Captain Marvel’s absence a huge blow to Rossies

Christy Ring Cup 1st Round: Roscommon v Derry on Saturday in Athleague at 3.30 pm
Kelly a major loss for hurlers

Roscommon senior hurlers play their most important match in a number of years on Saturday when they face Derry in the Christy Ring Cup in Athleague.

  It’s a reward for Roscommon who not alone won the Rackard Cup last year but also recently secured promotion in the league, defeating Donegal in dramatic fashion in a play-off.

  However Roscommon’s hopes of victory have been hit by a severe blow with news that inspirational captain and talisman Micheal Kelly is very unlikely to play after he sustained shoulder ligament injuries in a challenge game against Mayo last Wednesday week. If the captain is missing, then Roscommon’s task will be bordering on the impossible.

  Roscommon manager Justin Campbell confirmed the news to The Roscommon People this week.

  “Micheal Kelly is very unlikely to play. He hurt his shoulder in a challenge game against Mayo last week and we are hoping that he might be able to play in round two, the following week. As you well know he would be a huge loss to us. But look, we will have to get on with it. Injuries are all part of the game.”

  If, as looks certain, Micheal Kelly doesn’t  feature, Roscommon will have to rejig their defence. Noel Fallon has been doing well in goal and in front of him Ian Delaney, Peter Kellehan and Ciaran Shaw look most likely to be playing in the full-back line. In the half-back line Shane Curley will have a conflict of interest as his minor camogie team play in an All-Ireland final on Saturday, so he might not be there. Warren Boyle, Liam Kilcline and Tomas Seale are also half-back options.

  Alan Moore and Cathal Dolan could well be the midfield partnership. In attack, Jason Kilkenny, Eamon Flanagan and Jerry Fallon look odds-on to feature in the half-forward line, while in the full-forward line Cillian Egan, Ronan O’Meara and Adrian Murphy will get the nod as that line contributed 3-5 from play in the win against Donegal.

  Derry are managed by Tom McClean. Derry were relegated to Division 2B of the league (the same division Roscommon will play in next year). McClean has been telling the Derry GAA website that even though his side were relegated in the league, they were unlucky to have made the drop.

  “You have to remember the make-up of the squad this year compared to last,” explained McLean. “We have an excellent squad of lads there, of which eleven of them are U-21. We can’t forget that. Most of our games, with the exception of the Carlow one, were very close and could have gone either way. So, we have been competitive all year but just haven’t got the points which we needed to preserve our position.”

  For Derry, injury doubts remain over Paddy Kelly and Darragh McCloskey, whilst Eoghan Rua’s Anton Rafferty is ruled out through suspension. However, McLean is undeterred.

  “We will prepare well and are looking forward to it. It’s a very different competition from the league, conditions are usually much firmer and the hurling gets faster. It’s a challenge we’re looking forward to,” he concluded.

  Roscommon have earned their place in the Christy Ring competition but this was going to be a tough enough game even with Micheal Kelly playing. He is such an inspirational presence it will be hard to replace him. Hopefully Roscommon hurling will find a new hero on Saturday, but a win is probably too much to hope for. Prediction: Derry