Hurlers on a high – but facing Antrim is ‘Mission impossible!’

Christy Ring Cup (Round 2): Antrim v Roscommon on Saturday at Pearse Park, Dunloy at 3.30 pm

Roscommon face a momentous task in Dunloy on Sunday when they face Antrim in round two of the Christy Ring Cup. Following their fantastic and unexpected win against Derry last weekend Roscommon were handed the toughest possible draw as Antrim attempt to recover past glories by wining the Christy Ring Cup after their demotion from the McCarthy Cup ranks last year.

  Roscommon manager Justin Campbell agrees that this draw hands Roscommon an almost impossible task.

  “It’s unfair really, because Antrim should not be in this competition. They are 10 or 15 points a better side than anyone else in the Christy Ring competition and for us to go to Dunloy is an even tougher prospect. But we will go up there and give it a go. We have nothing to lose.

  “The lads were magnificent against Derry. I was so proud of the way they played. The display last week is as a result of two or three years’ hard work that they have put in and the people of Roscommon should be very proud of those players. It is a pleasure to work with them and whatever happens on Saturday we will be in the Christy Ring Cup again next year now.

  “We are going to Dunloy on Saturday with the pressure completely off and we intend to give it a go and keep it respectable. But it is a huge task and we will be up against it for sure,” he concluded.

  Roscommon will have Shane Curley back after managing the minor camogie team last Saturday while Micheal Kelly will once line out at centre-half back after his shoulder injury.

  Noel Fallon will continue in goals, while in front of him Ian Delaney, Peter Kellehan and Liam Kilcline have been outstanding this year with Ciaran Shaw also in contention for a starting spot in defence. Justin Campbell has options at midfield, although Eamon Flanagan and Cathal Dolan did well there against Derry.

  Thomas Fetherston made a welcome return to the team last Saturday. He played really well at centre-forward and the free-taking of Jerry Fallon is crucial to Roscommon’s chances. Cillian Egan, Ronan O’Meara and Adrian Murphy have all been playing well, while Naos Connaughton and Jamie Lawlor will be pressing hard for inclusion in the starting 15.

  Antrim have slipped down the pecking order slightly in the past couple of years but they still boast of some class operators, not least the prolific Ciaran Clark, who scored 2-10 in last weekend’s demolition of Kildare at Parnell Park. Tony McCloskey, Ryan McCambridge, Neil McAuley, Conor McKinley, Conor Carson and Sean McAfee are superb players who have played at the top in club and inter-county fare over recent years.

  It’s a massive task for Roscommon but they can go to Dunloy in the knowledge that they will be playing Christy Ring Cup hurling in 2017 – and in a higher league division too. They can give this game a real go and see what happens but it would be far too much to expect them to win it.

Prediction: Antrim.