Cunningham era begins with visit of Sligo



FBD League Semi-Final

Roscommon v Sligo on Sunday at Dr. Hyde Park at 1.30 pm



The cobwebs will be blown away on Sunday when Roscommon open a new chapter in their history with a home tie against Sligo in a match that should draw a good crowd to Dr. Hyde Park for a number of reasons.

  Firstly, the Anthony Cunningham era begins and the proposed new rules will get an airing too. There will be huge interest in what team Roscommon field on the day. With the big league opener against Mayo less than two weeks away, Roscommon fans will be looking for signs about the potential line-up for MacHale Park.

  There will certainly be new faces on the Roscommon team not least because there are a number of players who will be absent because of retirement, injury or because they have taken the decision not to commit for the moment. Those names include Seanie McDermott, Ian Kilbride, Fintan Cregg, Ciaráin Murtagh, Diarmuid Murtagh, Cathal Compton, John McManus and Niall McInerney.

  To lose so many players in one go is a setback for sure, but the players who are on the panel have been working very hard and the word is that the hard work on the training ground has been excellent so far under coaches Iain Daly and Mark Dowd.

  It’s not all bad news; Sean Mullooly is back which is very welcome and there will be great anticipation in how Kerry recruit Conor Cox does in attack. I presume that the Smiths, Dalys, Tadgh O’Rourke and Cathal Cregg will be back to add to the new recruits who have joined the panel.

  Next week I will be making a special appeal to Roscommon supporters to have patience with the management and team as a very tough year comes up, but this Sunday Roscommon have a chance to open their competitive season with a win. In addition it will be very interesting indeed to see what style of play is adopted by the new management.

  Sligo legend Paul Taylor has taken over the Yeats County and there will be added interest in how they have wintered ahead of the league campaign. They will certainly harbour ambitions of being in the promotion race from Division Three of the league. They would love to start with a win against Roscommon.

  Speaking at the weekend, Anthony Cunningham said that Roscommon will have to be on their toes.

  “Sligo are under a new manager and they will be gunning for Roscommon on Sunday but it will be a learning experience for us and that is the big aspect of it,” he said.

  Sligo will take heart from the display of Leitrim against Mayo last Sunday and Roscommon will have to play well to win. It will be fascinating to see what the Roscommon line-up, set-up and style of play is. A new era begins!

Prediction: Roscommon