Depleted U-21s can overcome Galway

Connacht U-21 Football Championship Quarter-Final: Roscommon v Galway at Kiltoom on Friday night, March 11, at 7.30 pm (Note: change of date from Wednesday)

Roscommon face a tough battle in the Connacht U-21 Football Championship on Friday night when they face Galway in Kiltoom.

  Under normal circumstances Roscommon would be hot favourites to advance to another semi-final in pursuit of a unique provincial three-in-a-row, but injuries to some of Roscommon’s most influential and experienced players have badly hampered Roscommon’s preparations.

  Ultan Harney is definitely out and other senior stars Sean Mullooly and Diarmuid Murtagh are just coming back from injuries and have had no game time in recent months. There are also serious injury concerns surrounding Jack Earley and John Gannon, who are also ruled out for Friday. Evan McGrath and Mark Daly are also on the doubtful list.

  It’s a huge injury list but Roscommon manager Mark Dowd is philosophical and says that he and his selectors have known about this crisis for some weeks and have prepared accordingly.

  “Naturally we would have preferred to have these lads available, but we have had to get on with it and we have plenty of other lads who have trained hard and they will get their chance to Friday night.

  “We will be facing a typical Galway team. They will be strong up the middle and they have a number of players who have senior experience, guys who we will have to watch closely. The likes of Enda Tierney, Peter Cooke, Michael Daly and Eamon Branagan have plenty of experience, so it will be a tough task for us.

  “But we have lads training for this game since last October and we are looking forward to it. The injuries mean that other lads will get a chance to step up to the mark. We are confident that we will give a very good account of ourselves.

  “A lot of people have written us off for this game but we have trained hard and we will go in looking for a win. Roscommon supporters have been brilliant in the past and I hope we have a big support on Friday night. If we are within striking distance when it comes to the last ten  minutes, we can do it,” he concluded.

   Roscommon will be depending on the likes of Ronan Daly, Davy Neary, Fergal Lennon, Tadhg O’Rourke, Cathal Compton and Henry Walsh to lead them and will also be hoping that Sean Mullooly and Diarmuid Murtagh can play some part.

  The bookies reckon that Galway can come to Kiltoom and win. It would be very foolish not to take Roscommon’s serious injury situation into account – that will seriously hamper their chances – but maybe it will engender a siege mentality that they can use in their favour. I am going to go against the tide and predict that Roscommon can edge it.

Match odds: Roscommon 11/8; Galway 8/11; 

Draw 7/1.

Prediction: Roscommon, by a point.