If we thought we were the only county in Connacht that’s “in transition”, we can think again. Liam Sammon has just handed debuts to five players in the team named for their opening Connacht championship clash on Sunday, where the Herrin Chokers face Roscommon in Pearse Stadium. Goalkeeper Paul Doherty, corner-back Gareth Bradshaw, midfielder Mark Lydon and half-forwards Damien Dunleavy and Paul Conroy will all make their first starts in this Connacht championship preliminary round clash. While Sammon’s hand was, to some degree, forced by the injuries to experienced performers such as Damien Burke, Joe Bergin and Sean Armstrong, he has also shown a considerable lack of caution by pitching in the likes of Conroy, last year’s All-Ireland minor captain, for his first senior championship start in the maroon and white.
Damien Dunleavy and Fiachra Breathnach, who both impressed during the league (both played really well against us in last month’s league match at wintry McHale Park), also get the nod, the latter ahead of the more naturally talented but perhaps less hard-working Nicky Joyce, a development that has set the Galway tongues wagging on gaaboard.com. However, another strong league performer – half-back Darren Mullahy (another one who shone against us in that league match) – loses out to Declan Meehan with the latter having spent the NFL in the half-forwards but has now been restored to the half-back line.
The team is captained by PJ who lines out at centre-forward with Michael Meehan at full-forward. On balance, it looks a strong side and, with home advantage in that godawful windswept pitch of theirs and with the Rossies as disorganised as the health service at the minute, a home win looks a banker on Sunday. It’s one of the live matches on RTE, by the way.