Ladies eager for redemption
The TG4 Connacht ladies intermediate football final will be contested between Roscommon and Sligo for the second year running on Sunday next in MacHale Park, Castlebar.
The 2019 decider has all the ingredients for another hard fought and close encounter.
Previous meetings have been fiercely contested between the two sides and a quick glance at the recent Division 3 national league table will provide evidence of the similar ability of the respective challengers as they both ended that league campaign on a similar points total in joint second position.
Sligo did win the regular league fixture and indeed the subsequent league semi-final between the sides, however Roscommon come into the match as defending champions so fans may be looking forward to a match which could be compelling viewing.
The girls from the north west quickly blew away any cobwebs that might have been in the system from their league final defeat at the hands of the royal County after registering a convincing win over Leitrim in their sole championship outing so far in 2019.
That aforementioned league final defeat perhaps slightly provided a disappointing finish to a very impressive league run which resulted in individual in recognition for Aoife Morrisroe, Bernice Byrne and Lauren Boles all of whom were selected on the Division 3 team of the league.
After spending several years battling it out with Leitrim for the right to be viewed as the top intermediate team in the west, Sligo will now be eager to end Roscommon's reign as provincial champions.
Jackie Mulligan will be one of the players that will be leading by example and points to the extra degree of freshness in their set up as part of their success so far.
John O'Hara and David Curran have come in as joint managers for the 2019 season. The duo seem to bounce well of each other and have certainly secured a positive response from the girls.
The management team accept that one of their biggest challenges of the season is awaiting them on Sunday afternoon and their immediate attention is completely focused on trying to win the Connacht title.
Sligo also have that vital requirement of a good mixture of youth and experience running right through the team.
Roscommon made no secret that their big ambition for 2018 was to win the Connacht title and with that achieved the team face a slightly different challenge this time round.
The Roscommon revival in recent times has coincided with the appointment of Michael Finneran as manager.
Under his guidance Roscommon secured a first ever Connacht title last year when his side defeated Sligo in the Connacht final.
Finneran's challenge this time round is to ensure that the hunger and desire is there to retain the title.
Since last year's famous victory Roscommon have suffered two reversals against Sligo.
Although not overly concerned by those setbacks the Roscommon manager is still well aware of the capability of this Sligo side.
Roscommon have also enjoyed a championship win so far against Leitrim.
Joanne Cregg was one of their key performers in their league run and was selected on the league team of the year for their division.
The Roscommon girls certainly enjoyed their taste of success from last year and Sinead Kenny is another player that they will look to for leadership and inspiration to in Sunday's final.
The St Croan's player is somebody that seems to relish the challenges and enjoys the big occasions such as the Provincial final and is also aware that Roscommon will have to overcome a serious obstacle in order to hold on to their title.
In previewing the final both management teams have admitted that there should be the minimum of margins between the sides. That acknowledgment in itself will lead to greater competition when it comes to the battle from the dugouts. Match up's are going to play a big part and the fact that the sides are familiar with each other and their strengths will result in every switch coming under the spotlight.
The 2019 Connacht Ladies intermediate final should be a very interesting and competitive match on Sunday. The advice for those traveling to Sunday's double header is to arrive early and to take in the first instalment of the day which has the potential to produce another epic encounter between Sligo and Roscommon.