Roscommon ready for Tyrone challenge

EirGrid All-Ireland U-20 FC Semi-Final: Roscommon v Tyrone at Kingspan Breffni Park, Cavan on Saturday at 5 pm

Roscommon’s U-20s haven’t had much time to celebrate their magnificent victory in the Connacht final against Galway as they now have to re-focus and face Tyrone in the All-Ireland semi-final this Saturday.

When the teams played each other in a challenge game earlier in the year, Tyrone came away very easy winners, but the outcome of challenge matches is often not an accurate barometer of how a team is faring when it comes to the big championship games.

Roscommon have been in terrific form in their last two games, scoring 6-29 in the process. They have been a breath of fresh air and a pleasure to watch in action.

However, Tyrone will provide a really formidable opponent after they came through a bruising Ulster Championship, squeezing past Derry on penalties (3-1) after a thrilling provincial final that finished level, 2-13 (Derry) to 3-10 (Tyrone), after extra-time.

Speaking to the Roscommon People after last Saturday’s Connacht final, the Roscommon team manager Noel Dunning said that to be playing such a big game just six days on from the previous outing will be an advantage to his players. “I think they’ll feed massively off the confidence and momentum from the Connacht final win.

“The thing for us now is to keep the team grounded and get them focused on Saturday’s game straight away. I would much rather that than having a couple of weeks of a break, because you’ll soon get over the knocks and bumps when you’ve an All-Ireland semi-final on the horizon”.

Noel says that Roscommon would have learned a lot when the teams met earlier in the year in a challenge game as they were well beaten by the Red Hand County.

“They gave us a schooling in that game and we learned a lot from it. We put those lessons to good use, and a lot of what we learned from that game was in evidence in that Connacht final.

“Tyrone have come through a very tough Ulster Championship, no more than ourselves in Connacht, but we’ll be ready for them, we’ll be fine. They’re an excellent team and they’re playing well, but we are Connacht champions so we should be confident too” he concluded.

Not having seen Tyrone in action at all, it’s difficult to make an informed prediction of what might be the outcome, however, Tyrone have a great record in this competition and they won the All-Ireland title only two years ago.

It should be a cracking game if both teams go out to play attacking football similar to what we saw in the Connacht final. There is a big prize on offer and with a bit of luck Roscommon can edge it if they can re-produce the form they showed in their last two matches. Meath face Kerry in the other semi-final.