Allianz National Football League Division 2: Tipperary v Roscommon at Semple Stadium, Thurles on Sunday at 2 pm
This was always going to be a very difficult game for Roscommon but it is a really testing prospect now following the draw at Dr. Hyde Park last Sunday. Add in Tipperary’s excellent winning performance in scoring 3-16 in Pairc Uí Caoimh last Saturday night and you get an idea of the task facing Kevin McStay’s men on Sunday. Put simply, Roscommon will have to get something out of this game if they are to have a cut at promotion later on. It will not be easy.
There were positives and negatives to take out of last Sunday’s match from a Roscommon point of view. On the positive side, Roscommon look settled in attack and it’s good news that Diarmuid Murtagh and Conor Devaney will be okay for this match. Roscommon also got a grip in defence towards the end of the game after a disastrous ten minutes which saw Meath run riot.
But the second-half implosion was very worrying and the performance of a few of the Roscommon subs was not up to scratch. Roscommon are also still struggling at midfield and will have to find an answer there, and quick, because Tipperary have Jack Kennedy and Stephen O’Brien, who are outstanding players.
Tipperary also have razor-sharp attackers in Liam McGrath, who scored 2-5 last Saturday night, Conor Sweeney at centre half-forward, and the superb Michael Quinlivan, who is one of the top forwards in the country.
Tipperary are a good side but I have a feeling that if Roscommon can get a supply of ball into their attack, then this Tipperary team can be got at defensively.
The fact that Roscommon now need to get at least a draw from this match will concentrate minds on Sunday – at least it should do. It’s time that Roscommon were more ruthless when they are on top. Last Sunday, the Rossies idled in front and missed some very easy chances to put Meath away and they paid the price later on. A repeat would rule out a win this weekend.
With both sides very strong in attack and on a perfect pitch I am expecting a high-scoring and excellent contest. Donie Smith is surely worth his place in the Roscommon attack. He has certainly done enough in the FBD League and over the past couple of years to get a starting spot. It would strengthen us even further in that department.
Roscommon will have to play close to the top of their game if they are to win, but I have a feeling that they will be highly motivated and might just edge it against a talented home side. It’s a game I’m fearful of, but I am giving a hesitant vote to Roscommon.