Connacht SFC Semi-Final: Roscommon v Sligo on Sunday at Dr Hyde Park at 4 pm (live on RTE TV)
The great thing about sport is that there is always a chance of redemption and twelve months on from a surprise defeat Roscommon footballers can finally put a disastrous day behind them after being shocked by Sligo in last year’s semi-final at Markievicz Park.
Whether it was complacency or just a very bad day at the office for the visitors, Sligo thoroughly deserved to beat Roscommon that day. This is a new year and a new championship but Roscommon will still be expected to win this semi-final against Sligo and they should be able to manage that on home soil.
Everyone knows that what happens in the league has little bearing on what happens in the championship, yet so far this summer no team has beaten one of a higher status, and let’s hope from a Roscommon point of view that remains the case until Sunday at least.
There are a number of players returning to fitness for Roscommon, notably in the troubled midfield area. Cathal Compton and Kevin Higgins are in contention and Cathal Shine is also going well. Thomas Corcoran is also improving with every week, which is very good news. The challenges are getting tougher with each championship game and Roscommon need a settled midfield. Niall Daly has been doing really well at midfield all year and remember too that Ian Kilbride (who is also on the way back) is another option in the centre.
Roscommon definitely have the players to secure a win. Seanie Mac, Neil Collins, Niall McInerney, Sean Mullooly, David Keenan, John McManus, Davy Murray, Niall Carty and others have plenty of defensive experience.
Up front, Conor Devaney, Fintan Cregg and Ciaráin Murtagh are nailed on for the half-forward line. Donie Shine, Diarmuid Murtagh, Senan Kilbride, Cathal Cregg and Donie Smith are options further forward, with Cian Connolly and Enda Smith almost ready to return. Despite the injuries, it still looks a strong Roscommon panel.
Sligo come into the game with a number of players returning from injury but they are at a disadvantage in that this is their first championship outing, while Roscommon will be playing their third game on Sunday. Charlie Harrison is back in defence and will give his side a boost. Kyle Cawley, Mark Breheny, Cian Breheny, Adrian Marren and Niall Murphy are all excellent performers and Niall Murphy is a player who will be well-known to Roscommon players with his exploits in DCU in recent seasons.
Make no mistake, Sligo will offer a much more serious threat than we saw from a really poor Leitrim side a few weeks ago. But any complacency that Roscommon might have had has been knocked out of them by events last year against the same opposition and by the performance against New York. Indeed even against Leitrim Roscommon were poor at times and they need to be more clinical in front of the posts.
Kevin McStay says that Roscommon need to be able to win matches that they are expected to win and this is one of those matches. Roscommon are building nicely and my information is that training has been going well and the focus is entirely on this game, as it should be. In front of a huge home crowd and the national TV cameras, it is time for Roscommon to stand up to the plate and deliver a good performance – and a good win too. That’s very achievable for the Rossies, as long as the attitude is right, and I think it will be too.
Match odds: Roscommon 1/7 v Sligo 5/1; Draw 10/1.
Prediction: Roscommon, by eight points.