Provincial foes set for dress rehearsal!

Rossies back down to earth for Mayo visit

Allianz National Football League Division One (Round 5): Roscommon v Mayo on Sunday at Dr Hyde Park at 2.45 pm

Richard Hughes was in fine form during last Sunday’s Allianz Football League Division One match between Roscommon and Monaghan in St. Tiernach’s Park, Clones. Pic: Bernie O’Farrell

Any Roscommon football supporter who thought that there wouldn’t be a ‘bump in the road’ for the team after those three great wins at the start of the Division One campaign is not living in the real world.

In fact, for Davy Burke’s men to have won those three matches is a great achievement. But every game in this division is a huge test and they don’t come bigger than this Sunday against Roscommon’s great rivals Mayo.

This is also a tricky tie for the Roscommon players and management in terms of how to approach it. The championship clash between the two on April 9th is just six weeks away and that is a day of destiny for both sides.

But the last thing Roscommon need at this stage is to be well beaten by Mayo (or anyone else) so Davy Burke will be very determined that his charges produce a performance on Sunday.

Roscommon never really got going in Clones and that will be a worry, however the sight of the green and red jerseys should motivate them on Sunday and it should be a cracking match.

Davy Burke will probably try some new combinations. Niall Kilroy could be in from the start and Richard Hughes has certainly helped to nail down a starting place after his excellent display against Monaghan.

Up front, Roscommon will be hoping for more energy from the Smiths, the Murtaghs, Ben O’Carroll and Daire Cregg because Mayo will arrive determined to tie down Roscommon’s danger men.

Mayo have been excellent in their last few games while against Kerry and Tyrone they cut loose up front. I have been so impressed with their full-forward line of Ryan O’Donoghue, James Carr and Aidan O’Shea. Kevin McStay seems to have finally found the best position for O’Shea, who has been devastating as a target man.

Mayo seem to have overcame the loss of Lee Keegan and Oisin Mullen which is some achievement given their quality, and the bandwagon is on the roll again but their biggest tests are still to come.

Agatha Christie would be proud of the number of sub-plots that surround this fixture. We have Kevin McStay, who managed Roscommon so recently, and who lives just yards from Hyde Park, taking on the ‘new kid on the block’ Davy Burke. The players know each other well and the shadow of that huge game on Easter Sunday will be ever present. Mayo are ahead at the top of the table on score difference but will they show their hand this Sunday?

Roscommon will be hoping to get back to the style that we saw in those first three wins while the visitors will want to continue the momentum they have built up over the past three weeks. There will be a massive crowd in attendance and an electric atmosphere for this fascinating clash.

What Roscommon need is a good performance but Mayo have to be favourites to win and they should do so by three or four points.

Prediction: Mayo.