Can we do it? YES WE CAN!

This Saturday at Croke Park, Roscommon and Armagh will do battle for a place in the All-Ireland Senior Football semi-finals.

It’s a scenario that few of us would have predicted a couple of weeks ago, but Roscommon followed up victory over Cavan with a magnificent defeat of Tyrone, and Monday’s draw has now pitted them against Kieran McGeeney’s formidable ‘Armagh army’.

As when facing Tyrone, I see no reason why Roscommon can’t go into this exciting fixture with an absolute belief that they can win the game.

Players – especially players with Division One experience and provincial medals at home – must have aspirations to actually win the Sam Maguire Cup. Surely that’s the aim in a given season? Roscommon have just won two championship games; every county in All-Ireland quarter-final action this weekend is just two games away from the final!

And while Armagh will be favourites, there’s no denying it’s a good draw for Roscommon. Both teams will feel they have a realistic chance of reaching the last four.

Why fear Tyrone? Let’s attack them’ was the headline I put on a short piece in this column last week. I genuinely felt good about our prospects in Omagh.

Yes, Tyrone have been a bogey team of Roscommon’s, and our form this season has – until recently – been uninspiring, but I felt the fixture was nicely set up for us. Roscommon were underdogs, yet kind of conversely had improved in recent weeks (versus Dublin, Mayo, and Cavan), and there was always the strong possibility that a disciplined performance in which we gave our forwards a licence to shoot could deliver a major win.

Roscommon’s 0-14 to 0-12 victory, built on the back of a magnificent first-half performance (admittedly Tyrone were uncharacteristically poor in that opening 35 minutes) is a psychologically significant result for Davy Burke’s team.

Beating an Ulster powerhouse away from home in a knockout game should give the panel a big confidence boost for this weekend, and indeed for next year and future campaigns.

Armagh are favourites to win on Saturday, and that makes sense, given overall form of late. But Roscommon should take to the field full of self-belief. This is the stage we want to be on. It’s a dream quarter-final draw too.

If, at the start of the championship, any of us were told that Roscommon would play a quarter-final this year in which we would be avoiding Dublin, Kerry, Mayo, Galway, and the resurgent Ulster duo Derry and Donegal, I think it would have been very well received (it’s the same for Armagh).

This is where our players want to be. 70 minutes from an All-Ireland semi-final. Everything to play for. If we perform, we have a real chance. Best of luck to the Roscommon players and management.