Tough test facing hurlers on Saturday

Connacht Hurling League: Roscommon v Galway Development Panel (in Athleague on Saturday at 2 pm) Roscommon’s senior hurlers prepare for one of the toughest years that they have had in at least a decade when they face the Galway Development panel in the first round of the Connacht Hurling League at Athleague on Saturday at 2 pm.   Roscommon team manager David McConn will have to line out without many of the players who brought three major titles to the county in 2006. Out of the reckoning for one reason or another are Alan Cunniffe and Tomas Lennon (away), Colm Kelly and Michael Kelly (exams), Dara Mulvey, John Mulvey and Thomas Reddington (unavailable) and Niall Connolly (who got married recently).   Speaking to The Roscommon People yesterday (Wednesday) Roscommon team manager David McConn says that he will be using the game to introduce new faces to the panel and the team. With that in mind the following players have been added to the panel: Tomas Seale and Alan Loughnane (Padraig Pearses), Eoin Browne, Cian O’Brien and Paul Lennon (Roscommon Gaels), Mark McLoughlin, Enda Rogerson, Shane Curley and John Coyne (Four Roads), Enda Morris and Keith McDermott (Oran) and Alan Kelly (Tremane), among others. David McConn says that while it is disappointing not to have a full ‘pick’, it is an opportunity for fringe players to make their mark.   ‘We have got to get our year going this week. We are playing Athlone IT this week (Thursday) and the Galway development panel on Saturday and it will be a chance to look at all our players because we have a very tough league campaign coming up’ he said.   ‘We are playing on Saturday and depending on the result we will be playing in the semi-finals of the league or the shield competition the folllowing week and then we have a Kehoe Cup game against Carlow IT or Wicklow and all those games are vital and very welcome as we prepare for the league on February the 10th’ he said.   ‘Our first game in the league is against Kildare at home on the 10th of February and we hope to have a settled panel by then. We are bringing a lot of U-21s into the panel and it’s a chance for them to show what they can do’ he concluded.   The Galway development panel will be managed by Ger Loughnane and will include players who are not on the Galway senior panel at present but all those on the Galway team will be hoping to impress Ger Loughnane and the selectors as they prepare to pick a panel for the forthcoming National Hurling League.    It will be a tall order for Roscommon on Saturday and it will certainly be a very competitive start to the new year for David McConn’s charges.