U-21 hurlers eye All-Ireland

It’s been a very barren few years for Roscommon hurling. As the senior and underage teams lurched from one  heavy defeat to another hurling fans in the county longed for the days when The Rossies could easily compete at the second level of senior and underage hurling in the country.   However 2007 has seen a major revival in the county’s fortunes and this Saturday Roscommon play Kerry in the first of two All-Ireland finals two weeks in a row (the seniors play Armagh in the Nicky Rackard Cup final on Saturday week in Croke Park) in the All-Ireland U-21 B competition at Semple Stadium in Thurles (throw-in at 3.45 pm).   After a brilliant display against a fancied Kildare side in the semi-final, Roscommon are now confident that they can again upset the odds and defeat a fancied Kerry team in the spiritual home of hurling.   Roscommon senior manager David McConn is also in charge of the U-21 team and he is understandably very excited about Saturday’s final.    ‘It’s a great opportunity for Roscommon’s young hurlers as we have not been in this final since the late 1960’s and the fact we are playing in Thurles is fantastic’ he said.    David tells me that the team have trained hard and he expects to have a full crew available for selection on Saturday. ‘Joe Fallon was carrying an injury into the Kildare game but we are happy enough that he will be ready for Sunday’s game.    ‘I was thrilled the way this very young Roscommon team played against Kildare – players like Kenny Doolin, Michael Kelly and Gary Fallon were outstanding, and we will want that again on Saturday’ he said.    David McConn is also delighted that the match is part of a double-header with the minor football game. ‘It’s a great boost to have the extra bit of support that the minor footballers will bring. We will need it all. There is a big link too to the minor team that won the All-Ireland last year because we have three players who were on that team – Gary Fallon, Mark Miley and Mark McLoughlin – and Padraig Kelly will be togging out for us after he togs for the minor team earlier in the day’ said David.   David McConn says that these young players will be the future of Roscommon hurling. ‘I have been so impressed with them so far. The young players coming on is the only way we can progress here in Roscommon hurling and I think that these are a special group of lads’ he said.    Finally, David is expecting a tough test from the Kerrymen. ‘Look – Kerry will have to be the favourites going into this match. They are an experienced team and they will be confident of taking the title but I am confident that this Roscommon team can beat them on the day’ he concluded.   It is no coincidence that the upsurge in Roscommon’s hurling fortunes has come about since the appointment of David McConn as the team manager and he and his management team have put in a mountain of work this year already. There are two big games coming up this Saturday and next Saturday. Let’s all hope that round one results in silverware coming back across the Shannon on Saturday evening. All-Ireland U-21 Hurling B Final: Roscommon v Kerry in Semple Stadium,   Thurles on Saturday at 3.45 pm.