A re-look at the Rossies

It’s scarcely believable but this Sunday – Easter Sunday, no less – the lads take the field for their opening match in this year’s Championship. Roscommon provide the opposition in what’s a Connacht SFC quarter-final tie. The match throws in at Hastings Insurance MacHale Park at 4pm, Noel Mooney of Cavan is the ref and it’s being shown live on RTÉ2.

It’s only a month since we played the Rossies in Round 5 of the National League. We came into that game at Dr Hyde Park already having reached the top of Division One, a place Roscommon had occupied until they were beaten by Monaghan in the previous round.

If anyone wants a refresher on Roscommon’s form heading into our meeting last month, my pre-match piece on that one is here.

Our position at the top of the table was copper-fastened by the win we achieved at their place that day. It was, though, far from a comfortable win for us, as we let slip the bulk of an eight-point lead, with Roscommon banging in two late goals as we held out for a nervy two-point win.

Although they lost, the Rossies would surely have been happy enough with how that game went. They’d largely matched us over the seventy minutes and the two goals they scored demonstrated their ability to hurt us where it counts.

From our perspective, though, this was a game we won without lining out with either Aidan O’Shea or Ryan O’Donoghue, though both of them were on the field before the finish. Our increasingly influential goalkeeper Colm Reape was also rested that day, with Rory Byrne lining out instead (and doing fine too, it must be said), while it was the first full outing that captain Paddy Durcan had this year.

Roscommon have played two more League matches since we met them.

In Round 6, they lost for the third successive time, as they fell to Kerry in Tralee by 1-12 to 0-12. This one followed a roughly similar trajectory to our game, with Kerry racing into an early lead only for the Rossies to claw their way doggedly back into contention. No more than our match, they’ll have taken plenty of heart from their performance against the All-Ireland champions, not least given the fact that, once Kerry start well against any team on home turf, they’re well capable of going to town on them.

Back at Hyde Park in Round 7, Davy Burke’s charges finished out their Division One campaign against a rudderless Donegal, a side that, mental maths aside, were already relegated before they took the field.

Roscommon showed the hapless O’Donnell County no mercy, thumping them by 0-21 to 0-9. That twelve-point margin of victory ensured that they finished ahead of Tyrone on points difference, with both counties on eight points, though the Rossies had the Red Hands on the head-to-head for good measure.

This meant a notable 1-2-3 for the three Connacht counties in Division One, demonstrating both the strength of football within the province right now as well as the howling lunacy of this year’s provincial draw that sees all three of us bracketed together in one half of it.

It wasn’t unbridled good news for the Rossies in that match against Donegal, by the way, as they lost midfielder Tadhg O’Rourke to injury that day. It was, unfortunately for the Tulsk Lord Edwards player, a season-ending Achilles injury, for which he has already undergone surgery. Roscommon weren’t the strongest around the middle as it was so this is, without doubt, a blow to them.

They’ve had a weekend off while we were playing Galway in the National League final last Sunday and the fact that we won that game and, with it, a 13th League title, surely won’t perturb them unduly. After all, the last three times we won the League – in 1970, 2001 and 2019 – Roscommon subsequently beat us in that year’s Connacht Championship. They’ll surely be well fired up to extend that run to four.

We’re obviously favourites to win but favouritism doesn’t always count in provincial matches like this. Roscommon will rock up at Castlebar on Sunday coming off the back of an extremely encouraging Division One campaign and their narrow loss to us last month will buoy them up still further. They’d like nothing better than to turn us over again, like the way they did at MacHale Park in 2019.

Roscommon have named their team and subs for Sunday – details here.

We’ll be looking to maintain the strong momentum we’ve built so far this year. Kevin McStay is on record as saying that his preferred route this summer is via Nestor Cup success, knowing that wins over our two big Connacht rivals – followed by a provincial decider against either Leitrim or Sligo – will point us towards the new All-Ireland group stage in fine fettle.

This is obviously a match that both managers have been plotting about and planning towards ever since the provincial draw was made. Both of them will be sending their respective teams into battle on Sunday determined to secure an opening round win in this year’s Championship.

Which of them is likely to see their team do it on Sunday? Let’s finish with a vote on that.

Will we beat Roscommon?

  • Yes (77%, 549 Votes)
  • No (23%, 163 Votes)

Total Voters: 712

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30 thoughts on “A re-look at the Rossies

  1. Our game last month in the Hyde had an element of a phony war about it until the last quarter and Roscommon went for it in a big way. I think both Mayo and Roscommon both had five or six changes from their previous league match. With both Mayo and Roscommon garunteed a place in the last 16 round fixtures. Both I believe wisely will want to avoid injuries. If either team were to pick up significant injuries and even if they go on to win the match , their chance’s of going far in race for Sam would decrease. I hope for a good competitive game with no injuries to either side.. Last Sunday their was an absence of malice in the League Final as well.. Was it just two yellows issued?

  2. Think 14 of the 15 that started last week, I expect hession will be the only change.

    Keep Conroy starting on the bench (for now), it’s a marathon not a sprint. Will need tommy ready for croker in June when the serious stuff starts

  3. Back in 2017, Mayo beat a lot of these lads 4-19 to 0-09 when McStay was managing Roscommon. That’s when the Smyths and Murtaghs were at their peak. Hard to believe they have improved enough since then to give Mayo much of a game.

