent, Ronan Carolan.
Pearses’ struggles against Tulsk will give the Gaels hope – but it would be a mild surprise if the champions don’t emerge by a point or two.
Prediction: Padraig Pearses.
Boyle v St Croan’s on Saturday in Strokestown at 7.30 pm
Logical analysis would end with the conclusion that Boyle should come through this with relative ease, but St. Croan’s have proven very difficult opponents over the recent past when their backs are to the wall.
Maurice Connaughton, Aidan Brogan, Brendan Pacey and Richard Thompson have all done well for the Ballintubber men this year. But Boyle have the Smith brothers, Cian McKeon, Roch Hanmore and the very impressive half-back line of Tadhg McKenna, Seanie Purcell and Evan McGrath. It all points to a win for Basil Mannion’s side.
St Brigid’s v Michael Glavey’s on Sunday in Ballyforan at 4 pm
This is very interesting match-up between a very youthful and free-scoring St. Brigid’s and a Glavey’s side who came good last weekend after a very poor performance against Boyle the previous week.
On their display against Elphin, Glavey’s would have to be in with a chance here. Shane O’Malley, Gary Patterson, Conor Hussey, Cathal Heneghan, Andy Glennon and Stephen Comer will have to lead from the front if they are to cause an upset.
St. Brigid’s have a great mix of experienced players and youthful exuberance and young guns Ruari Fallon, Brian Derwin, Ben O’Carroll and Ciaran Sugrue can make up for the loss of Senan Kilbride. This could be closer than a lot of people think.
Prediction: St Brigid’s.
Clann na nGael v Western Gaels on Sunday in Dr Hyde Park at 5 pm
A definite contender for ‘Game of the Weekend’. Clann will be the favourites to win but I won’t be surprised if the Gaels turn them over. Under Liam Kerins, Clann have motored nicely into the last eight but they will surely have to up their game for this clash.
Western Gaels have arguably been the most impressive team in the championship to this point and one thing you can be certain of is that Fergal O’Donnell will have them set up so that they will be very hard to beat.
In deciding who to go for I am drawn to the superior Clann attack where Ciaran Lennon, Donie Shine and Cathal Callinan have been playing well. I think they just have enough firepower to withstand what will be a huge challenge from the Gaels. I am going to give Clann a hesitant vote, but won’t be surprised if it goes the other way.
Prediction: Western Gaels.