Saturday 19 August 2017

Connacht: County-by -county

Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

Galway: All-Ireland titles: 9 (last in 2001),Connacht titles: 40 (2008)





Manager: Tomas O Flatharta (first season)

Captain: Finian Hanley

Last year: Galway 2-13, New York 0-12; Galway 1-10, Sligo 1-10 ; Galway 0-16, Sligo 1-14 (Connacht semi-final replay); Wexford 1-11, Galway 0-13 (second round qualifer)

2011 NFL: 8th Div 1 (W1, D1, L5). Relegated.

Last big championship achievement: 2008 Connacht champions.

Key man: Michael Meehan (above). Injury has deprived Galway of their forward star since last year's Connacht semi-final replay and they're counting the days until his return.

Who could make a name for himself? Colin Forde.

Very steady at full-back in Galway's U-21 campaign and, with Finian Hanley being shifted to midfield, could do a job at No 3 this summer.

Fantasy signing: Darragh O Se (Kerry). U-21 star Thomas Flynn (Athenry) is developing into the sort of powerful midfielder that Galway have lacked for far too long but, just out of the minor ranks, is probably not ready for the heat of senior championship yet.

Prospects: Not good. On top of their league relegation they're not into action until June 26 and have an away semi-final, most likely in Castlebar. Lying idle from April 11 to June 26 can go one of two ways and unless they can get it together with help from their U-21s they're not going to turn it around this season.

Odds: All-Ireland 33/1, Connacht 19/10

First game: v London/Mayo, Ruislip or Castlebar, Sunday, June 26.

All-Ireland titles: 0

Connacht titles: 2 (1994)

Managers: Mickey Moran (third season)

Captain: James Glancy

Last year: Leitrim 0-11, Roscommon 1-13 (Connacht semi-final); Kildare 1-12, Leitrim 0-6 (second-round qualifier).

2011 NFL: 7th Div 4 (P8*, W3, L5* -- gave London a walkover in last round).

Last big championship achievement: 1994 Connacht title.

Key man: The talented Emlyn Mulligan is back after two cruciate injuries and his free-taking is their primary source of scores.

Who could make a name for himself? Corner-forward Adrian Croal was Leitrim's 'Club Player of the Year' last season and can help share the scoring burden.

Fantasy signing: Tomas Quinn (Dublin). Leitrim had a scoring average of less than 12 points in most of their league games. Take away the Kilkenny result and they scored only one goal in six matches -- so a quicksilver goal-getter like Quinn would radically improve their scoring averages.

Prospects: Not good. Only Kilkenny and London finished below them in a bad league campaign and having to travel to Sligo doesn't help either.

Odds: All-Ireland 1000/1, Connacht 50/1

First game: v Sligo, Markievicz Park, Sunday, May 22.

All-Ireland titles: 3 (1951)

Connacht titles: 42 (2009)

Manager: James Horan (first season)

Captain: Alan Dillon

Last year: Mayo 1-8, Sligo 0-15 (Connacht quarter-final); Longford 1-12, Mayo 0-14 (round one qualifier).

2011 NFL: 5th Div 1 (W2, D1, L4).

Last big championship achievement: Won Connacht in 2009.

Key man: Andy Moran (left). No matter what line of attack he's thrown into, Moran does a mountain of unseen work and is a selfless leader in a Mayo attack that could do with more of it.

Who could make a name for himself? Jason Doherty. The flying corner-forward from Burrishoole has already made his mark by scoring five goals in seven league games, though he'll be marked a lot tighter from here on in.

Fantasy signing: Stephen Cluxton (Dublin). Given Mayo's historical inaccuracies you'd be tempted to say a sniper like Bernard Brogan, but their defence has been terribly porous at times this year (conceding 11-85 in NFL) and could do with a defensive general like the Dublin goalkeeper to boss them into shape.

Prospects: The first year with a manager is always the best time to make hay. If they beat London they've a home draw to Galway, so despite their transitional nature they are understandably title favourites.

Odds: All Ireland 25/1, Connacht 7/5

First game: v London, Ruislip, Sunday, May 29.

