Minors won’t fear Kerry – and will relish the challenge

All-Ireland MFC quarter-final:
Roscommon v Kerry at Cusack Park, Ennis on Saturday at 6.30 pm

Roscommon minor manager James Duignan (left) says his team are relishing the opportunity to face Kerry on Saturday in the All-Ireland Minor Football quarter-final. Pic: Bernie O’Farrell

Memories of one of the greatest days in Roscommon’s recent football history will be revived this Saturday when James Duignan’s present-day minor football team face Kerry in Cusack Park in Ennis, the scene of that never-to-be-forgotten All-Ireland minor final replay win by Roscommon in 2006.

While Kerry will start this weekend’s game as the deserved favourites, Roscommon are certainly not without a chance in this very intriguing quarter-final.

Roscommon will have almost a full panel to pick from, although Sean McDonnell – who has been injured all year – is unlikely to make the match-day 24 in Ennis.

Since their opening day loss to Mayo in the Connacht Championship Roscommon have improved in every game and that includes that defeat against Mayo in the Connacht final when a few late mistakes cost them dearly. They played very well against a Mayo side who are favourites to win this year’s All-Ireland, pushing their fellow westerners all the way.

Players like Gordon Casey, Eoin Collins, Dara Curran, Stephen Tighe and Shea McGuinness have been outstanding for Roscommon in the championship so far and they will hopefully be very influential again this weekend.

Kerry swept to another Munster title with a 2-18 to 1-6 win against Cork. They have some outstanding performers, not least wing half-forward Gearoid White who scored 0-8 in that provincial final (with 0-6 from play). Others to watch out for on the Kerry side are Gavin O’Keeffe, Ronan Carroll, Ben Murphy and Joey McCarthy.

Roscommon will have to produce their best performance of the year if they are to win this quarter-final but there is something special about this team, one that’s definitely improving with every outing. I won’t be a bit surprised if Roscommon produce a shock here but the smart money must be on Kerry.

Prediction: Kerry.

Note: Mayo will play Munster runners-up Cork in the opening game in Ennis on Saturday at 4.30 pm.