Crucial game hurlers

National Hurling League  Roscommon v Kerry (Sunday at 2.30 pm in Athleague) Seamus Duke  It would be fair to say that this third round NHL Division 2A game is a ‘must win’ game for Roscommon’s hurlers when they take the field againt Kerry in Athleague on Sunday next. Roscommon probably could have beaten Kildare in their first game in Athleague in round one however Westmeath, who are the best team in this division by far, were far too strong for Roscommon in round two in Mullingar two weeks ago. To win against Kerry on Sunday next will however be a tall order for David Mc Conn’s team.   Training is going well for Roscommon but despite the fact that there are players like Michael Kelly and Tommy Reddington returning to the panel, a lot of the players are carrying injuries at the moment.   Speaking to People Sport on Wednesday, Roscommon selector Kieran Connell said that the Roscommon team will not be finalised until Sunday morning. ‘We will be meeting to sort out some sort of a team after training on Thursday night but we will not know exactly how we are fixed until Sunday’ he said.   ‘We have a lot of  players carrying niggly injuries at present and then we have others who are more seriously injured. David Connell is out again so we expect that Padraig Dolan of Padraig Pearses will continue in goal. However there are other players carrying minor injuries like Mervyn Connaughton, Liam Casey, Gerry Fallon, Cathal Kelly and Michael Kelly so we will have to wait and see’ he said.   Kieran agrees that this game against Kerry is crucial to Roscommon’s survival chances. ‘At the start of the campaign we targetted winning our home games so we were disappointed to have lost against Kildare so it’s vital we win this game on Sunday’ he said.   However Kieran is not underestimating the challenge of Kerry. ‘They won against Wicklow very easily while they went down by just three points to Westmeath so we are expecting them to be travelling here in very strong shape. It will be a very tough test for us but I know that we will be up for the game and the lads are really looking forward to it’ he concluded.    Roscommon will be hoping that most of the experienced players like David Loughnane, Liam Murray, Gerry Fallon, Mervyn Connaughton, Michael Kelly, Shane Sweeney and Liam Casey are all availabe to play and that those injuries clear up because Roscommon will need all their firepower on Sunday.   Kerry are managed by former Limerick player Pat Heffernan and they have some excellent players. Their talisman and top scorer is Shane Brick who was missing with the flu in the last round and Roscommon will have to mark him tightly on Sunday.   Other Kerry players to watch out for are Gary O’Brien, John Mike Dooley and  Mike Qualter. Kerry have one win (against Wicklow) when they scored four goals, and a loss (against Westmeath) behind then so they will be travelling to Athleague expecting to win this game.   This will be a very difficult game for Roscommon but it’s a game that they can (and must) win. I am convinced that Roscommon have not shown what they can do so far this season and and if they can play to their potential on Sunday they can win this fixture.  Prediction: Roscommon, narrowly.