Hurlers begin Rackard Cup glory bid

Roscommon’s senior hurlers take their first step on the road to possible glory this summer when they entertain Fermanagh in the first round of the Nicky Rackard Cup in Athleague this Saturday – throw-in at 3 pm.   The sides have met already this year in the National Hurling League and on that occasion Roscommon scored an easy win and while manager David McConn has injury worries as he prepares for Sunday’s game Roscommon will be expected to make a winning start in a competition which they are the favourites to win later in the summer.   However David McConn was being cautious when I spoke to him on Tuesday. ‘We will be expecting to win but we have to be careful. We beat Fermanagh easily in the league but this is championship and it’s a totally different ball game. I know for a fact that Fermanagh have been training hard and they would love to come to Athleague and create a surprise so we must be careful’ he said.     Roscommon have injury worries that have disrupted the team’s preparations. ‘We are short our regular full-back Michael Mulry and our full-forward Brendan Hanley and one of our best backs Damien Kenny, so that’s not ideal preparation. We have other long-term injuries too. But we will have to get on with it and we should still be able to field a strong team, one good enough to win this game’ he told me.   David McConn is unhappy that the players have been playing so many club championship games in recent weeks and he attributes the long injury list to all this activity. He also says that all the championship games have meant that he was not able to play preparatory challenge games.    Despite those  problems Roscommon should have enough to win this game comfortably and then they will have a bye the following weekend while Fermanagh meet Monaghan in the next round. Roscommon then meet Monaghan on Sunday 8th July in their final group game.    There are four groups of three teams in the Rackard Cup and the top two teams in each group will emerge to contest the quarter-finals, the draw for which will be made on an open-draw basis.   While David McConn and the Roscommon team are adopting the correct cautious attitude Roscommon should be able to win this game comfortably to set up a group decider with Monaghan in two weeks’ time.