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Ballagh have to put it in for the full 60 minutes on Sunday

On what will be a unique day for football as a club from the geographical county of Roscommon will be Connacht champions. This will be the first time that St Brigid’s from Roscommon and Ballaghaderreen from Mayo/Roscommon will contest a provincial final. This unique pairing has presented an opportunity for some people to debate the age old argument of whether the Mayo boys should in fact be playing in Roscommon. As we all know, the town is administered by Roscommon County Council and for all intents and purposes is a Roscommon town, but it has declared its football allegiance to Mayo for the past 124 years. Whatever your views are on the issue, all of Mayo will be staunchly supporting the Ballagh boys in McHale Park on Sunday. I am not so sure they have the armoury to beat the Roscommon champions who, incidentally, are managed and coached by Kevin McStay and Liam McHale. I was in the Hodson Bay hotel during the week (Brigid’s territory) and many I spoke to are confident that not alone will Brigid’s win a Connacht title, but they feel they are good enough to win an All-Ireland this year. I’m not so sure but Sunday will give us a fair indication of their true worth. Ballaghaderreen, on the other hand, have been quite patchy in their recent performances. In their semi-final victory over Curry they were fortunate to be behind by just two points at half time. Had it been Brigid’s they were playing on that occasion Ballagh would have been out of sight by then. It could have been seven or eight. They did not get motoring until after half time and in fairness they were brilliant when they eventually did, playing arguably their finest football of the year in that second half. But if they are to stand any chance of winning on Sunday they will definitely need to perform for the entire 60 minutes.

The classic pairing promises a great final

Didn’t the summer slip by so quickly? What summer? I hear you ask. But here we are again at All- Ireland final weekend and the majority of us are still hoping for an Indian summer. Alas, it does not much look like it is coming our way now. But, we have the football All Ireland to look forward to and, this year in particular, it brings the promise of its own ray of sunshine. This final has definitely tickled the imagination of all GAA followers. The Dubs are back. But are they? Time will tell of course. As with every year the hunt for tickets is on in earnest and, also, as with other years, they are again at a premium like the proverbial ‘hen’s teeth’. Indeed it will be felt even more intensely this year as the pairing of Dublin/Kerry attracts far more neutrals than any other possible pairing. Every year, I get more than a few calls from family, cousins, friends, acquaintances, and occasionally from people I have never met in my life all looking for a ticket for the final. As this is the first Kerry/Dublin decider since 1985 it is a major box office draw. I have heard it suggested many times that participating counties should get the bulk of the tickets for finals. While there is a strong argument for that it would be wrong to deny genuine lovers of Gaelic football the opportunity of being at HQ for the highlight of the year.


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