PEARSE STADIUM PLAYS host to the highly-anticipated Connacht SFC final meeting of reigning champions Galway and Roscommon this weekend, with the Nestor Cup and a coveted Super 8s spot up for grabs.
It’s an interesting one, the clash of the 2017 and 2018 winners — and a repeat of both finals — with the Rossies surely coming in full of confidence after knocking Mayo out in the semi-final.
They also saw off a rising Leitrim side in their route to the decider while, Kevin Walsh’s Tribesmen, on the other hand, opened their defence with an unconvincing win against London before a facile victory over Sligo in the last four.
Despite Roscommon maybe having a slight bit more momentum after knocking James Horan’s Mayo out, Galway will surely still wear the favourites tag.
And it’s a showdown former dual star Alan Kerins is relishing, all things considered.
“I hope the weather doesn’t ruin it,” he said at the launch of the 2019 Electric Ireland GAA Minor Star Awards Panel earlier this week.
“Pearse Stadium can be a nightmare. Depending on the breeze, it can ruin it. Roscommon surprised us — well, not surprised us, but they won there a few years ago .
I suppose it’s interesting with Anthony Cunningham coming back — [ex-]Galway hurling manager leading Roscommon back into the football championship. Great achievement for Anthony. Very good win over Mayo.
“It’s hard to know where Galway are, they played London and they played Sligo, they had a very poor league run.
Roscommon manager Anthony Cunningham.
Source: Evan Logan/INPHO
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“But I still think Galway probably should [edge it]. The home venue, plus their defensive system, plus if they can play that really sharp counter-break. They have pace in Shane Walsh and Eamonn Brannigan and all these guys. They can play that really fast offensive [game].
And have really good forwards, they have some of the best forwards in the country in Galway, collectively, as a unit. If they can free those guys up to express themselves, I think we should have enough to beat Roscommon, definitely.
Conditions at the Salthill venue more often than not play a big factor in the game at hand, and it’s rather interesting that Kerins, a Connacht champion himself in both codes, mention that first.
The 2001 All-Ireland SFC winner has plenty of first-hand experience of playing there himself, and knows just how much conditions can dictate a game.
It can be a game of two halves really if the wind is really strong,” he explains, “especially for football because in hurling the ball can travel a little bit more into the breeze but in football, you really need to work it and it can be quite difficult to kick into that goals to score.
“And then it’s a swirling wind so it depends what wind is there. It wouldn’t be my favourite venue, to be honest, to play a game just because you don’t know what [the conditions are going to be like].
“And even on a fine day there could be a breeze there but nowhere else, it’s just off the sea there on the prom.
“I don’t want to say too much about my home venue,” he laughs, “but your’e kind of getting the gist I suppose. It can be very difficult.”
Alan Kerins at an Electric Ireland gig during the week.
Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO
On the Galway hurling front, Kerins feels that his county side’s win over Kilkenny at Nowlan Park was the “game of the year so far” and it was the “big momentum-shifter” that Michéal Donoghue’s men needed.
“They were a different team,” he added. “It was great to see their intensity, their work-rate. the challenges, the different leaders standing up.
“It was great to see them deliver on what they’re truly potential [of] and their intensity. They’re right back in now as a real championship contender. With the prospect of Joe [Canning] coming back in a couple of weeks, they’re starting to gain momentum at the right time.
This time of year, it’s all about who gets the momentum at the right time. The league form doesn’t make a difference, even the Leinster championship doesn’t make a difference. It’s who gets that momentum.
Donegal’s most decorated Footballer, Karl Lacey, former Galway dual-star, Alan Kerins, former Waterford Hurling Manager, Derek McGrath and former Dublin footballer, Tomás Quinn join forces as the 2019 Panel for the Electric Ireland GAA Minor Star Awards.
This year Electric Ireland’s #GAAThisIsMajor campaign, now in its sixth year, will highlight the positive impact that the Minor Championship has on players long after their days on the field as a Minor have ended.
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