Allianz National Football League Division One (Round 7): Roscommon v Cavan at Dr. Hyde Park on Sunday at 2 pm
Roscommon have one last chance to garner a couple of league points when they face a resurgent Cavan side in the final round of matches at Dr. Hyde Park on Sunday. When the fixtures for this division of the league became known this was one game that Roscommon would have earmarked for two points. But as we all know now a lot of water has flowed under the bridge since then.
Roscommon’s league campaign had been poor enough until we ran into the Dublin juggernaut last weekend and that huge defeat has left many people disillusioned and bewildered. Kevin McStay’s men now face a Cavan side who have to win on Sunday if they are to have any chance of avoiding relegation. If Cavan win they will be depending on Donegal to beat Mayo in Castlebar and if that happens Mayo will go down and Cavan will stay up.
On the basis of what has happened in the league so far, it is very hard to see Roscommon winning this game against a Cavan side who have improved dramatically in recent weeks after a disastrous start to the campaign. Cavan have drawn with Monaghan and Kerry and they went to Castlebar and beat Mayo; results that didn’t seem possible after the start that they made and they will come to Dr Hyde Park in a confident mood.
Roscommon on the other hand, will try to recover from the Croke Park mauling at the hands of a rampant Dubs. The 21 point loss is tough on players and management and it will be a monumental task to lift the players for one more push before this league campaign is over.
But there are a few glimmers of hope. Roscommon’s kick-outs have improved immeasurably and even in Croke Park last Saturday most of Darren O’Malley’s kicks found their target. Roscommon are also creating goal chances and the attack is performing well with very limited possession, with the Smith brothers, Conor Devaney and the Murtaghs showing glimpses of what they can do.
But Roscommon’s problems have been further out the field where physicality and tackling power has been absent. Cavan will not present anything like the awesome power that Dublin did but they still have classy performers who can mix it wtih the best.
Gearoid McKiernan is their stand-out performer and Roscommon will have to try to curb his influence at midfield. But Cavan have Killian Clarke at full-back with the very impressive Conor Moynagh filling the number six jersey. Dara McVeety is one of the most improved players in the country up front and with subs like Cian Mackey and Seanie Johnston to call on, manager Mattie McGleenan will hope that he has enough firepower to win the important match-ups on Sunday.
Even though Roscommon are relegated, a win would be a massive boost to the game in the county; to the players, management and fans, and it would also lessen the criticism and negativity that has been growing in recent weeks and months. Roscommon have a great record against Cavan over the past few years and I know from speaking to many Cavan fans that they are treating this trip to Roscommon with the utmost caution. It is a fact that a number of times in recent years Cavan have been favourites to beat Roscommon only to suffer defeat. Let’s hope that trend can continue on Sunday
I just hope that Roscommon produce a performance because the last thing that we need is another heavy defeat. It will be hard to banish the memories of Croke Park in the space of just a week. But Cavan travel desperately seeking a win and unless they suffer a collapse of form they should be able to take the points they need. However, it is unlikely that Donegal will win in Castlebar so a win for the Breffni men might be in vain. It’s all to play for though.
Roscommon fans will be desperately looking for some rays of hope as this very disappointing league campaign comes to a close. Cavan supporters will come in their thousands and there will be a great atmosphere. I hope Roscommon come in numbers too. They have not had a lot to shout about so far this year. Hopefully that will change on Sunday but it is hard not to fancy Cavan to win.
Match odds: Roscommon 7/4 Cavan 4/7 Draw 15/2