Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Rossies can push Tyrone all the way

All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Qualifers (Round 2): Roscommon v Tyrone (on Saturday in Dr Hyde Park at 2 pm)

Roscommon footballers clash with Tyrone for the second year in a row in the championship when the sides meet at Dr Hyde Park on Saturday in round two of this year’s qualifiers.

  Roscommon supporters will not need to be reminded that when the sides met last year in round four in Croke Park, Tyrone emerged as the easy winners, 3-19 to 1-14. However after an excellent win against Armagh in the first round two weeks ago, and with home advantage, Roscommon are very hopeful of a very good performance and maybe even another shock win.

  What a difference a win makes to any team. After the hammering against Galway things looked bleak for Roscommon. However, a surprise win against Armagh after an excellent second-half display, has changed everything and now confidence has returned to the Roscommon panel.

  Tyrone are certainly not the side that they have been in the past, nevertheless they still have some wonderful players including some of the men who have brought such glory to the county over the past ten years under Mickey Harte, who is still at the helm.

  I expect the Roscommon team to be much the same as that which lined out against Armagh two weeks ago. Geoffrey Claffey will man the goalkeeper’s position with Seanie Purcell, Niall Carty and Seanie McDermott in the full-back line. Niall Collins, Peter Domican and Ian Kilbride were the half-back line against Armagh and they played well throughout. There will not be too many changes in that line this weekend I suspect.

  The midfield partnership will be between three players. Cathal Shine played well against Armagh as did Karol Mannion. Michael Finneran came into the Armagh game after half-time and played really well, and is certainly a starting option for the selectors ahead of Sunday’s game.

  Niall Kilroy, Cathal Cregg and Niall Daly started against Armagh and they will hope to start again this weekend, while Donie Shine, Senan Kilbride and the impressive Colin Compton will most likely be the full-forward line. Ger Heneghan, