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2012 Connacht Club SFC team-by-team guide

Here’s a look at the five teams in contention for this year’s senior club football crown in the western province ahead of the opening clash next Sunday in Kiltoom.

St Brigid's Frankie Dolan has celebrated Connacht club glory for the past two years.
St Brigid's Frankie Dolan has celebrated Connacht club glory for the past two years.
Image: INPHO/James Crombie

Fixtures

Oct 28th: Quarter-final – St Brigid’s (Roscommon) v Melvin Gaels (Leitrim), Kiltoom.

Nov 11th: Semi-finals – St Brigid’s (Roscommon)/Melvin Gaels (Leitrim) v Salthill-Knocknacarra (Galway), Carrick-on-Shannon/Pearse Stadium; Ballaghadereen (Mayo v Curry (Sligo), Elverys McHale Park, Castlebar.

Nov 25th: Final

GALWAY – Salthill/Knocknacarra
How have they reached this stage? The club’s third county senior football title was achieved earlier this month with a 0-12 to 0-7 final victory over Tuam Stars in Pearse Stadium.

What’s their track record at this level? On the two previous occasions that Salthill-Knocknacarra have ventured into Connacht, they have been successful. In 1990 they won the final against Leitrim’s Sean O’Heslin’s and in 2005 they were victorious in the decider against Roscommon’s St Brigid’s.

Any inter-county stars of note on the pitch? Team captain Finian Hanley and attacker Sean Armstrong are established members of the Galway football setup while David Tierney and Alan Kerins have been regular fixtures for the county hurlers in recent years.

Which young gun should we keep an eye on? Centre-back Gearoid Canavan, who was midfield on the Galway minor team that lost out in last year’s All-Ireland semi-final against Dublin, has impressed on the route to senior club glory this year.

Who’s calling the shots on the sideline? Belfast native Gerry Hughes who has been a resident in Salthill for a number of years is at the helm of the Galway club.

The odds on a title win? Salthill-Knocknacarra are second favourites at 2/1 to get their hands on silverware.

LEITRIM – Melvin Gaels
How have they reached this stage? For the first time since 1998, and for only the second time since 1965, the North Leitrim club were crowned county senior champions recently with a 2-7 to 0-7 win over Glencar-Manorhamilton and in the process they denied their opponents their fifth successive title.

What’s their track record at this level? In 1998 Melvin Gaels failed to reach the provincial final on their maiden voyage in Connacht and will hope for better luck on this occasion. Last year after winning the Leitrim IFC title, they fell short by 1-12 to 0-12 in the Connacht semi-final against Mayo outfit Davitt’s.

Any inter-county stars of note on the pitch? Fabian McMorrow, Paul Brennan and leading forward Emlyn Mulligan were all regular starters for the Leitrim senior outfit this year while Colin Regan has been a regular presence for the county in recent seasons.

Which young gun should we keep an eye on? Corner-back Shane Ryan is a reliable defender who was involved with the Leitrim U21′s this year.

Who’s calling the shots on the sideline? Billy Gavigan has guided Melvin Gaels to a county IFC title in 2011 and a county SFC crown in 2012 while previously lead Donegal club Bundoran to county intermediate football honours in 2010.

The odds on a title win? Melvin Gaels are the rank outsiders to claim provincial glory at 50/1.

MAYO – Ballaghaderreen
How have they reached this stage? Last Sunday Ballaghaderreen claimed county final honours, for the second time in five years, and in the process foiled Ballintubber’s bid for a third successive title with a 1-9 to 0-4 success.

What’s their track record at this level? Back in 1972 Ballaghaderreen suffered defeat in the Connacht final against Fr Griffin’s by 1-8 to 0-6 while four years ago they were beaten by Sligo’s Eastern Harps at the semi-final stage.

Any inter-county stars of note on the pitch? Ballaghaderreen’s marquee name is sidelined as Andy Moran continues to recover from cruciate ligament damage sustained with Mayo in August. The Kilcullen brothers, James and David, and Barry Regan have also seen county senior action in recent years while Joe Dillon won an All-Ireland U21 medal with Mayo in 2006.

Which young gun should we keep an eye on? Keith Rogers, full-back on the county minor side that reached the 2009 All-Ireland final, did a fine job in last Sunday’s final in curbing the influence of Ballintubber’s star attacker Alan Dillon.

Who’s calling the shots on the sideline? A native of Strokestown in Roscommon, Mark Dowd is in his first year in charge of Ballaghaderreen and is a former Roscommon selector at both minor and senior level.

The odds on a title win? Ballaghaderreen are valued at 3/1 to land their first provincial senior crown.

Ballaghaderreen’s Barry Regan celebrates after last Sunday’s Mayo county final. Pic: INPHO/James Crombie

ROSCOMMON – St Brigid’s
How have they reached this stage? St Brigid’s clinched another title in Roscommon with a 2-8 to 0-9 final win over Padraig Pearses this year and completed a three-in-a-row of county crowns.

What’s their track record at this level? St Brigid’s have been hugely successful and they are currently going for a third successive Connacht title. They also claimed provincial honours in 2006 while in 2005 and 2007 they suffered final defeats in their bid for glory in the western province.

Any inter-county stars of note on the pitch? Defender Peter Domican, midfielder Karol Mannion and attacker Senan Kilbride have become mainstays in the Roscommon senior side in recent years while Frankie Dolan also enjoyed a lengthy career in the Roscommon forward line.

Which young gun should we keep an eye on? Ronan Stack marked his first appearance in a county senior football final recently with an assured display. He showcased good form earlier in the year as he lined out at wing-back on the Roscommon U21 side that reached the All-Ireland final.

Who’s calling the shots on the sideline? Former Mayo star Kevin McStay has been handed the managerial reins this year and he is assisted on the sideline by fellow county man Liam McHale.

The odds on a title win? St Brigid’s are favourites to reign supreme in Connacht again at evens.

SLIGO – Curry
How have they reached this stage? Curry won their first county senior title in six years with a 1-16 to 1-10 final win over St Mary’s in the recent decider.

What’s their track record at this level? Curry’s two previous forays in Connacht have been in 2003 and 2006. In 2003 they lost out in the final to Galway’s Caltra by three points while in 2006 they lost out in the opening round against St Brigid’s by a point.

Any inter-county stars of note on the pitch? Attacking duo Adrian Marren and David Maye, who kicked 15 points between them in the county final victory, both lined out for Sligo this summer while captain Sean Davey only hung up his boots at inter-county level prior to this year.

Which young gun should we keep an eye on? Ciaran Brennan featured earlier this year for the Sligo U21 side and is a decent prospect.

Who’s calling the shots on the sideline? Anthony Brennan is an experienced operator who had enjoyed plenty success before this year’s triumph with Curry having previously won county titles in Longford with Fr Manning Gaels and twice in Sligo with his native Tubbercurry.

The odds on a title win? Curry are reckoned to be a 14/1 shot to win the Connacht title.

About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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