This weekend the Roscommon SFC begins, and – especially in light of Covid-19 lockdown – it’s one of the most eagerly-awaited in many years. Defending champions Padraig Pearses will again be the team to beat, but expect a big challenge from Clann na nGael, Roscommon Gaels, Boyle, Western Gaels and possibly St. Brigid’s.
Game of the Weekend
Padraig Pearses v Boyle on Sunday in Pairc an Piarsiagh at 2 pm
The sides met at the semi-final stage last year, a chaotic rollercoaster of a match in which three Pearses players saw red. After a brilliant first 45 minutes, the eventual champions were left hanging on for dear life.
For Pearses, the Daly brothers, Davy Murray, Paul Carey and Hubert Darcy will be hoping to stamp their inter-county experience on proceedings, while Enda and Donie Smith, Cian McKeon, Evan McGrath and Tadhg McKenna will hope to inspire Basil Mannion’s side to a win.
The game will be streamed live by the County Board so people who cannot get a ticket will be able to see what promises to be a cracker. On home soil, Pearses should be able to edge it.
Prediction: Padraig Pearses.
GROUP A…at a glance
The meeting of old rivals Clann na nGael and St. Brigid’s will be fascinating. The return of Fergal Lennon for Clann (under new manager Liam Kerins) is a huge boost to them. Ultan Harney is doubtful (with a hamstring injury).
St. Brigid’s are in transition and Mark Daly is a long-term absentee. Senan Kilbride will be available for the first two rounds before heading off to Dubai for work purposes. They have plenty of young talent but this might be a year too soon for them.
Strokestown are always worth consideration in any discussion about possible title contenders, but they have flattered to deceive so often in the recent past.
Elphin will relish the challenge of playing in this group but will miss Shane Killoran. I’m predicting wins for Clann and Strokestown.
Clann na nGael v St Brigid’s on Saturday at Dr Hyde Park at 7 pm; Elphin v Strokestown on Saturday at 7 pm in Kilmore
GROUP B…at a glance
The very attractive meeting of Roscommon Gaels and Western Gaels brings two old friends (and now rival team managers) Liam McNeill and Fergal O’Donnell together in a head-to-head. The town side have been knocking at the door for the past five years and are hoping this will be their year.
Scott Oates is back and Mark Healy will also have a vital role to play. Patrick Fannon is an interesting addition to their armoury.
Western Gaels will be hoping for a revival under ‘Fergie’ and will be looking to the Creggs, Ciaran Cafferky and Seanie McDermott for inspiration as usual.
St. Croan’s will be eyeing up a possible victory against Fuerty, who are without Niall Kilroy and Aengus Lyons. I’m predicting a win for Roscommon Gaels and St. Croan’s v Fuerty could well finish level.
Roscommon Gaels v Western Gaels on Saturday at Lisnamult at 5 pm; St Croan’s v Fuerty on Saturday at Enfield at 7 pm
GROUP C…at a glance
The big game here is the clash of the champions Padraig Pearses and Boyle (see Game of Weekend). Last year’s intermediate champions Tulsk face a tough fixture against a Michael Glavey’s side that has a number of county players. Success for Tulsk would be to retain their senior status. Glavey’s to win.
Padraig Pearses v Boyle on Sunday in Pairc an Piarsiagh at 2 pm; Michael Glavey’s v Tulsk on Saturday in Ballinlough at 4 pm