O’Halloran’s ‘underdogs’ away to Mayo in NHL opener

Allianz National Hurling League Division 3A: Mayo v Roscommon on Saturday at Hastings Insurance MacHale Park, Castlebar at 2 pm

Cathal Dolan will be among the absentees as Roscommon hurlers embark on their 2023 NHL campaign this weekend in Castlebar. Pic: Bernie O’Farrell

Roscommon hurlers face what is probably their toughest test in the league on Saturday as they begin their new campaign with a visit to take on Mayo, considered by many as the strongest team in Division 3A.

The visitors will be underdogs for this match with a young team setting out on what will be a very interesting year for the team.

Roscommon manager Francis O’Halloran told the Roscommon People this week that there will be a few notable absentees from the Roscommon panel for this league opener.

“Daniel Glynn has transferred from Pádraig Pearses to Ballyboden St Enda’s and will not be with the panel in the short term but the door is open to him to return later in the year. Cathal Dolan won’t be involved and neither will Padraig Kelly and unfortunately team captain Peter Kellehan is out with an injury so we are working with a small panel,” he said.

Eight-time All-Ireland winner Richie Power has been with the panel a couple of times as an advisor and his input has been praised by the Roscommon manager.

“There was great buy-in from the lads and it is invaluable to have a guy like him involved. He has been there and done that, and the players have great respect for him,” the manager said.

Looking ahead to Saturday, Francis says Mayo will provide a huge challenge.

“Mayo would probably be looked upon as the best team in this division and they will have all their Tooreen players back so they will have a very strong team out. Our side is very young – our average age is only about 21 – so we will be going into this campaign short on experience but it is great for the younger players”.

“We will be underdogs but that’s a good position to be in and we will give it our best shot on the day,” he concluded.

To be taking the field for such a tough game without so many experienced players will be a tough ask for Roscommon but a younger panel could be the way to go for the future. Having said that, it would be a surprise if Roscommon were to prevail.

Prediction: Mayo.