Kerry bring firepower to Rossies’ last chance saloon









Allianz NFL Division One (Round 7)

Roscommon v Kerry at Dr. Hyde Park, Roscommon on Sunday at 2 pm



The fact that Mayo went to Tralee last Saturday night and beat The Kingdom was a bad result for Roscommon. It means that Peter Keane’s men will need at least a draw to be certain of a league final appearance. They are sure to come with all guns blazing.

  Roscommon will take heart from the home performances so far in this campaign. Against Monaghan, Tyrone, and Dublin, Anthony Cunningham’s men were ultra-competitive and very unlucky not to have actually taken the two points against Tyrone. That late lapse against the Red Hand County could be very costly when it comes to 4 pm on Sunday evening.

  Roscommon’s form in this campaign must have the management tearing their hair out. Very competitive, hard-working and resilient in their three home matches, the team were completely out of sorts and played very poorly against Cavan and Galway and that is a big worry ahead of Sunday.

  I am not expecting many changes on the Roscommon team for Sunday although Conor Cox will need far more help up front if Roscommon are to win this game. Cathal Cregg had a good first-half last Saturday against Galway, but apart from that Cox was ploughing a lone furrow in attack and that will not be good enough to win this game.

  Against Galway Roscommon won very few breaking balls in the middle of the field. Jack Barry and Mark Griffin are the likely Kerry midfield duo on Sunday with the option of Tommy Walsh there as well and a share of the spoils possession-wise will be essential.

  Roscommon have been doing well defensively but it looks like on Sunday they will have to face new superstar Sean O’Shea, the returning James O’Donoghue, Paul Geaney and David Clifford (all likely to start) along with Stephen O’Brien and Tommy Walsh. Just to see those names in print sends shivers down the spine and make no mistake it will be a huge task for the Dalys, Davy Murray, Sean Mullooly and co. on Sunday.

  Of course Roscommon will be depending on Mayo to do them a favour and beat Monaghan in Castlebar. A week ago, I wouldn’t have held out much hope of that happening but Mayo were outstanding in Tralee and now with a place in the final up for grabs they should have the better of Malachy O’Rourke’s men at home.

  But that will be happening 60 miles away from Dr. Hyde Park and this is the last big test for the Roscommon team ahead of the championship in May and it would be a huge confidence-booster to beat the mighty Kingdom on home soil regardless of what happens elsewhere.

   At the risk of repeating myself, Division One is the only place to be playing league football and it would be a huge pity if Roscommon were relegated again having just come up last year. In this campaign we have seen some heart-warming and fiercely determined play for Roscommon especially in Dr. Hyde Park and that will be needed again on Sunday if Roscommon are to have a chance. The players will have to throw caution to the wind and get stuck in from the opening whistle. This is the last chance saloon. I hope that I am wrong but it looks like a bridge too far for Roscommon.


Prediction: Kerry