Hyde Park, Sunday, 17 June, 4pm
Live blog on RTÉ.ie and the RTÉ News Now App from 3.30pm.
Live and exclusive national commentary, Sunday Sport, RTÉ Radio 1.
Live coverage on The Sunday Game Live on RTÉ2 from 1.30, with commentary from Marty Morrissey and Dessie Dolan, with analysis from Colm Cooper and Colm O’Rourke.
Highlights of the game, along with all the weekend’s action, on The Sunday Game, RTÉ 2, from 9.30pm.
Past 5 Championship Meetings
2017 Roscommon 2-15 Galway 0-12 (Connacht final)
2016 Galway 3-16 Roscommon 0-14 (Connacht Final) Replay
2016 Galway 0-13 Roscommon 1-10 (Connacht final) Draw
2015 Galway 3-15 Roscommon 0-10 (Connacht quarter-final)
2008 Galway 2-16 Roscommon 0-6 (Connacht quarter-final)
Two teams in a happy place? I think that would be fair to say ahead of their latest battle for the Nestor Cup. A keen rivalry has built up since 2016, with both tasting provincial glory and both impressing in their respective successes. Of course, there was the drawn encounter two years ago in Salthill on a day the sky was nearly on the ground, suffocating any hope of decent football.
And so this latest renewal. Roscommon, on the back of an instant return to Division 1, had little difficulty in accounting for Leitrim in the semi-final.
Galway’s march to the Division 1 final signaled their intent to rise a few more places up the pecking order in 2018. They matched Dublin most of the way in that Easter Sunday decider.
And then to the match most were anticipating as the summer fare commenced. In MacHale Park on 13 May, Mayo and Galway played out a Connacht opener that did not satisfy the purists.
A rare moment of excellence at the death saw the Maroon and White prise open Mayo’s defence with a neat attacking move and substitute Seán Kelly set Johnny Heaney up for an emphatic close-range finish that found the roof of the net.
It was the defining score as Galway recorded a notable three-in-a-row. Sligo were duly dispatched in the semi-final, with Kevin Walsh’s men going for the jugular right from the off.
This final sees two sides that it’s fair to say have not yet reached their peak. Roscommon’s march to the All-Ireland series in 2017 was another indicator of their rise under Kevin McStay and their promotion in the spring, after a few narrow narrow victories, underlined a growing maturity.
The squad, while missing the influential Seán Mullooly, can take much heart from Peter Domican’s return in defence.
The Rossies did well to curb Galway’s attacking threat at this stage last summer and so Domican and the likes of John McManus and Fintan Cregg will have to be well primed to stifle a a forward division that’s even more formidable now.
That said, Roscommon will have worked on getting the most out of their 10-15 lines against a Galway rearguard that boasts a more tougher complexion than 12 months ago.
In his column on these pages, Philip Jordan feels Galway aren’t yet at the level to claim All-Ireland glory, but adds that they need to win Sunday’s game by four or five points to show that they are moving further in the right direction.
Their new-found defensive solidity is underlined by the concession of only two goals in all their competitive games to date in 2018.
Did You Know
This is the first time since 1976-1977-78 that Galway and Roscommon have met in three successive Connacht finals.
Roscommon’s last Connacht final win in Dr. Hyde Park was in 2001 when they beat Mayo by 2-10 to 1-12.
Galway’s last Connacht final win in Dr. Hyde Park was in 1998 when they beat Roscommon in a replay (extra-time) by 1-17 to 0-17.
GAANOW Rewind takes a look back to the 1998 @ConnachtGAA Football Final Replay of @GalwayGAA v @RoscommonGAA! Tied 0-11; 0-11 after normal time – a Tribesmen goal in extra time from Michael Donnellan earned them the victory with a final score of 1-17 to 0-17! pic.twitter.com/iD6md8AVZX
— The GAA (@officialgaa) June 12, 2018
The winners will qualify for the All-Ireland quarter-finals where they will be in a group with the Munster champions (Cork or Kerry), Ulster runners-up (Fermanagh or Donegal) or Round 4 winner and Leinster runners-up (Dublin or Laois) or Round 4 winner.
The Hyde is ready
After much debate, the Connacht Council has agreed to allow Dr Hyde Park to host Sunday’s final.
The venue was due to host the showpiece but there were concerns – mainly around ticket-scanning and exiting – that the venue would not be deemed suitable.
Now, a compromise has been reached that will sees the Rossies have home venue in a provincial final for the first time since 2011.
The conditions in place are:
- Confining the capacity to 18,870 (the game is a sell-out)
- No tickets being available for sale on the day
- Roscommon covering the cost of a temporary scanning system
- CCTV being in place
Speaking to RTÉ Sport, Pat Tully: Event Controller at Hyde Park said: “The Connacht Council were looking for a capacity of 25,000. The Roscommon board felt we wouldn’t need that capacity for a Connacht final. A lot of negotiation and planning took place and a resolution was arived at where the capacity would be 18,700. All items are in place for that crowd.
“All ticketing and exiting from the venue will be carried out in line with health and safety regulations.
“It’s a positive day for Roscommon and indeed the town of Roscommon in terms of hosting the Connacht final.”
Roscommon: Colm Lavin; David Murray, Peter Domican, Niall McInerney; John McManus, Fintan Cregg, Brian Stack; Cathal Compton, Tadhg O’Rourke; Ciaráin Murtagh, Enda Smith, Conor Devaney; Donie Smith, Diarmuid Murtagh, Niall Kilroy
Sunday will start off dry in the east with some bright or sunny spells. Outbreaks of rain will develop in the west and spread eastwards. Amounts will be small. Highest temperatures of 15 to 19 degrees with moderate to fresh southerly winds, later becoming southwesterly. For more go to met.ie.