This coming weekend sees the fifth round of games in this year’s National League, with our Division One Round 5 fixture a top-of-the-table encounter with neighbours Roscommon. We’re currently tied at the division’s summit on six League points but we head to Dr Hyde Park ahead of them in the table by virtue of our better points difference.
The match throws in at the Roscommon venue at 2.45pm on Sunday. It’s being shown live on TG4 and Brendan Cawley of Kildare is the ref.
We’ve a very good record against the Rossies in the National League. We’ve won twice as many times as we’ve lost to them in the competition (20 wins to 10 losses) and we haven’t lost to them at all in the League since 1988. That’s also the most recent time we lost in the spring competition to them at Sunday’s venue.
It’s a different matter, of course, in the Championship where their most recent win over us occurred as recently as 2019 when, for the third time since 1970, they showed scant regard for our status as recently-crowned National League winners by unceremoniously dumping us out of Connacht.
Even in the Championship, though, you have to go back as far as 2001 to find the most recent time they beat us at their place. This all means that, unlike our last two League games, we’re not going into this one aiming to end a long run without a win over the opposition. This time the shoe is on the other foot.
Roscommon’s excellent early form in this year’s Division One campaign means they’re coming into Sunday’s meeting with a fair bit of confidence about how they’ll do against us. But, of course, because we’re set to meet in the Connacht SFC quarter-final a mere five weeks after Sunday’s encounter, this one will take place very much in the shadow of the more important meeting facing us both in April.
Before taking a closer look at the Rossies’ League matches this year, let’s first wind the clock back to last year, the final one in which Anthony Cunningham managed them. After getting the better of Galway in the Division Two decider – on the same day Kerry pasted us in the Division One final – Roscommon beat Sligo to set up a rematch with the Tribesmen in the Connacht final.
They lost that Nestor Cup decider by three points. That wasn’t a shock but their subsequent 2-15 to 1-17 loss to Clare in Round 2 of the qualifiers, with the prize for the winners a place in the All-Ireland quarter-finals, sure was and it ended their 2022 inter-county year on a downbeat note.
Kildare’s Davy Burke took over as manager in the closed season and the Kildare man already has something tangible to show for his efforts. Under him, Roscommon – football’s perennial yo-yo team – had all but guaranteed top-tier survival after just three rounds of matches, at which point they were out in front in Division One.
They started off in fine fashion, beating Tyrone by 3-11 to 1-12 at Hyde Park, to provide early notice that this time around they had no intention of becoming prime candidates for the drop. They followed this up the weekend after by coming out on top by a single point in a low-scoring scrappy encounter with Galway at Pearse Stadium, a match they won by 0-9 to 0-8.
The winning run continued the weekend before last when, back at home, they beat Armagh – the Orchard County fresh from snatching a comeback draw against us – by three points, on a scoreline of 1-12 to 0-12.
Last weekend, however, gravity began to assert itself. Monaghan, already desperate for a result as, once again, they struggle to avoid relegation, had three points to spare over the visiting Rossies, winning at Clones by 0-14 to 0-11.
In the aftermath of Sunday’s defeat, Davy Burke, rather oddly, professed himself “glad” that their short winning run was over. I doubt he’ll be voicing the same sentiments, though, if we extend their losing run to two games the next day.
Which brings us neatly to our end-point here and the usual testing-of-the-waters exercise. So, how do you think Sunday will go for us?
How will we do against Roscommon?
- Win (75%, 770 Votes)
- Lose (14%, 145 Votes)
- Draw (11%, 109 Votes)
Total Voters: 1,024