All-Ireland SFC Group 3: Roscommon v Kildare on Sunday at Glenisk O’Connor Park, Tullamore at 1.45 pm
Another big test beckons for Roscommon footballers on Sunday when they take on Kildare in Tullamore. They know that depending on the results of the day they can finish first, second or third in the group and thus their future in this year’s championship will be much clearer shortly after 3 pm on Sunday.
Of the four groups in this year’s revamped All-Ireland SFC, group three involving Roscommon, Dublin, Sligo and Kildare is the only one in which all four counties still have a chance of progressing in the championship going into the last round of games.
Of course there are several very tasty sub plots to this clash, not least the fact that Roscommon manager Davy Burke will be attempting to defeat his native county which he steered to All-Ireland U-20 glory in 2018.
The game will also bring back memories of a scintillating clash between the two counties in Portlaoise in 2003, a game in which Frankie Dolan turned in an astonishing performance, scoring 0-13 in the process.
Speaking to People Sport this week, Davy Burke said he was looking forward to this big clash despite the fact it’s against his native county.
“As I said after the Sligo game, I have a job to do for Roscommon and that’s my focus. We have to win this match and that’s what I am working towards. The fact that it’s against Kildare will not make any difference at all. We are fit and raring to go again on Sunday,” he said.
“Kildare will travel to Tullamore for a win and we are expecting a very competitive match but while we would love to get straight into the quarter finals by finishing first in the group, we have to at least guarantee a home match in the next round and we have to win to make sure that happens,” he continued.
The Roscommon manager will have a full deck to choose from this Sunday.
“The lads are training hard and there is huge competition for places. I can tell you there will be some very disappointed players on Sunday because the pressure is on throughout the squad for places which is great to see,” he said.
Davy says that O’Connor Park is an excellent venue and he is expecting a wonderful atmosphere.
“Tullamore is a great venue for the match. Both sides are well supported so there will be a great buzz around for the match. The bottom line is that we are going there to win the game. If it’s by a point then that’s great but the win is what are looking for and let’s see what happens after that,” he concluded.
Kildare have been inconsistent this year. In the Leinster championship they gave Dublin a serious test in the semi-final before going down by two points. However, they lost a four-point lead very late on against Sligo to end up drawing that game and they were defeated by nine points by Dublin in this group two weeks ago.
Expectations were high in Kildare when Glen Ryan and his high-profile management team that includes Dermot Earley, Johnny Doyle and Anthony Rainbow were appointed last year but they have flattered to deceive thus far.
However, the Lilywhites have a lot of young talented players at their disposal having won the U-20 All-Ireland in 2018 and again earlier this year.
Roscommon have hardly put a foot wrong this year so far and they are the deserved favourites going into this game. Davy Burke will be expecting a much tougher test from Kildare than what Sligo offered.
There is so much quality in this Roscommon team and if they can get enough ball into the Smiths, the Murtaghs, Ben O’Carroll and Cian McKeon, Roscommon can do enough to secure the win they need. Prediction: Roscommon.
Note: Dublin face Sligo in Breffni Park in the other game in the group on Sunday. It would be a massive shock if the Dubs did not win by a handsome margin and progress to the quarter-finals in first place.