Roscommon will need to summon spirit of Castlebar

Connacht SFC semi-final: Roscommon v Galway on Sunday at Dr. Hyde Park at 4pm 

Roscommon footballers’ memorable 2023 moves on to another stage this Sunday when they welcome another fierce rival, Galway, to Dr Hyde Park. It is another tough challenge for Davy Burke and his team. After the heroics against Mayo, expectations will be high. There will be a big crowd and a great atmosphere. If Roscommon can repeat the intensity they showed in Castlebar two weeks ago then they will provide the Tribesmen with a serious test. 

  Galway have had three weeks to lick their wounds after their league final defeat to Mayo. They are determined to win another Connacht title and go into the new All-Ireland series as number one seeds from the West.
  Roscommon were magnificent against Mayo. Every single player (including the subs who were used) made a massive contribution to that victory. The same will be required on Sunday if Roscommon are to come through. The confidence and ‘feelgood factor’ generated by that superb win against Kevin McStay’s men cannot be underestimated

  In my view Galway have much better forwards than Mayo. Shane Walsh and Damien Comer are obvious threats, but Robert Finnerty, Matthew Tierney, Johnny Heaney and Peter Cooke are all scoring forwards too. The Roscommon defence will have to be at its very best on Sunday.

  Having said that, there are continuing question marks over the Galway defence and goalkeeper, and if Roscommon can hit the ground running and show the same appetite for hard work that we saw against Mayo, then a close game is on the cards. 

  Roscommon will hardly be making too many changes from the Mayo game. Conor Carroll is one of the finds of the year and continues to be an excellent goalkeeper. The full-back line of Conor Hussey, Conor Daly and Davy Murray were fantastic against Mayo. It will be interesting to see who Davy Burke puts on Shane Walsh. My money would be on Conor Daly. Either way, it’s a tough task for whoever is detailed to mark Walsh as he is a class act and always seems to play well against Roscommon.

  Niall Daly is having his best season in a long time in the half-back line while Brian Stack has been arguably Roscommon’s best player this year. Eoin McCormack never put a foot wrong against Mayo and will relish the challenge this Sunday.

  It looks likely that Dylan Ruane and Keith Doyle will form the midfield partnership. Both players are doing very well and their battle with the Galway midfield could decide the outcome. Paul Conroy will definitely start for Padraic Joyce’s men, but the big question is will Conor McDaid be alongside him? If he is back from injury then Galway will be strengthened considerably.

  It is up front where Roscommon can have the edge on Sunday. Diarmuid Murtagh is playing the kind of football that we all knew that he was capable of, while Enda Smith is having a super season. If the All Star team was being picked this week he would be a shoo-in. Ben O’Carroll has been a massive find, while Donie Smith, Ciaráin Murtagh, Ciaran Lennon, Conor Cox, Daire Cregg, Cian McKeon and Niall Kilroy can all fit into the attack seamlessly. 

  Padraic Joyce has All-Ireland ambitions with this Galway team. They were unlucky enough in last year’s final against Kerry, and feel they can go a step further this year. They certainly do not want to be losing to Roscommon at this stage, so it will be ultra-competitive on Sunday.

  From a Roscommon point of view I would be fearful of that potent Galway attack, but if the Rossies can repeat the type of game plan and attitude that they showed against Mayo, it will take a very good team to beat them.

  Roscommon are on a roll. I think they can win it by a point or two.

Prediction: Roscommon.