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Dublin: 12 °C Monday 10 August, 2020

5 talking points ahead of today's Connacht U21 football final

Leitrim take on arch-rivals Roscommon in the provincial decider today.

Roscommon manager Nigel Dineen.
Roscommon manager Nigel Dineen.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

Leitrim’s big day

LEITRIM’S SEMI-FINAL win over Galway was their first victory at the U21 grade since 1998.

Going into additional time the sides were level, but Leitrim showed huge desire in creating the chance for Niall Brady to score his dramatic injury-time winner and in doing so set up his county for their first provincial final in 15 years.

Leitrim are always tricky opponents in Páirc Seán Mac Diarmada and they usually need little more motivation than the sight of a yellow and blue jersey.

But in beating last year’s All-Ireland winners, a team which contained eight players who lined out in the All-Ireland decider in May, they will have gained confidence which will worry the Rossies.

Five in a row

This will be Roscommon’s fifth consecutive U21 Connacht final. Manager Nigel Dineen has been involved as a selector or manager in three of the four finals so far, with his team winning two and losing two.

In all of those years Roscommon have only been beaten by the eventual All-Ireland winners, and they will be hoping the experience gained will stand to them.

Also, this Roscommon team contains ten players who featured in last year’s u21 team who were defeated in extra time of the provincial decider to Galway.

Manager Nigel Dineen will be hoping that hurt will be the driving force for his team this time around. And in using 24 players in the two games so far this year he has clearly been doing his utmost to avoid any complacency.

Donie Smith, Roscommon:

Buzz Factor

Both counties are on a high at the moment. Leitrim’s senior team have only lost one competitive game this year,and after winning the FBD league they are now on the precipice of league promotion. And with the success of their U21 team, and their minor team, expectations have soared.

Roscommon have had an equally excellent start to the year. Having gained promotion to division two of next year’s league, with two games remaining, Roscommon’s young footballers are full of confidence and form at the moment.

The likes of 19 year-old Diarmuid Murtagh, off the back of 2-05 so far in this year’s National football league, will be hard stopped in this form.

Donal Wyrnn, Leitrim:

Senior contrasts

Five Roscommon u21s have featured for the county senior team in this year’s league campaign, scoring 5-13 between them.

Leitrim though, surprisingly, have only one u21 who has lined out for their senior team this year.

Donal Wrynn, who played at full-back for much of the league is the sole Leitrim u21 who played in Division 4 this year.

Manager Shane Ward used 18 players during their shock one point semi-final victory and he is likely to have a full compliment to select from for the final.

Roscommon on the other hand have been hampered by injuries. The unfortunate Kevin Finn suffered a season ending injury in the semi-final win over Sligo, while last year’s centre back John McManus has only recently returned from injury.

Last year’s minor captain Ultan Harney remains a major injury concern.

Will there be a case of fresher, hungrier legs?

John Maloney with Donal Wrynn Donal Wrynn, right, in action for DCU. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

History to repeat itself?

Since the U21 competition began in 1964, either Galway or Mayo have won 41 of the 50 championships played.

The first time Roscommon met Leitrim in a Connacht final at this grade was in 1977.

In only the second-ever such fixture Leitrim defeated Roscommon 1-3 to 0-5 in a typically low scoring affair in Carrick-on-Shannon.

While the last time the teams met in a Connacht senior championship was in 1914, 100 years ago, in a game Roscommon won 1-02 to 0-01 in Dr Hyde Park. This rare Connacht final will no doubt be one to keep an eye on.

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