Redemption Day?

A chance for redemption is what awaits the winner of Saturday’s Bank of Ireland All-Ireland qualifier at Dr. Hyde Park when Roscommon face Kildare in a game that will begin at 3 pm.   It was only when I began to research into the Kildare situation in the run-up to this game that it dawned on me that both sides are going into Saturday’s match in almost exactly the same circumstances.   Both teams were beaten in the first round of their respective provincial championships when they were expected to win and both sides were extremely disappointed afterwards by the manner of their defeat – therefore Saturday’s game will offer a great chance for one of the teams to get back on the winning trail and to restore confidence to their squad.   Roscommon played Longford in a challenge game at Hyde Park on Saturday night and while they lost the game they showed a little bit of drive and determination at times that was most welcome and that’s required in any championship game.   The team will be along the lines of that which lost against Sligo but it looks almost certain that David Casey will be missing. The Boyle man limped off during the game against Longford and is now extremely doubtful for Saturday’s game.   The Roscommon team will be along the lines of Geoffrey Claffey in goals with Seanie McDermott, Anthony McDermott and Paddy O’Connor in a full-back line that was easily Roscommon’s best sector against Sligo.   Stuart Daly has recoved from injury and he will line up in the half-back line with Richard Dooner on the other flank. Who will be centre half-back is anyone’s guess but David Casey looks very doubtful now. Either of the John Nolans or Rory O’Connor are options for that position.   Michael Finneran and Seamus O’Neill will be the midfield partnership. Up front Gary Cox will probably lead the attack with Cathal Cregg, John Tiernan, Karol Mannion, Ger Heneghan, Derek Connellan and Enda Kenny all in contention for places.   At their best it’s a Roscommon team that can get enough scores to win this game against what is no more than mediocre opposition. I spoke to a number of people in Kildare this week who are viewing this game with trepidation. They had high hopes of doing well in the championship this summer only to be well beaten by Meath which has deflated the players and the supporters too and exprectations are consequently low.   Kildare have played three challenge game in recent weeks against Westmeath, Galway and Kerry, all of which they lost. They are suffering from an injury crisis too. Regular attackers Tadgh Fennin and Leinster player Padraig O’Neill are doubtful while All-Star midfielder Dermot Earley will not be fit to start. He is back in training but is likely to be on the bench.   Kevin O’Neill is likely to be the Kildare full-back with regulars Ronan Sweeney and Ross Lavin expected to form the midfield partnership. However it’s up front where Kildare seem to have most problems and they depend almost totally on the excellent John Doyle for their scores and their inspiration –  however he was not able to do it on his own against Meath. He is likely to line out at centre half-forward on Saturday.   Roscommon were very poor against Sligo but I reckon that this match gives the players the perfect opportunity to recover from that loss. I know that morale in Roscommon wasn’t good after the defeat to Sligo but if anything the morale in Kildare is far worse.    The Roscommon players have trained very hard over the past six months and if they can hit form on the day on Saturday I know that they are good enough to beat what is surely a very dispirited Kildare team who are suffering from injuries and a lack of scoring power. Dermot Earley is a massive loss to them but don’t rule out seeing him on the field at some stage.   If the Roscommon players re-discover their determination and will-to-win – the same type of attitude we saw against Cavan and Offaly earlier in the year – then there is no reason whatsoever that they cannot win this game and go on to the next round.   The last time the sides met in the qualifiers there was 26,000 people in O’Moore Park and they witnesssed a classic as Roscommon won in extra-time. There won’t be 26,000 there on Saturday but a win of any kind would be most welcome. Prediction: Roscommon.