All-Ireland titles: 2 (1944)

Connacht titles: 20 (2010)

Manager: Fergal O'Donnell (3rd season)

Captain: Peter Domican

Last year: Roscommon 0-14, London 0-6; Roscommon 1-13, Leitrim 0-11; Roscommon 0-14, Sligo 0-13 (Connacht final); Roscommon 0-10, Cork 1-16 (All-Ireland quarter-final).

2011 NFL: Beaten Division 2 finalists (W7, D1, L0, then lost final to Longford by 2-11 to 1-8.

Last big championship achievement: Reigning Connacht champions.

Key man: Donie Shine. When he's on form, his booming long-range shot and free-taking accuracy makes him the sort of threat that opens up space for others.

Who could make a name for himself? Cathal Cregg. The DCU player no longer has bleached locks but he's still catches the eye and almost singlehandedly dragged Roscommon back into the league final. Just needs to find consistency to become a household name.

Fantasy signing: Martin Clarke (Down). As their league final showed, Roscommon have a tendency to panic and fade out of games. Someone with Clarke's presence and vision would be ideal to hold up the ball and organise them when things go against them.

Prospects: When they got the traditionally easier side of the draw, their prospects looked very good. But their league final performance has thrown up serious doubts about Roscommon and in their provincial semi-final, they'll meet Sligo, who will be gunning for them after last year's Connacht final defeat.

Odds: All-Ireland 150/1, Connacht 6/1.

First game: Beat New York 3-21 to 1-11 (Gaelic Park, the Bronx). Play winners of Leitrim/Sligo in Connacht semi-final.

All-Ireland titles: 0

Connacht titles: 3 (2007)

Manager: Kevin Walsh (third season)

Captain: Charlie Harrison

Last year: Sligo 0-15, Mayo 1-8; Sligo 1-10, Galway 1-10; Sligo 1-14, Galway 0-16 (replay); Sligo 0-13, Roscommon 0-14 (Connacht final); Sligo 0-10, Down 2-20 (round four qualifier).

2011 NFL: 27th Div 2 (P7, W1, D1, L5). Relegated.

Last big championship achievement: Last year's beaten Connacht finalists.

Key man: Corner-back and captain Charlie Harrison (left). After years of brilliant service, he finally got All Star recognition last season.

Who could make a name for himself? David Maye. Still an U-21 and hasn't yet nailed down a regular starting slot, but with his stature and shooting ability he could be a real impact sub.

Fantasy signing: Marc O Se (Kerry). Traditionally Sligo have lacked a big man at midfield or centre-forward -- but more worrying this season is that they conceded more (7-90) than they scored (6-83) in the league, so their defence needs to tighten up.

Prospects: Home advantage for opener against Leitrim should help steady the ship and they won't want for motivation then in a likely rematch with Roscommon. But their league form this season doesn't indicate they've improved any.

Odds: All-Ireland 1000/1, Connacht 9/2

First game: v Leitrim, Markievicz Park, Sunday, May 22.

All-Ireland titles: 0

Connacht titles: 0

Manager: Paul Coggins

Captain: Sean McVeigh

Last year: London 0-6, Roscommon 0-14 (Connacht quarter-final); London 0-9, Wexford 4-22 (round one qualifier).

2011 NFL: 8th Div 4 (P8*, W2*, L6 -- got a walkover from Leitrim in final round).

Last big championship achievement: Beat Leitrim in 1977 in Carrick-on-Shannon.

Key man: Sean McVeigh. Having lost Paul Geraghty, Conor Beirne and Eamonn O'Cuiv, the Exiles will be dependent on their midfielder from Antrim.

Who could make a name for himself? Mark Gottsche, a midfielder from Oranmore Maree, is a recent additions and could feature in the forwards.

Fantasy signing: Conor Gormley (Tyrone). London conceded 10-95 in seven NFL games and could do with a commanding centre-back.

Prospects: Only one 'real' win in Division 4 -- little chance of a first championship win in 34 years.

Odds: All Ireland 1,000/1, Connacht 500/1

First game: v Mayo, Ruislip, Sunday, May 29.



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