Maughen’s men set sights on Leitrim

Maughen’s men set sights on Leitrim  The big games are coming thick and fast now for John Maughan’s Roscommon team as this Sunday they face their second big local derby match in a week when they take on Leitrim in Division 2A of the National Football League at Dr. Hyde Park – throw-in at 3.30 pm.   On the basis of last Sunday’s good performance against Longford (see coverage inside) there will be an expectation that Roscommon should win this game – however if the players let their guard drop or lapse into playing the kind of football that we saw in some of the previous games then Leitrim are a team that will take full advantage as they still have plenty to play for in this league.   It’s also a fact that these local derbies often take on a life of their own with the formbook going out the window as local bragging rights take centre stage.   John Maughan and his selectors will not be able to finalise a team until after the U-21 semi-final is played on Saturday evening against Sligo but the team should be along the lines of that which lined out against Longford.   This means that Geoffrey Claffey will continue as goalkeeper. Robbie Kelly should retain his place at corner-back in the absence of Sean Purcell and his good dosplay when he came on last Sunday means he certainly deserves his starting place.   Anthony McDermott and Seamie McDermott should man the other two full-back line positions.   Stuart Daly, John Nolan and Richard Dooner formed a very impressive half-back line last Sunday and they should appear there again against Leitrim.    Seamus O’Neill and Michael Finneran will be the midfield partnership again while up front Gary Cox, John Tiernan and David Hoey will be in the half-forward line with Karol Mannion, Ger Heneghan and Cathal Cregg completing the full-forward line.   Manager John Maughan says that it will be another tough game for the team. ‘We are under no illusions about this game. It will be just as tough as last Sunday’s game and there is usually nothing in these local derbies. We will have to play very well to win but I think that we can do it’ he said this week.    Leitrim have named a strong team for Sunday’s match. The very impressive John McKeon will lead the Leitrim defence from the full-back position with Barry McWeeney and Shane Foley in the half-back line.   Gary McCloskey and Michael Duignan will be the midfield partnership while up front Colin Regan, Barry Prior, Declan Maxwell and Ciaran Duignan are all excellent attackers.   Leitrim manager Dessie Dolan has done a very good job with this team and is a very popular manager especially with the Leitrim players and he will relish a clash with Roscommon and John Maughan on Sunday next.   Leitrim scored 3-15 against Carlow last Sunday so they will come to Hyde Park cock-a-hoop after that excellent display.   They will be up for Sunday’s game — make no mistake — and if Roscommon are less than 100% focussed Leitrim will take full advantage.   They have excellent attackers in Declan Maxwell and Donal Brennan and the Roscommon defence will have to perform as they did against Longford to keeps the Leitrim forwards at bay.   If Roscommon can take the improvement that they showed against Longford last Sunday into this week’s game then two more valuable points will be gained to leave one game against Offaly left in the campaign and a chance to fiill one of the two top spots and a place in the Division semi-finals.   I think that this game will be far closer than most people think but  Roscommon should be just about able to win it by a point or two.