Crazy triple fixture clash on Saturday robs both Leitrim GAA fans and County Board

John Connolly


John Connolly

Crazy triple fixture clash on Saturday robs both Leitrim GAA fans and County Board

Three great matches on the docket this weekend with Aughnasheelin’s Connacht Intermediate Club voyage and two exciting Dunne’s Bar Leitrim League Finals for fans to savour.

Trouble is if you want to see all three games, you’ll have to cut yourself in three with a crazy fixture schedule that sees all three games taking place on the same day and roughly the same time in the sort of fixture congestion that gives fans real headaches.

Aughnasheelin are first up on Saturday with a Connacht Intermediate Championship clash in Markievicz Park at 2pm, a game that was originally scheduled for Sunday but was moved to avoid a clash with the Sligo Senior Final.

Later that day, both Dunnes Bar Division 1 and 2 Finals are scheduled for 4.15 throw-ins in Pairc Sean Mac Diarmada and Pairc Sheain Ui Eslin.

Championship winners Mohill will be looking to complete a League and Championship double as well as a three-in-a-row against Melvin Gaels in Pairc Sean while Leitrim Gaels will hope to put their Intermediate Final disappointment behind them when they take on Ballinaglera.

To complete the weekend’s fixtures, Ballinamore Sean O’Heslin’s and Glencar/Manorhamilton do battle in the Pyramid Bookmakers Junior A Final on Sunday in Pairc Naomh Mhuire at 1 pm, the sole game on the day.

Apart from denying fans the chance to see three great games, having all three games on at roughly the same time denies the County Board and Clubs the chance to boost their coffers significantly as you have to imagine that there are plenty of fans would like to see all three games.

From the Observer’s own viewpoint, the decision to fix all three games at the same time stretches resources beyond breaking point, raising the very real possibility that one of the games will simply not be covered! Would you like to pick which one?

As it is, Aughnasheelin’s clash with St. John’s takes centre-stage, a Provincial clash that will see the winners take on Claregalway or Kilkerrin Clonberne in the semi-final. And picking a winner next Saturday is no easy task.

Aughnasheelin had a good look at St. John’s in the flesh as the Sligo Intermediate Final went to a replay before the Carraroe team overcame St. Farnan’s 1-14 to 0-12 last Sunday, recovering from a five point deficit at halftime to run out five point winners.

With former All-Star Charlie Harrison headlining the St. John’s outfit, it would be a mistake to focus on just one play with former Sligo Rovers star Alan Keane making a big impact in gaelic football while Shane Stenson, Niall Walsh and James Murphy are all quality performers.

Celebrating the 30th anniversary of their founding, St. John’s aren't your typical breakthrough team as they spent 15 years at Senior level before they were relegated just two years ago.

The big question is what is Aughnasheelin's motivation like? Are they satisfied with their Leitrim title or will they be just as fired up for their Connacht campaign? Their mix of experience and youth is potent and without the pressures of expectation, David Casey's team might well take flight against the Sligo men.

St. John's will be slight favourites but are just six days after a replay and that could play into Aughnasheelin's hands next Saturday.

The Division 1 Final is intriguing. Mohill, make no mistake, will want to retain their title and keep momentum up against of their Connacht Semi-Final clash against the Mayo champions on Saturday, November 4.

Melvin Gaels have had a long break from competitive action, their quarter-final loss to St. Mary's on September 10, so sharpness and match practice will be an issue.

The same applies in the Division 2 Final where Leitrim Gaels are just two weeks after the Intermediate Final loss while Ballinaglera have had just one League game since they exited the Intermediate championship nearly six weeks ago.

Leitrim Gaels will be well motivated to end on a high and their reserves of fitness may prove vital, although Ballinaglera are just the sort of team that can upset the odds.

The Junior A Final features the second string sides of both Glencar/Manorhamilton and Ballinamore Sean O'Heslin's and should be an interesting exercise in strength in depth. The north Leitrim men have lost both the Senior and Junior B Finals as well as the Hurling decider so will be hoping for a change of fortune.

There is no real common thread between the teams but Glencar/Manor may just have the edge and end their wait for silverware.