Monday 19 March 2018

Connacht SFC Preview


All-Ireland titles: 9 (2001)

Connacht titles: 40 (2008)

Manager: Joe Kernan (first season)

Captain: Michael Meehan

Last year: Galway 1-18 London 1-7; Galway 1-13 Sligo 1-12; Galway 1-14 Mayo 2-12 (Connacht Final); Galway 0-13 Donegal 0-14 (All-Ireland Qualifiers Rd 4)

2010 NFL: 5th in Division 1 (P7 W3 D0 L4)

Last big Championship achievement: 2008 Connacht champions.

Key man: Diarmuid Blake. Serious question marks hang over their full-back line, which makes Blake's job at centre-back even more pivotal.

Who could make a name for himself: Relative newcomer Eoin Concannon emerged to make a name for himself at corner-forward during the league, both from play and placed balls.

Fantasy signing: Sean Cavanagh. Midfield has been a weakness for them for some years and Kernan likes his centre-fielders to help out all round, so a player with Cavanagh's engine and versatility would make a huge difference to Galway.

Prospects: If they get to the Connacht final, they should win it because they're in the tough side of the draw and have to beat Mayo or Sligo to do so.

Odds: All-Ireland 14/1; Connacht 11/10.

Next game: May 27, v Mayo or Sligo in Castlebar/Galway.


All-Ireland titles: 0

Connacht titles: 2 (1994)

Manager: Mickey Moran and John Morrison (second season)

Captain: John McKeon

Last year: Leitrim 2-9 Roscommon 2-13; Roscommon 0-10 Longford 0-13 (All-Ireland Qualifiers Rd 1).

2010 NFL: 5th in Division 4 (P8 W4 D4 L4).

Last big Championship achievement: 1994 Connacht title.

Key man: Free-taker Michael Foley is regularly their top scorer and he showed a return to some of his best form during the league.

Who could make a name for himself: The management tried out a lot of players during the league and Wayne McKeon (Ballinamore) caught the eye at wing-back.

Fantasy signing: Bernard Brogan. Like many lower division teams, Leitrim are usually well organised defensively, but lack a flair forward like Brogan to open up defences and open up their attacking options.

Prospects: Being on the easy side of draw meant it was better than for many years, but the tragic death of team-mate Philly McGuinness has left them grieving deeply and lifting themselves from that will be difficult.

Odds: All-Ireland 500/1; Connacht 25/1.

First game: June 20 v Roscommon/London, Hyde Park/Carrick-on-Shannon.


All-Ireland titles: 3 (1951)

Connacht titles: 42 (2009)

Manager: John O'Mahony (fourth season)

Captain: Trevor Mortimer

Last year: Mayo 2-19 New York 0-10; Mayo 3-18 Roscommon 0-7; Mayo 2-12 Galway 1-14 (Connacht Final); Mayo 1-15 Meath 2-15 (All-Ireland Quarter-final)

2010 NFL: 2nd in Division 1, beaten finalists (P8 W6 D0 L2).

Last big Championship achievement: Won Connacht last year and 2006 All-Ireland finalists.

Key man: Attacking wing-back Kevin McLoughlin was one of the stars of last year's U-21s and was one of their few players to impress in the NFL final.

Who could make a name for himself: Aidan O'Shea's older brother Seamus (pictured right )had really impressed during the league and needs to recover quickly from the league final because they badly need leadership in midfield.

Fantasy signing: Alan Brogan -- or any forward capable of firing with accuracy from outside the 30m range. Mayo only seem capable of scoring within 20 metres of goal and can't open defences with that flaw.

Prospects: A lot worse since the league final. That performance, and the hype now surrounding Sligo, makes a backlash possible. If Mayo can recover their composure, they would then have to face Galway. If they retain their title they'll have really earned it.

Odds: All-Ireland 12/1; Connacht 5/4.

First game: June 5 v Sligo, Markievicz Park.


All-Ireland titles: 2 (1944)

Connacht titles: 19 (2001)

Manager: Fergal O'Donnell (second season)

Captain: Peter Domican

Last year: Roscommon 2-13 Leitrim 2-9; Roscommon 0-7 Mayo 3-18; Roscommon 0-11 Wexford 1-8 (All-Ireland Qualifiers Rd 2), Roscommon 0-11 Wexford 0-8 (replay); Roscommon 0-11 Meath 2-12 (All-Ireland Qualifiers Rd 3)

2010 NFL: 7th in Division 3 and relegated (P7 W1 D0 L6)

Last big Championship achievement: 2006 All-Ireland minor champions.

Key man: Donie Shine. Even though they got relegated he was the second highest scorer in Division 3 with a booming long-range shot which is why the Aussies are already sniffing around him.

Who could make a name for himself: U-21 full-back Neil Collins (Castlerea), who captained the U-21s Connacht title victory, is tipped to make the step-up this summer.

Fantasy signing: Brian Dooher. Roscommon have seriously lacked leadership in recent years, especially the sort of player who will grab a game by the scruff of the neck and single-handedly win it, if needs be.

Prospects: London gave them a right rattle five years ago and are a potential banana skin, but if they win they have Leitrim in 'The Hyde', so a Connacht final place is very realistic and a huge carrot for the Rossies this summer.

Odds: Roscommon 300/1; Connacht 15/2.

First game: May 30 v London, Ruislip.


All-Ireland titles: 0

Connacht titles: 3 (2007)

Manager: Kevin Walsh (second season)

Captain: Charlie Harrison

Last year: Sligo 0-12 Galway 1-13; Sligo 1-13 Tipperary

1-12 (All-Ireland Qualifiers Rd 2); Sligo 1-10 Kerry 0-14 (All-Ireland Qualifiers Rd 3)

2010 NFL: Won Division 3 (P8 W6 D0 L2)

Last big Championship achievement: 2007 Connacht champions.

Key man: Harrison is the rock on which Sligo's whole game is built. One of the best corner-backs in the game at the moment.

Who could make a name for himself: Stephen Gilmartin is still only an U-21, but has given real leadership already and is a midfielder who can score as well.

Fantasy signing: Kieran Donaghy -- or any towering full-forward because Sligo lack a tall target-man to secure ball and dish it out to nippy forwards like Adrian Marren, Colm McGee and Alan Costello.

Prospects: The best they've been since 2007 after winning back-to-back league titles, but to win a Connacht final they'll have to beat both of the province's only Division 1 sides, which is a big ask.

Odds: All-Ireland 100/1; Connacht 16/1.

First game: June 5 v Mayo, Markievicz Park.


All-Ireland titles: 0

Connacht titles: 0

Manager: Noel Dunning (sixth season)

Captain: Conor Beirne

Last year: London 1-7 Galway 1-18; London 1-7 Down 1-16 (All-Ireland Qualifiers Rd 1)

2010 NFL: 8th in Division 4 (P8 W1 D0 L7)

Last big Championship achievement: Beat Leitrim in Carrick in 1977.

Key man: Ex-Galway player Paul Geraghty was injured during the league but he has been the Exiles' big leader for the last few years.

Who could make a name for himself? Centre-forward Killian Phair, their top scorer during the National League.

Fantasy signing: Tomas O Se -- or a similar defensive totem, because during the league London conceded a whopping 7-120 which was nearly twice as much as the 4-71 they scored.

Prospects: This is their best chance of winning a game since meeting Leitrim in Connacht in 2007, particularly as they memorably ran Roscommon to a point in 2005.

Odds: All-Ireland 2000/1; Connacht 200/1.

First game: May 30 v Roscommon, Ruislip.

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