Preparations going well ahead of NFL
So the annual joust with Mayo in the FBD League is over, and while it would be very foolish for any Roscommon fan to be getting carried away with the three point win, there are plenty of grounds for optimism ahead of the National Football League campaign.
The Roscommon panel is much stronger this year and that will be very important as we face into a quickfire round of games starting with Meath on Sunday week.
New or returning players who have impressed in recent weeks have been Clann na nGael pair Fergal and Ciaran Lennon, although Ciaran will probably be restricted to the U-20 side earlier in the year at least. Conor Daly is playing great football and has scored eight points from play in our last four games. It’s good to have him back. Finbar Cregg is also a big addition to the team and his pace will cause a lot of defences problems this year.
Our defence looks settled with Davy Murray, John McManus and Niall McInerney playing well in the full-back line. Conor Daly and Sean Mullooly are looking good for the half-back line with the possibility of recalling team captain Conor Devaney into the number 7 jersey.
Midfield remains a problem area and Enda Smith looks nailed on for a spot there with the likes of Tadgh O’Rourke, Ian Kilbride and Fintan Cregg likely partners. Up front, the two Murtaghs are playing great football and it will be hard to ignore the claims of Donie Smith after some eye-catching displays recently. Niall Kilroy looks certain to get the number 11 jersey, with Niall Daly, Finbar Cregg, Cathal Cregg and Cian McKeon all in contention as well. We also have two great goalkeepers in Colm Lavin and James Featherston.
I fully realise that Mayo fielded very short of regulars on Sunday but Roscommon played with a lot of confidence particularly in the second half with 14 men and they kept the ball really well towards the end of the game when they were protecting their lead. It shows that the team are maturing nicely.
It’s all about the game against Meath now and it is vital that Roscommon begin the campaign with a win. I had Bernard Flynn on the radio last Monday and he said that he thought Meath were very poor in the first half of their match against Longford in the O’Byrne Cup semi-final last Sunday but that they improved in the second period.
If Roscommon can get their best starting 15 on the field then I am predicting a wining start to the league. It’s time to make Dr Hyde Park a fortress once again. More about that next week. I am also predicting that our second game – away to Tipperary will be a much tougher game. All in all, preparations are going well and I am confident that Roscommon will have a good year in 2018.
Glavey’s set for Super Sunday
The biggest day in the history of Michael Glavey’s comes around on Sunday when they contest the AIB All-Ireland Club Intermediate Semi-Final against Wexford’s Kilanerin in Tullamore.
It is very hard to predict what will happen in these games as we have never seen what the Leinster champions are like but going on the type of football that Glavey’s played to beat the Mayo and Galway champions in the Connacht semi-final and final I will be very surprised if they are not preparing for an All-Ireland final on Sunday at about half past three.
Iain Daly is a superb coach and he and his selectors have done a great job with this team. There will be a huge Roscommon crowd to cheer them on and they can reach the final if they can recapture any of that pre-Christmas form.
A great night in Strokestown
On Saturday night I was honoured to be invited to Scoil Mhuire in Strokestown to share in the celebrations as they presented their successful senior team with the All-Ireland medals for winning the ‘C’ championship in 2017. It was a superb occasion and really well organised and a very appropriate way for the team to celebrate their success with their parents, teachers, coaches and sponsors. It was a classy affair and well done to everyone concerned.
Have Liverpool finally cracked it?
Have Liverpool finally found the missing ingredients to make a team into possible Premier League champions? They won’t win it this season, but they are assembling a very exciting panel of players.
Their thrilling win against Manchester City on Sunday is another sign that Jurgen Klopp is getting it right but they have a way to go yet. The concession of two late goals shows that they still have problems in defence although it has to be admitted that Virgil van Dijk was missing. But going forward they are lethal, and really easy on the eye.
They will have to buy a decent goalkeeper and maybe one more defender but if they do that then they can challenge on all fronts. I have a feeling that they are a good outside bet for the Champions League this season.
FBD Final should be played Friday!
Kevin McStay’s call for the FBD League Final to be played this Friday night makes so much sense on a number of levels. The Roscommon v Galway game that is scheduled for Tuam next Sunday is totally meaningless, and if it goes ahead Roscommon will be fielding a third string team and it is likely that Galway will do the same. There won’t be 100 people at it.
In fact, talking to Kevin after the Mayo match, if there is no change he intends to go to the Michael Glavey’s game himself! To play the final on the 18th of February in the middle of the league campaign is unfair on the players but that doesn’t seem to matter. It could be played somewhere like the Ballyhaunis Centre of Excellence under lights on Friday night. But will that happen? Highly unlikely.
Fantastic weekend for Irish Rugby
There was fantastic action in the rugby at the weekend not least the thriller between Munster and Racing ’92 in Paris. It was a game that Munster probably should have won and they are in a great position now with Castres coming up at the weekend.
Leinster are looking great too and they are through to a home quarter-final with a game to spare. Ulster are still in with a chance too after a great win against La Rochelle. Connacht scraped a draw with Worcester but they are at home in the Challenge Cup quarter-finals and they can kick on from here. It has been a fantastic few weeks for Irish rugby and with all the teams still in contention; there will be justifiable optimism ahead of the Six Nations Championship.