Connacht SFC semi-final: Sligo v Roscommon on Saturday in Markievicz Park at 5 pm
Roscommon senior footballers travel to Sligo this Saturday as hot favourites to win a place in the May 29th Connacht Final decider against either Leitrim or Galway.
In the long history of Roscommon football the mantle of being favourites has never rested easily on the shoulders of the primrose and blue, but that’s what they will have to deal with going into this match on Saturday.
Most of the form guides and any assessment of statistics will point to the likelihood of a Roscommon win. Unbeaten in the league, and with an impressive Division Two final win against Galway in Croke Park behind them, Anthony Cunningham’s men have been going very well and have played some tremendous football so far in 2022.
Sligo, under Tony McEntee, have improved this year, although they failed to gain promotion from Division Four, missing out by a point after winning five games and losing two.
Sligo do have the advantage of having a championship game under their belts as they were given a very tough test by New York two weeks ago before emerging victorious by four points (1-16 to 0-15).
Roscommon will have to concentrate their minds on this game – and this game only – and not let their focus wander to possible final dates in Salthill or anywhere else. But the reality is that if Roscommon apply themselves correctly they should win this semi-final with a bit to spare.
There are very few injuries in the Roscommon squad (except in the case of Richard Hughes) and the return of the Murtagh brothers and the Pearses players to full fitness has given the squad a further boost over the past while. The fact that Roscommon have had a settled midfield this year with Ultan Harney and Eddie Nolan doing well in that sector has also improved the team.
It is up front where Roscommon have really been shining this year. The Roscommon attacking stats compare favourably with those of any team in the country, with very few wides being kicked and Cunningham’s forward division arguably one of the best around.
Sligo’s dramatic win against Mayo in the U-20 Connacht final last week has given the county a boost, although a dark cloud remains following the tragic passing of the very talented young player, Red Óg Murphy.
Roscommon have been playing at a much higher level than Sligo and have answered almost every question posed to them so far in 2022. Championship football is more intense and less forgiving than the league, but Roscommon have been improving as the year has gone on and the decision to adopt a more attacking style of play has been paying dividends. Preparations for the championship have gone well and the word from recent challenge games has been very positive.
I’d expect Sligo to give Roscommon plenty to think about. This could be a much closer game that many are expecting. But in the end, the likes of Enda and Donie Smith, Cathal Heneghan, Conor Cox and Diarmuid and Ciarain Murtagh will make the difference. Roscommon to win by four or five points.