We’re down in Mayo for the holiday weekend – with the countryside still cloaked in those dun coloured hues you’d expect to see in January – where, for a change, there’s little in the way of football to talk about. Some weeks back, I was thinking about how nice and handy it was that the Connacht U21 final was fixed for this weekend and so how easy it would be for me to get to it seeing as I’d already have arrived in the county the day beforehand for the Easter hols. But that was before we’d come a cropper to the Rossies in the semi-final on Paddy’s Day and so instead of heading off to the U21 Connacht final this evening, I ended up with the wife and chisellers at Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang in Castlebar.
The film was entertaining enough and so too, from what I can gauge, was the U21 Connacht decider down at Markievicz Park, where Roscommon finally saw off Sligo on a scoreline of 1-6 to 0-4 (report from Hogan Stand here). The Rossies were obviously favourites to win but the home side – bidding for their first ever provincial title at this level – fairly put it up to them and it took a goal late on from sub Alan O’Hara (who’d been very harshly sent off in the semi-final against our lads) to clinch the provincial crown for the Sheepstealers.
It’s the Rossies’ first Connacht U21 title since 1999 and they’ll now face the winners of tomorrow’s Leinster final, between Dublin and Westmeath, in the All-Ireland semi-final in a few weeks time. With Tipp having come through from Munster and Ulster now a straight shootout between Donegal and Cavan, the Rossies shouldn’t fear anyone that’s left in this contest. At the start of this year, I was of the firm belief that an All-Ireland title was a realistic target for our U21s and there’s certainly no reason now why it shouldn’t be for the lads that knocked those particular hopes squarely on the head.