Sunday, August 16, 2020

The book has closed on the final round of group games in the Roscommon senior and intermediate club football championships, and the fate of the 24 clubs has been sealed. Six clubs face relegation playoffs, four are 60 minutes away from a quarter final slot, and the other 14 are safely into knockout football. But drilling down a bit deeper, what are the big news stories that we can take away from the weekend gone by?

The Senior vs Intermediate champion gap doesn’t materialise here in Roscommon

For a lot of neutral supporters, the first game they saw since the lockdown was the televised Galway SFC game between the reigning Galway, Connacht and All-Ireland senior champions Corofin, and the Galway, Connacht and All-Ireland intermediate champions from Oughterard – a game that finished in a landslide 7-17 to 0-11 win for Corofin. The reigning senior and intermediate champions also met in the first round in Westmeath where a final score of 5-11 to 0-5 in favour of Garrycastle over Caulry told its own story.

On Saturday, Glencar-Manorhamilton edged out Leitrim Gaels 2-10 to 1-10, so the gap wasn’t as big there, while Tourlestrane will play Geevagh in the corresponding fixture in Sligo this coming weekend. One should expect a world of difference between senior and intermediate winners in any competition, so for Pádraig Pearses to fall short against Tulsk Lord Edwards on Saturday evening is a stark indictment of where they stand right now, even allowing for the fact that their knockout place was secured.

Given that they will face either St. Brigid’s, Western Gaels or Roscommon Gaels in the next round, the champions could pay a price for their lethargy.

Evan Flynn attempting to set up another Tulsk attack during Saturday’s clash with Padraig Pearses. Picture: Steve Fahey

A surprising number of teams taking good form into relegation playoffs

Looking back over the weekend, Fuerty didn’t get the local derby win they might have craved against Roscommon Gaels but they did put it right up to the 2019 county finalists, and will feel that they are at least starting to show some of the form they produced last year.

Strokestown took on a good Clann na nGael team and were well in the hunt with ten minutes to go, despite some dreadful wides, and they will welcome back Cathal Compton for that relegation playoff, while Tulsk have just recorded arguably one of the best results in the club’s history.

Even at intermediate level, Kilbride will feel that after scoring 4-10 and 1-18 in their last two matches they have a lot going for them, while Castlerea St. Kevin’s produced some their best performance of the year against Kilmore and look like they may have turned a corner too. Of the six teams battling the drop, only St. Barry’s played like a side staring down the barrel of relegation at the weekend.

Western Gaels the unlucky side in the draw

Three wins out of three, the best scoring difference in the senior championship, just 28 scores conceded – Western Gaels couldn’t really have done much more in this championship so far. They’ve topped their group and earned a seeding, but because of the vagaries of the draw, the three possibilities for a quarter-final fixture are reigning champions Pearses, a resurgent Clann na nGael side, or the winner of the Elphin vs Glaveys fixture. If it’s either of the first two options, it’s hardly much of a reward for their efforts.

Ciarán Cafferky and Western Gaels didn’t get the rub of the green in this evening’s draw. Picture: Michelle Hughes-Walsh

Scoring rates exploding

4-20 for Western Gaels. 4-17 for St. Aidan’s. 3-17 for St. Brigid’s. And that’s before you come to Kilbride (1-18), Clann na nGael (0-17), Ballinameen (2-15), St. Faithleach’s (0-18) or Boyle (1-15). Summer conditions are a big help and it’s probably a factor that very few teams have had much time to put in place strong defensive systems, but even allowing for all that, some of the scoring at the weekend was very impressive, and has made for some very enjoyable football.

Breakaway pack forming at the head of the JFC

The second teams of Clann na nGael and St. Brigid’s were always likely to be strong contenders at this grade and so it has proved as both clubs have recorded two wins from two so far. St. Brigid’s dealt a hammer blow to St. Ronan’s by beating them in Tulsk by 1-12 to 0-13, a goal from Conor Quinn and a penalty save from Seamus Smith the key moments in that one.

Clann racked up a big win over Elphin while St. Michael’s are also very much in the hunt after comfortably accounting for Boyle, with Roscommon Gaels also on four points from two games, albeit in what looks like a slightly weaker section A.

However the big shock of the weekend was Pádraig Pearses’ 2-14 to 1-7 win over Kilglass Gaels, a hammer blow to the chances of the 2018 junior champions. An early red card badly hurt the East Roscommon club, and once Niall Finneran added a second half goal to go with Eanna Ryan’s first half strike, the result was settled. With Clann na nGael next up in their final fixture, the pressure is on in Kilglass.



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