Saturday, 28 March 2015

Kilbride, Shine to return?

Allianz National Football League Division 3: Roscommon v Wexford (at Wexford Park on Sunday at 12.45 pm)

When the fixtures schedule was drawn up at the start of this campaign this always looked likely to be Roscommonís most difficult game and as the campaign has progressed that still looks the case. Wexford were shocked by Sligo in a high-scoring game in round two but, apart from that, Jason Ryanís men have been in sparkling form and are one of the highest scoring teams in the league.

  Roscommon come into the game after a very good win against Antrim last Sunday and although the team will not be finalised until later in the week, it is known that Des Newton will not be playing the U-21 players who play in the Connacht semi-final in Kiltoom next Wednesday night.

  Geoffrey Claffey will captain the Roscommon team from the goalkeeperís position. The full-back line will probably remain intact this Sunday with Seanie McDermott, Neil Collins and Cathal Dineen all impressing in recent games. Ian Kilbride has been Roscommonís best player in their last two games while Des Newton may rest Niall Daly on Sunday. Seanie Purcell and Stephen Ormsby will also be in contention for places in the defence.

  Michael Finneran will most likely be paired with Kevin Higgins again on Sunday, although Karol Mannion might well start in this area after coming on as a sub in the last two games. Up front David Keenan, Cathal Cregg, Conor Devanney, Ger Heneghan and Darren McDermott look assured of their places while Senan Kilbride will be odds-on to start at full-forward, and Donie Shine may well return to the team too. I presume that Niall Kilroy, Colin Compton and Conor Daly will all be rested because of the U-21 game. 

  Wexford are a very impressive side and one that is well managed by the Jason Ryan. They have been a major factor in the Leinster Championship over the past few years and they have some excellent players who have become household names in recent years, particularly in attack.

  Wexford have averaged a score of 2-17 per game so far in this league which is a most impressive total. However they have conceded an average of 2-10. Roscommon have averaged 1-11 in scoring and conceded 1-9. That would lead me to believe that the Roscommon defence will have to be on high alert on Sunday against a lethal Wexford attack, but that if Roscommon can get the ball into their attackers it may prove fruitful against a shaky Wexford defence.

  It is a vital game for both sides. It could be a high-scoring game. In their early stage of development under Des Newton it may be a bridge too far for Roscommon. Naturally I hope Iím wrong.

Match odds: Wexford 4/7 v Roscommon 7/4; Draw 15/2.

Prediction: Wexford by three points.