Allianz National Football League Division 3: Sligo v Roscommon (on Sunday at Markievicz Park at 2.30 pm)
Roscommon and Sligo meet on Sunday for the second time in less than 24 hours but there will be far less at stake in this game than in the U-21 game at Hyde Park on Saturday. Both sides are safe in the knowledge that they can neither be relegated nor promoted, so it would be fair to assume that the two team managers, Des Newton of Roscommon and Kevin Walsh of Sligo, will be taking the chance to try out some fringe players to see how they perform in a competitive environment ahead of the Connacht Championship. Nevertheless neither side will want to end the league campaign on a losing note.
The last time the two sides met in the league was at the same venue two years ago and at that stage Roscommon had already been relegated to Division Four and Sligo needed to win to go up to Division Two. The home side won easily on the day.
However the paths of both sides have gone in different directions since that game. Sligo were beaten by Roscommon later that summer in the Connacht final and were then relegated last year from Division Two. They are a side with plenty of talented players and under Kevin Walsh they have made good progress over the last few years. However they have slipped back over the last twelve months or so.
Roscommon manager Des Newton says that although there may not be a lot at stake on Sunday it is still a game that he wants to win. “There may not be a lot at stake in terms of the league promotion or relegation but we are going to Sligo to win. Players now want to put in good performances so they can be sure of a place on the panel ahead of the championship and the management will be watching performances now very closely.
“We will not be using the U-21s and while we have not finalised a team yet Peter Domican will definitely be starting at centre half-back and it is great to have him back in action. After that there won’t be much change in the team from the last day against Cavan.
“There is a lot of competition in the squad now, especially up front, and that’s great. It was also good that Donal Ward and Niall Carty played for their clubs last weekend and that will strengthen us in defence too.
“It would be super if the U-21s could win the Connacht title on Saturday night. It would give the whole scene a great boost. It has been difficult to get everyone together on our panel because of the U-21 Championship and that’s understandable and hopefully they (the U-21s) will be in the championship for a few more weeks to come too.
“This is a match that we do not want to lose. We want to finish third on our own in the group and show that we were very close to promotion. In fact the two promoted teams beat us by a combined score of only four points so if we could win on Sunday it would end a very satisfactory campaign. We have one eye on the championship now and we will be looking for a good display and a win too” he concluded.
Des Newton says the team for Sunday will not be showing too many changes from the Cavan match. Geoffrey Claffey will lead from the goalkeeper’s position with Seanie McDermott, Neil Collins and Sean Purcell likely to man the full-back line. Ian Kilbride, Peter Domican and Cathal Dineen look odds-on to be included in the half-back line, Domican making a welcome return. Michael Finneran and Karol Mannion look likely to continue at midfield with Kevin Higgins staking a strong claim for a starting place there after a good display after coming on against Cavan two weeks ago.
David Keenan, Cathal Cregg and John Rogers should be on the half-forward line. Donie Shine is injured and will miss this game, but Senan Kilbride is likely to start at full-forward with Enda Kenny (if fit), David O’Gara, Conor Devanney, Brian Murtagh and Matt Scally all hoping for a starting place.
Sligo will also be without their U-21 contingent on Sunday. They defeated Offaly by 1-14 to 1-12 in Tullamore two weeks ago to secure their place in Division Three. They will be lining out with familiar names in their team – lads like Adrian Marren, Mark Breheny, Stephen Coen, Alan Costello, Tony Taylor, Johnny Davey, Noel McGuire, Ross Donovan and Colm McGee.
Sligo will be anxious to put in a good display on Sunday. Remember that Sligo travel to play New York in the Connacht Championship in three weeks’ time. This is a very hard game to call. Both sides would like to finish with a win. There will not be much in it at the final whistle. A draw perhaps?
Match odds: Sligo Evens v Roscommon Evens. Draw 7/1.
Prediction: A Draw.
Issue dated: 06 April 2012
© Roscommon People