It’s almost beyond our collective memory – well, not quite, but it has been a while – since we last played in an FBD League final but this Friday evening at the Connacht GAA Centre of Excellence Air Dome we take on Roscommon in this year’s provincial pre-season decider.
Throw-in at the Dome is 7.30pm on Friday. Tickets – a limited amount of them, given the venue – will go on sale closer to the day and the match is also being broadcast live on TG4.
With freezing cold weather for the next few days, most likely followed by wind and rain heading into the weekend, the decision to play all the FBD games under cover in the Dome seems to have turned out to be well justified. Soon enough we’ll all be getting our fill and more of bracing outdoors conditions for matches.
Hands up all those who know the name of the spoils we’re competing for on Friday!
The answer is the Paddy Francis Dwyer Cup – that’s according to Mike Finnerty in the Mayo News, who imparted that pearl of wisdom in his match report on the 2010 final. No, I didn’t know that either.
That 2010 success was one of seven FBD title wins for us, our most recent one being in 2012, when we beat NUIG to claim an improbable pre-season three-in-a-row. We haven’t, however, been in a final since then, though we can, with some justification, claim that we’ve made more productive use of the last decade.
Galway, by the way, are the FBD kings. They’re on ten titles, Roscommon have five, Leitrim two (in a row as well, they won in both 2013 and 2014), with Sligo, GMIT and IT Sligo having one each. So now for you. (All data there from Wikipedia, by the way.)
Roscommon qualified for Friday’s final meeting with us by getting the better of Sligo last Friday evening in the other semi-final. Like our match against Galway the following evening, that one featured a Dome-like scoreline (3-17 to 2-13), with the Rossies coming from three behind at the break to win by seven.
To say that the Sheepstealers are frequent contestants of recent FBD deciders would be a bit of an understatement. Indeed, the only time since 2014 that they didn’t play in an FBD final was in 2021, for the very good reason that the pre-season tournament wasn’t played off that year due to the Covid pandemic.
This means, somewhat astonishingly, that Friday’s final against us is their ninth FBD decider on the trot. None of those previous finals were against us – see above point regarding our non-appearance in Paddy Francis Dwyer Cup deciders since 2012 – and they came out on top in three of them: 2015, 2018 and 2019. (All that info is from Wikipedia too).
In light of our respective January showings over the past decade, it’s no shock that they’ve had the better of recent pre-season exchanges between us. (The stats that follow are from the results archive here on the blog).
They beat us in group matches (when the FBD really was a league competition) in 2018, 2016, 2015 and 2014. We did, though, amid much hilarity, overhaul them at the death on a sunny winter’s afternoon at Kiltoom in 2017.
The only time this century that we’ve contested an FBD final against the Rossies was way back in 2003. That was even well before this blog first saw the light of day and we won that decider in Ballinlough by the very outdoor score of 0-14 to 0-6. And that one wasn’t played until April that year.
Truly, it’s hard to beat the FBD. Even if, when all is said and done, it’s only the FBD.