The first of this year’s Connacht SFC semi-finals takes place on Sunday. Dr Hyde Park in Roscommon is the venue, our old pal Joe McQuillan is the ref for it and he’ll be throwing the ball in there at 1.15pm. The match will be shown live on RTÉ.
2021 has, so far at any rate, been an unhappy one for both of these counties. Starting this year’s truncated National League campaign in Division One South in the august company of Dublin and Kerry, it was no surprise that neither of them managed to get any change from their meetings with the big two.
Galway shipped a woeful battering in Tralee, Kerry hammering them out the gate on a scoreline of 4-21 to 0-11. The following day Roscommon fared better by comparison against Dublin, losing at Hyde Park by 1-22 to 0-16.
The Westerners then played each other and I guess it’s that game that provides the best guide to how Sunday’s contest might go. Galway won that Pearse Stadium encounter by six points, with that 2-16 to 1-13 victory ending a truly horrendous losing run for them, one that stretched all the way back to before the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Despite both losing again in Round 3, Roscommon and Galway gave fairly good accounts of themselves. Galway lost by four points to Dublin at Tuam, on a scoreline of 2-16 to 1-15, while Roscommon fell to Kerry by six points at Hyde Park, losing out by 2-15 to 1-12.
That meant that both got tipped into relegation play-offs against Ulster opponents, with both matches having to be played away from home.
Roscommon’s task, in having to travel to the Athletic Grounds to play Armagh – in front of 200 boisterous home supporters – always looked a big ask. So it proved as the Orchard County prevailed decisively enough, that 1-17 to 0-11 result sending the Rossies spinning back down to Division Two.
Galway could and definitely should have survived but they also contrived to lose, falling to Monaghan at Clones after extra-time. Beating the Farneymen on their home patch is a difficult enough proposition but the Tribesmen, leading by five points with injury time beckoning, seemed to have done enough to seal the deal in normal time.
A calamitous final few minutes saw them concede 1-2 without reply, the final score a last-gasp point from Conor McManus to force extra-time. Then, with only seconds left before a penalty shootout to decide which of them stayed up and which went down, substitute Jack McCarron grabbed the winning score.
So Galway were sent packing to the League’s second tier as well, but no more than Roscommon, they’ve had little or no time to lick their wounds before facing into the Championship. Not that League relegation need have any material bearing on how they get on this summer – it certainly didn’t hamper us last winter.
Both counties named their teams for Sunday earlier on, details on that are here.
Galway will – as they usually are when facing Roscommon – be favourites to prevail on Sunday. But the Rossies won’t fear them, not least given that they’re at home and with around 1,000 punters allowed into Hyde Park, there should be a decent match-day atmosphere at it.
Having met in the Connacht final four years in succession up to 2019, Roscommon and Galway didn’t get the chance to lock horns last year, as we beat the former at the provincial semi-final stage and then beat the latter in the final.
Roscommon won the most recent time they met in the Championship, upsetting the Tribesmen in the 2019 Connacht final, while Galway beat them in the 2018 decider. Roscommon enjoyed a shock win over Galway in the 2017 final and Galway, after a replay, prevailed over the Sheepstealers in 2016.
Were that sequence to continue then it will be the visitors who’ll come away from Hyde Park with the win and a place in this year’s Connacht final. But, as those four Connacht final outcomes from 2016 to 2019 show, things don’t always go as expected in meetings between these two counties.
Nothing for it, then, so let’s settle it with a poll – which one of them will win on Sunday?
Who'll win on Sunday?
- Galway (63%, 224 Votes)
- Roscommon (37%, 132 Votes)
Total Voters: 356