Although most of the focus for the coming weekend is on our league clash with Donegal on Sunday, it’s an important weekend for Tony Duffy’s U21 side too. We got a bye into the provincial semi-final this year and today our opponents in that penultimate round fixture were confirmed as Galway. The young Tribesmen easily took care of Sligo’s challenge in this afternoon’s preliminary round tie at Tuam Stadium, winning by an eyebrow-raising 1-20 to 0-7.
We’ve had a lean few years at U21 level, following the heady provincial four-in-a-row we’d enjoyed during the Holmes, Connelly and Collins era, an era that also delivered in 2006 – our most recent All-Ireland title at this level. Ray Dempsey’s stint as U21 manager was, unlike his time in charge of the minors, an unhappy one. Under Ray’s three-year watch we failed to reach a single Connacht U21 final, let alone win any, with Roscommon putting paid to our hopes in each of these three years.
Tony Duffy had mixed fortunes as minor manager but he’s now been given the chance to test his mettle at U21 level. Going on today’s performance by Galway the first test that Tony faces this coming Saturday is a formidable one and, with no backdoor safety net at this level, it’ll be a case of do-or-die for the U21s at Tuam Stadium on Saturday. The match throws in at 4pm that afternoon, by the way, with Roscommon’s Paddy Neilan reffing it.
While we’re on the subject of refs, it’s been confirmed that Marty Duffy will take charge of Sunday’s league clash with Donegal. The Sligo whistler also reffed our league match with the O’Donnell County last year and that was also the most recent occasion that we’ve come across him.