GAA Connacht Gold Senior Championship preview

The Clubs have their say on the Connacht Leitrim Senior Championship

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The Clubs have their say on the Connacht Leitrim Senior Championship

James Rooney and Alan McLoughlin clash for the ball in last year's Senior Championship Final. Photo by Willie Donnellan

As part of our preview for the Leitrim Club Championships this year, we decided to touch base with the clubs taking part in the Connacht Gold Senior and Smith Monumentals Intermediate Championship.

We contacted the Club’s PROs and asked them to come back with the answers to a few simple questions such as who is their manager, captain and who they have gained or lost from their panels.

We also asked them what the biggest challenge facing their club was, one way to improve the Leitrim Club Championship and, if they were not to pick themselves, who their pick for the title would be!

The answers are interesting and judging from the responses, Glencar/Manorhamilton seem to be the overwhelming favourite with eight respondents picking them and another two having them joint favourites.

And finally, thanks to all the clubs and PROs who responded to our request.

 ALLEN GAELS

Manager: Sean Pierson

Captain: James Flynn

New additions: Cian Beirne, Damian McLoughlin

Departures/Losses: Brian Mulvey, Neil Nolan

Biggest challenge facing your club in this year’s Championship: Making the step up from Division 2 to senior championship

One way to improve the Leitrim Club Championships: Reduce the number of teams

Tip for the title: Glencar Manorhamilton

 AUGHAWILLAN

Manager: Tommy McCormack

Captain: Sean Quinn

New additions: Conor McGovern, Daire Maxwell, Kevin Prior, Michael O'Haire, Michael McTague & Darren Prior

Departures/Losses: Sean Fox (Long term injury) & Ciaran Gilheany (Travelling)

Biggest challenge facing your club in this year’s Championship: Keeping injuries to a minimum

One way to improve the Leitrim Club Championships: None

Tip for the title: Glencar Manorhamilton

 AUGHNASHEELIN

Manager: David Casey

Captain: Barry McWeeney

New additions: Ciaran Cullen, Aaron Hoare, Damien Gilheaney, Cathal Egan

Departures/Losses: Keith Sammon, Martin McHugh, Michael Domican, Ciaran McGirl, Niall Mulvanerty

Biggest challenge facing your club in this year’s Championship: Making the Quarter-Finals

One way to improve the Leitrim Club Championships: Revert back to knockout competition

Tip for the title: Glencar/Manorhamilton

 BALLINAMORE SEAN O'HESLIN'S

Manager: Paul Prior

Captain: Liam Ferguson

New additions: Matthew Morris, Cathal McHugh, Jack Gallogly, Daire Gleeson

Departures/Losses: No answer

One way to improve the Leitrim Club Championships: Less teams.

Tip for the title: Mohill

 BORNACOOLA

Manager: Morgan Shanley

Captain: Sean McKeon

New additions: Cian Mallon, Colm Farrell, Luke Jones, Marc McKeon

Departures/Losses to the panel: Shane Conroy, Gerry Gearty

Biggest challenge facing your club in this year’s Championship: Impact of Injuries on a small panel

One way to improve the Leitrim Club Championships: Happy with Championship structure as is

Tip for the title: Glencar/Manorhamilton

ST. PATRICK'S DROMAHAIR

Manager: Hughie Clinton

Captain: Declan Fowley

New additions: Mark McGee, Niall Clinton, Cian Forde.

Departures/Losses: Numerous departures due to retirement and emigration.

Biggest challenge facing your club in this year’s Championship: To retain senior status we will need to avoid injury as we have a small panel.

One way to improve the Leitrim Club Championships: Possibly change format to two groups of four. Too many games for teams with smaller panels in current format.

Tip for the title: Difficult to see past Mohill and Glencar/Manor.

 DRUMREILLY

Manager: Brian Whitney

Captain: Francis Holohan

New additions: Dylan Maguire, Manus Connolly, Stephen Meissner and Hughie Maguire

Departures/Losses: Sean Fee went to Canada

Biggest challenge facing your club in this year’s Championship: Trying to get the upper hand with our local derby games against Aughawillan and Ballinamore and of course trying to maintain senior Championship status again for next year.

