McStay: ‘We must handle being favourites’
Allianz National Football League Division One: Roscommon v Down at Dr Hyde Park on Sunday at 2 pm

Roscommon will be bidding to record a third league win on the trot when they face Down in the latest round of games on Sunday at Hyde Park.

  Following a disappointing loss to Monaghan in the opening round, Roscommon’s campaign has been transformed by sensational wins in Kerry and Cork and it will be very interesting to see if the team can follow up on the expectation generated by those two wins and especially the performance at Pairc Ui Rinn last Sunday.

  Roscommon joint manager Kevin McStay (pictured) told the Roscommon People this week that managing expectations is now a big job for the management team.

  “We have a couple of injuries after last Sunday. Niall Daly suffered a facial injury and he is very doubtful. John McManus was also injured but we are hopeful he will be okay for Sunday next.

  “Look, there is no getting away from the fact that we scored 4-25 last Sunday and it was a magnificent effort and we played some great football against Cork, but next Sunday’s game against Down will show whether we are mature as a group and to see how we react to last week’s win.

  “We have been underdogs all along until now but now we are the favourites to win on Sunday and we have to be able to handle that if we want to progress.

  “We could walk into an ambush on Sunday next and we as a management team will have a job to re-focus minds on the job in hand. If we do not perform on Sunday and are beaten all the fantastic work we did last Sunday will have been wasted.

  “This match against Down will be a totally different challenge. They have lost three games already and they really have to win this game to give them a chance of avoiding relegation. They have plenty of good footballers and if we don’t prepare correctly we will not be winning. This could be a real battle. The pitch will not be as good as the one we played on last Sunday and we have to be ready for that too.

  “But we are in a position where we want to be. People outside the county are beginning to sit up and take notice of us and we have to manage all that attention, but it’s great that we are in that position now. I can guarantee you that we will prepare right for this game. We will have two hard training sessions this week and we will make sure everyone’s feet are on the ground.

  “We are playing some lovely football and we are working hard as a group. We have had two good wins in a row so why not make it three in a row?

  “It is great that the supporters are buying into what we are doing and there are great crowds following the team. We want to see a big crowd there on Sunday to give their support to us again. It’s another big game for us and we are looking forward to it” he concluded.

  Down come to Roscommon on Sunday on the back of a bit of a trouncing against Kerry last Sunday and they have lost three in a row now. Another defeat on Sunday next will almost certainly mean relegation for them so they will fight for their lives.

  The confidence that last Sunday’s marvellous display will have given the Roscommon players will be worth its weight in gold. This could well be a dour encounter and on a very soggy and heavy Dr. Hyde Park pitch one thing is certain, no one will be scoring 4-25 this week!

  Roscommon teams have always worn the mantle of favourites very uneasily over the years – in both league and championship – but I sense something completely different under this management team and if Roscommon are to progress they will have to deal with this as they go on.

  There will not be too many changes to the Roscommon team. Niall Daly has a suspected broken nose so I presume John McManus or Ronan Stack will be called in to deputise.

  Having tipped against Roscommon in both of the last two games I am loath to give them the thumbs-up this week, but it would be a major disappointment if Roscommon were not to win this game. It might be close, but the Rossies should do it.

Match odds: Roscommon 2/7 v Down 10/3; Draw 9/1.

Prediction: Roscommon (by two points).

Note: At the time of going to press there is a doubt over the venue for Sunday’s game. Dr. Hyde Park is said to be very wet this week and may not be able to stage the game. A final decision on the venue will be taken today (Thursday, March 3rd).