Allianz NFL Division One (Round 5) Roscommon v Dublin on Sunday at Dr. Hyde Park at 2 pm
After last weekend’s nine point defeat at the hands of Cavan, being excited about the visit of All-Ireland champions Dublin to Dr. Hyde Park on Sunday next seems a little naïve but that’s the way it is for most Roscommon GAA people this week. It’s fantastic to have the All-Ireland champions in our own back yard even though it’s stretching credibility a bit too far to expect a Roscommon win.
There will be at least 10,000 people there to see Roscommon do battle with Jim Gavin’s men on Sunday. One thing is for certain, Roscommon will have to re-discover the intensity and aggression shown in their opening three games of this league campaign, because if they don’t it could be a very long day at in ‘The Hyde’.
If Dublin dominate possession then Roscommon will be in big trouble. The worry from a Roscommon point of view is that the Dubs are improving with every passing week and a lot of their star performers are on the way back. There is not much point in naming the Dublin threats because they are in every line on the field. However, Brian Fenton is now their natural leader. What a player he is. Almost every Dublin attack goes through him and he appears to have so much time on the ball.
Dublin’s options are frightening with the talent they have on the bench, never mind in the starting 15. The only chink in their armour is that their full-back line is suspect under the high ball and Kerry exploited that when they beat them in Tralee recently.
However, against Mayo last weekend the Dubs were clinical and if it were not for Mayo goalkeeper, Rob Hennelly, the Dubs could have won by 15 or 20 points. It’s clear that while Dublin have their sights firmly on the five-in-a-row later in the year, they are slowly building up a head of steam in the league. I expect them to improve again this Sunday, which is bad news for Roscommon.
From a Roscommon point of view, it would be prudent to adopt a defensive game plan. It is not easy to restrict Dublin but any team who have had even a modicum of success against them over the years will have to push up on their kick-outs and try to deny them possession.
Enda Smith and Tadgh O’Rourke will have their hands full on Sunday and Roscommon will have to flood the midfield area to try to deny the Dubs space. Roscommon have been good up front but every chance will have to be taken this Sunday as they might be few and far between.
These are the games that players love to play in. There will be a huge crowd and a great atmosphere. The Dubs will outnumber Roscommon supporters by at least two to one and they will come expecting to win. It is a marvellous opportunity for the Roscommon players to take on the All-Ireland champions at home. To test yourself you have to play against the best and that’s what the Dubs are.
I am not expecting an easy Dublin win. They will get the job done by five or six points but Roscommon will (hopefully) put in a big display. It’s the biggest occasion that we have had in Dr. Hyde Park outside of the championship for many years – I am really looking forward to it!