  4. I imagine there be alot of changes to that team . But Hussey at 2 is for Aido, let’s go out and play our game but Callinan and Coyne will get a different type of challenge in Cox and murthagh.
    They have goals in them and strong runners as well as wiley old foxes but think we will get better of them.
    Boys had a good challenge in Galways deep blanket defence so be interesting to see what the lads learnt .
    Expect Carr will have more space and need a bit game from Carney and Fionn as they should have greater chance to get forward

  5. The whole Connacht championship is a false war. The provincial championships are dead in the new format, and not without time.

  6. @The west is best

    Also drew with Mayo the week previously. In 2017 the Smiths and the Murtaghs would be in their early 20s rather than their peak. 11 changes to the Roscommon team now from 2017 and i think last months league encounter has more relevance.

  7. MayoMagic, they still the key players. And while they drew with us the week previous they shipped several more hidings that year.

    I fancy Mayo by 6 plus if the lads can get themselves up for it after last weekend. But like 2017 if we were to draw/lose to them this week were we to meet again later when the game actually matters I’d fancy Mayo for an easy win.

  8. While the Ross defence looks suspect, their forwards have the potential to hurt us or anyone. Had Mayo not been playing last Sunday they would be seriously fancied to win this. But the psychological challenge of getting themselves up for that game, playing in a challenging game and coming down from the high of winning takes its toll. It is not like playing u14 club games. The mental side is a huge thing in championship. While we had to ready ourselves for last Sunday the Rossies could prepare without any distractions.That’s why quite a lot of posters were concerned about us qualifying for league final. Having said all that I do expect us to win. Also expected us to win in 2019 and 2001after league finals but it didn’t pan out that way for us

  9. I’d start a different 15 to last week. Some lads need game time, others need a rest. If we were to win then great and if not no harm done. The Championship really starts in a couple of months. Now if we could unearth a player to command the centre of our defense during the match, then that would make it a very worthwhile experience.

  10. Gizmobobs

    They were out of the championship after that trimming. 2017 they also got relegated with a game to spare and this year they finished 3rd not far off the final.

  11. Isn’t it time to drop the No, 6 experiment and put a proper defender in that position. Two goals through the middle against Roscommon and 5 goal chances given away against Galway. It may have seemed a good idea at the time but it hasn’t worked either in a defensive or offensive capacity. We will pay for it in the big matches at the end of the Championship , if not on Sunday against Roscommon.
    There is a glaring hole in our defense. We very much need a sweeper who’ll sit back and anticipate these goal opportunities. A converted forward can not have the instincts for this role. He is too light, too gentle and not fast enough {as Heaney showed last Sunday}
    I have nothing against this player. He is a stylish forward who was a brilliant Under 21. But it is unfair to ask him to be a John Morley or a James Nallen. He is not tough enough.

  12. Apologies Mayo Magic, you are correct. 2018 was when they got beat up and down the country. But weren’t Murtaghs, Smith, Lennon et Al the main scorer for them then?

  13. Very little between Galway, Roscommon and Mayo this year so far .
    Rossies have sorted their biggest problem and that was midfield ..
    Make no mistake. They are coming to McHale Park with only victory on their minds , and they’d love turning us over at home

  14. I really hate this new format …starting in April and finishing in July.It acheives nothing really because for 28 out of 32 counties the intercounty championship was always over in at the August Bank holiday and club championships dont really seem to get played during Summer anyway because so many players are away on holiday or playing in USA like Mayo guys last year going to Chicago.The whole thibg is rushed off the stage.Maybe its my age but the old system was much nicer

  15. The 2nd string would give it a right crack. A bit more cohesion would be needed than the monaghan game but I’d rotate and let them lads have one more crack at staking a claim. Roll out the big guns to see the game out. I don’t mean to dismiss the Rossies out of hand, they have forwards who can hurt and Burke will have lined this one up and have them chomping at the bit….. But we’ve a better team and squad.
    Full strength v Galway and hope that we are able to repeat last Sundays result.
    Rotate for Connacht final. Losing is far from a big deal and Id prioritise a clean bill of health for when the big boy football starts over the Nestor cup.

    His team selection could very well be the final nail in the coffin of the provincials if he wanted it to be.

  16. Agree 100 percent 1989. Playing first round of championship on Easter Sunday just does not seem right. As you say the club championship won’t start til Autumn. Four separate county competitions (if you include the FBD) finished by July in much haste. Format also really helps the Kerry’s and Dublins of this world. I mean the strong county in the weak province. Anyway we are stuck with it now so just need to go and do our best. In reference to our No 6 and goal chances conceded. While I understand the concern, some of those chances came from our never ending Achilles heel – the long high ball in around the goals, another from a really quick mark taken by Conroy which caught us unaware etc

  17. Someone posted earlier that the panel must be made public today. It said that 4 additional players are being named as replacements for late injury/ Covid etc. Is it possible that Mc Stay will just name 30 players in alphabetical order and people aren’t much wiser. Last weeks subs were in alphabetical order.

  18. You’re right My Ball. Let’s bate them all the way to Carracastle and let Ballaghaderreen boys bate them the rest of the way.

  19. I think we will play the strongest team available to us, possibly omitting the u20 players.
    Winning is a good habit.

  20. With full team should beat Roscommon, however if gap in middle of defence is not pluged, The Rossies will score goals and win the game.
    All down to team selection and putting right man at centre half back.

  21. @Gizmobobs
    Diarmuid Murtagh and Enda Smith would both be around 28 now (peak ages) not 2017 when they weren’t long out of the U21 grade as @The west is best was saying yesterday.

  22. @Liberal I’ll let you know there hasn’t been a drop of rain, only nice 23-27 degree weather! 🙂

    Roll on tomorrow, hope we stuff them handy.

  23. @MayoMagic, on that basis we can forget about contesting for Sam in 5 years when Clifford hits top gear.

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