Fallon determined to defend Poc Fada title

Roscommon senior hurler Gerry Fallon will be aiming to maintain his 100% record in the M Donnelly All-Ireland Poc Fada competition, when he faces the gruelling Annaverna Mountain course in Cooley, County Louth this afternoon.

Fallon claimed the title at the first time of asking last year; denying Tipperary goalkeeper Brendan Cummins his fourth successive All-Ireland Poc Fada win.

He says that he still finds it hard to believe that he toppled the four-time All-Star.

"I never thought that I would get near him on my first attempt," said the 24-year-old.

"It was great to get past him. He's not competing there this year, but hopefully I'll give it another great shot and will be in contention again near the end.

"It took a lot of people in Roscommon a long time to get around the fact that I had beaten Brendan Cummins in a long-puck competition.

"After a while they settled down and they were all delighted!"

There was some consolation for Cummins, however, as he won last year's pairs competition along with Fallon.

Twelve months ago, the tough mountainous terrain was made even more difficult than usual, with high winds and heavy rain prevailing throughout.

Fallon is expecting similar conditions this afternoon.

"The weather conditions are nearly the exact same as they were last year. It was wet and windy and I'd say it will be the same sort of conditions again this time around."

The reigning champion has been injury free approaching this weekend's event, and although the Roscommon captain received a bye to the All-Ireland decider, courtesy of his win last year, he still took part in the Connacht event, finishing second to Galway goalkeeper James Skehill.

He believes that Skehill, who is his pairs competition partner this time around, will be hard to beat in the individual event this afternoon.

"James beat me by three pucks in the Connacht decider, it was very close on the night.

"He has a great puck of the ball and there won't be much between us on the day; and hopefully we can take the pairs competition."

Today's event marks the 50th anniversary of the first staging of the competition at the Annaverna Mountain, and Fallon agrees that this offers a real incentive to win.

"It's hard to describe what it would mean to me if I could win in such a historic year," explained the Oran clubman.

"All I can do now is go up and hope for the best, and hopefully with a bit of luck the outcome will be the same as last year."

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