U-21s hope for Easter treat

Roscommons U-21 footballers have a chance to win their first provincial title for the county at this grade since 1999 when they travel to take on Mayo in Castlebar at McHale Park this Easter Saturday (throw-in time 2.30 pm.)   It’s a daunting task for John Maughan’s men despite their very impressive win over Sligo in the semi-final last weekend because Mayo have a very strong team this year. They have several of the players who won the All-Ireland title at this grade last year and they easily accounted for Galway in the other semi-final last weekend.   The Roscommon team will feature several of the All-Ireland winning minor team from last year who may just be a year or two too young to take this title but what those excellent players might lack in experience they more than make up for in terms of footballing ability and confidence and that shone through in the semi-final against Sligo last Saturday. The Roscommon team will probably line out along the same lines as last weekend with Peter Domican starting again at centre half-back following an assured display against Sligo. Roscommon will be hoping to do better at midfield though where team captain David Hoey partners Richard Dooner. If things are not going well in this sector John Maughan has options as David Keenan can be moved there and Niall Grehan, David Flynn and James McDermott are excellent subs to bring on in the midfield area.   Up front Roscommon will be hoping for more of the same from David O’Gara, Enda Kenny, Conor Devanney and Cathal Cregg who were all in top form against Sligo.   John Collins may well start at corner-forward and if that is the case John Maughan will have subs like Grehan, Paul Gleeson, Aidan Dooney, Fintan Cregg, David Flynn and James McDermott to call upon.   Mayo cruised past Galway in impressive fashion and they boast some excellent players, many with seniort intercounty experience.    Players like Ger Cafferkey, Tom Cunniffe, Barry Moran, Adrian McMahon and the new golden boy of Mayo football Pierce Hanley are all top class players and it will take a massive effort from Roscommon to overhaul the champions in their own backyard.   Mayo are very confident that they can win this game and they have trained very hard under manager Pat Holmes and selectors Noel Connelly and Michael Collins.   However this Roscommon team played some brilliant football last Saturday against Sligo particularly in the first twenty minutes. The have a great blend of older experienced players along with many of the players who tasted All-Ireland glory at minor level last year.    Going to Castlebar holds no fears whatseover for these young Roscomon players whereas in the past a lot of Roscommon teams were beaten before they went out on the pitch at all.   I expect this to be one of the games of the years so far and I predict that if Roscommon are there or thereabouts with fifteen minute to go they will win the title and upset the odds.   Probable Roscommon starting team as follows: Colin Nicholson; Tom Bannon, Michael Killilea, Stephen Ormsby; Sean Higgins, Peter Domican, Adrain Murtagh; David Hoey (capt.), Richard Dooner; Cathal Cregg, David O’Gara, David Keenan; Conor Devanney, Enda Kenny,  Aidan Dooney or John Collins.