Hurlers face Mayo in crucial game

National Hurling League Division 2A:  Roscommon v Mayo (Saturday in  Castlebar at 2.30 pm) Seamus Duke  To say that this is a must-win game for Roscommon would be one of the understatements of the year. On the heels of three defeats, there are only two games left in the league for David McConn’s men and Saturday’s match  against Mayo in Castlebar has now taken on huge significance.   There was a time when Roscommon would always be able to beat Mayo in a competitive hurling game but Mayo have made huge strides in hurling in recent years and now they are a team that are well capable of holding their own in this division. They lost their first two games by a single point before causing one of the upsets of the league so far this year when they beat Westmeath last Sunday.   With that great win against Westmeath under their belts, Mayo will come into the game on Saturday full of confidence, which is bad news for Roscommon. Roscommon team manager David McConn has been telling me that nothing has gone right for the Roscommon team this year in the league so far.   ‘We had no luck last Sunday against Kerry. We missed a few frees and we also missed two goals in the first half and we paid dearly for those misses later in the game. It was a pity because we needed win that game badly’ he said yesterday (Wednesday).   David told People Sport that Roscommon have problems with regard to injuries and unavailability of key players for the game on Saturday. ‘We have been very unlucky again with injuries. Liam Murray and Mervyn Connaughton are both injured and doubtful for Saturday, and to make matters worse, Shane Sweeney and Mark McLoughlin are unavailable so we are up against it’ he said.   ‘However we are really looking forward to the game. There is always a great rivalry between Roscommon and Mayo and despite the few problems we have, we will be travelling with all guns blazing to Castlebar on Saturday and we are going to give this game a hell of a go. We need to win our last two league games and we will give it everything’ he concluded.   Given what David McConn has said the loss of people like Shane Sweeney, Mark McLoughlin, Liam Murray and Mervyn Connaughton would be a major blow to a team who are low on confidence after those three league defeats. In contrast Mayo are on a high after a great win against Westmeath. They are inspired by brilliant dual player Keith Higgins who scored an incredible 2-7 against Westmeath last Sunday and they will have to stop him if they want to progress. Higgins is now one of the best hurlers in the country.   I know that Roscommon have been training hard in recent weeks but they have had no luck in the league so far and if the players we mentioned above are not available, it is far too much to ask a young an inexperienced team to go to Castlebar and win against a seasoned team like Mayo.   Mayo need the points here too as they have only two on the board and they should be good enough to beat a weakened Roscommon team on their home turf. Prediction: Mayo.