Roscommon’s championship campaign came to an end on Saturday evening at the hands of Meath on a score line of 2-12 to 0-11. In the end, Meath’s experience, physical strength, belief, and greater scoring power were the main differences between the sides.
Meath, in their last two games, have clocked up 18 points, a score line which will win the majority of championship games. In contrast to that, Roscommon have not scored more than 11 points in four of their five championship games, a return which will not win many championship games. The majority of team’s left in the last eight of the All-Ireland series are on average scoring between 16 and 20 points over the 70 minutes. Kerry, Dublin, Tyrone, and Cork all fall into this category. Kildare have now added this dimension and have reaped the rewards with a place in the quarter finals. The other similarities these counties have is that they all possess a spread of scorers with all six forwards scoring threats. This cannot be said of Westmeath or Roscommon at the moment.
Westmeath still very much depend on Dessie Dolan and Dennis Glennon for the lion’s share of their scores while Fergal O’Donnell’s men have been far too reliant on Senan Kilbride from play and Donie Shine from placed balls. There is no doubt that both Fergal O’Donnell and the new Westmeath manager, whoever that may be, will be looking to see can they unearth some new forward talent and much needed scoring power in their respective club championships.
Roscommon will be overall reasonably happy with their performance on Saturday evening. They competed very well and fought extremely hard from start to finish. Fergal O’Donnell will be happy with how the year began getting to the FBD league final and gaining early wins over Offaly, Louth, and Longford. Their form tailed off in the later part of the league before they got the better of Leitrim in the first round of the Connaught. The defeat to Mayo was the low point of the campaign and will live long in their memory. However, that defeat, while hard to deal with at the time, will stand to this group of players. They’re young and will learn from it and you can bet they will come back next year ready to give the rest of Connaught a right run for their money.
Mayo minors made no mistake last weekend with a six point victory over Roscommon on a scoreline of 1-8 to 0-5. It was a scrappy game with the team’s level at half-time at three points apiece. A goal from Mayo midfielder Danny Kirby just after the break gave Mayo the upper hand and they pushed on to retain their title with relative ease. They now go on to meet Tipperary in the quarter final, while Roscommon face a tough assignment in Kerry in a bid to get their season back on track.
Westmeath club championship
Not too many Westmeath club players will get to see their horse’s coming up the hill in Ballybrit this weekend as there is another round of championship matches taking place over the bank holiday weekend. Most county boards realise that this is one weekend where many people have made plans long in advance and manoeuvre fixtures around this. However for the last two years, Westmeath county board has persisted in playing a round of championship games. Club players had to sit in the wilderness for over six weeks during the height of summer, yet once Westmeath’s run in the championship comes to an end, they seem to fix games at the drop of a hat. I, like many Westmeath gaels, enjoy nothing better than a day out at the Galway Races. As I am just recently married, this year my dress code would have been slightly different in that I would have been tongue tied and sporting blinkers at this year’s festival, but instead I have The Downs to think about. Athlone put in a good performance last weekend to get within three points of Tyrrellspass. They now need a victory here to move a step closer to a quarter final spot. Dermot Bannon is definitely out for Athlone after picking up a serious knee injury against Tyrrellspass. I missed the last championship match as I was on honeymoon, but like many of the horses running in Galway, I will definitely come on for the run this weekend! The Downs are without a win to date in the championship and desperately go in search of points. They lost out narrowly to St Malachy’s in the last game and will be out to get their season back on track.
Tyrrellspass and Coralstown/Kinnegad
Tyrrellspass are ticking along nicely in this year’s championship but they have yet to scale to heights that brought them two Flanagan cups in the last three years. They remain unbeaten to date, with victories over St Lomans, St Malachy’s, and Athlone and trainer Laz Molloy, former Offaly goalkeeper, will want to keep it that way. Kinnegad manager, Colm Coyle, however will have other ideas and will be pleased with the battling qualities and their scoring return in their one point win over St Lomans. Kinnegad need another win if they are to progress to a quarter final but Dennis Glennon and co will not make it easy for them.
St Loman’s and St Malachy’s
St Malachy’s, who were many people’s favourites to finish bottom of their group at the outset of the campaign, surprised many when they outbattled The Downs, and with confidence growing as a result, they will feel they have a chance of upsetting the odds against the Mullingar based side. St Loman’s, who have only one win to date, were unlucky not to get anything from the Kinnegad game. Anything other than a win for them this weekend will halt their progress for yet another year. Their greater scoring power however, with Conor Lynam, Paul Sharry, and Conrade Reilly likely to be to the fore, should see them advance.
Mullingar Shamrocks and Bunbrosna
Mullingar Shamrocks take on a Bunbrosna side, who, at the moment are firmly off the bridle and are lagging behind at the tail of the group. Bunbrosna, like The Downs are yet to gain a victory in this year’s championship with defeats coming at the hands of Maryland, Castledaly, and Garycastle. They will need to improve dramatically if they are to get anything out of this game. Mullingar Shamrocks are unbeaten in this year’s campaign They drew with Garycastle in the opening round and have since gone on to record wins over Killucan and Castledaly. While they won’t be happy with their performance against Castledaly, they probably won’t need to be at their best to collect both points and ease themselves into a place in the quarter finals at the very least.
Maryland and Castledaly
This promises to be a close encounter with the sides meeting for the first time in championship in quite a while. Maryland are going into this game on a high after an easy victory over Killucan and will hold no fears of meeting last year’s county champions. Castledaly, with only one win to date, need a victory here if they are go on to defend their title in October. Castledaly are very much a championship team and were in a similar position last year. When their backs are to the wall, Castledaly seem to find another gear so don’t rule them out just yet.
As I won’t get to Galway to back any horses this week, I’ve gone for a small wager on the Gaelic football. A five fold accumulator on Dublin to beat Kerry, Cork to beat Donegal, Tyrone to beat Kildare, St Lomans to beat St Malachy’s and Athlone to beat The Downs pays 9/1 and could pay for your long weekend!
Good luck to all teams and punters...