One way to improve the Leitrim Club Championships: We are happy enough with the current structure

Tip for the title: Glencar Manorhamilton

 GLENCAR/MANORHAMILTON

Manager: Kieran Fox and Shane Ward

Captain: Adrian Croal and Brian McDonald

New additions: Seamus Ryder

Departures/Losses: Paddy Maguire

Biggest challenge facing your club in this year’s Championship: Managing the squad through the busy schedule of games

One way to improve the Leitrim Club Championships: Change format to Champions League as below: The Senior, Intermediate & Junior Championship should be ran on a league basis up to quarter final stage and knock out thereafter. Rounds 1-4: Six group games, open draw every week; Rd 5: Quarter Finals – Top eight teams based on League Table: 1 v 8, 2 v 7, 3 v 6, 4 v 5; Rd 6: Semi Finals: Open Draw; Rd 7: Final

Relegation: Bottom four teams playoff in relegation semis as follows – 9 v 12, 10 v 11 - losing teams play the relation final and loser relegated. Same format applied to Intermediate & Junior – Champions promoted and one team relegated. 

Each team guaranteed 4 games; Open draw every week to add to intrigue, obviously can’t play same team twice; Could reduce players going away, don’t know week to week who playing, all games crucial to every team, should increase attendances at games.

Tip for the title: Mohill

 GORTLETTERAGH

Manager: Liam Higgins

Captain: Gerard Campbell

New additions to the panel: None

Departures/Losses to the panel: None

Biggest challenge facing your club in this year’s Championship: Getting through a tough five round group stage, tough on clubs with small panels.

One way to improve the Leitrim Club Championships: Maybe have a few home games, not all in neutral venues.

Tip for the title: Glencar/Manorhamilton, form team in the League.

 MOHILL

Manager: Sean Kennedy

Captain: Danny Beck

New additions: We were so delighted to see the progress young Jordan Reynolds was making, unfortunately Jordan sustained a double arm fracture recently so he’ll be out for six to eight weeks. Johnny Boyle, Peter O’Neill, Jordan McGuinness Tadhg Mulligan are young hopefuls and of course the Harkin brothers.

Departures/Losses: Ronan Gallagher and Darren McLoughlin

Biggest challenge facing your club in this year’s Championship: Biggest challenge is retaining the League and Championship

One way to improve the Leitrim Club Championships: No suggestions on how to improve the Championship.

Tip for the title: Manor always the threat.

 MELVIN GAELS

Manager: Billy Gavigan

Captain: Colm McGowan

New additions: Jack Roynane, Rhys Brennan.

Departures/Losses: Liam Ryan, Conor Sheridan.

Biggest challenge facing your club in this year’s Championship: Trying to get all the panel fit and available for all the games.

One way to improve the Leitrim Club Championships: The number of Round games in the present format of the Senior Championship need to be reduced. Two groups of six means five games before Quarter Final. Club Championships in other counties needs to be looked at, to see what works best.

Tip for the title: Glencar/Manorhamilton

 ST. MARY'S KILTOGHERT

Manager: Ciaran Reynolds & Thomas Crowe

Captain: James Glancy, Vice Captain: Nicholas McWeeney

New additions: Mark Diffley, Fintan Earley, Robbie O’Donnell, Jack Matthews, Jack Barnes & Joe Kyle

Departures/Losses: Ruairi McLoughlin, Barry Butler, Clement Cunniffe & James McGrail

Biggest challenge facing your club in this year’s Championship: Progress in championship with minimal amount of injuries to players

One way to improve the Leitrim Club Championships: Perhaps the older format of 3 groups of 4 teams was a better system as every game in the group is a competitive one. The newer format of 2 groups of 6 can result is dead rubber games if teams are already through which isn’t good for the competition.

Tip for the title: Hard to look past last year’s semi-finalists – Mohill / Manorhamilton / Ballinamore. Aughawillan will also be in the mix.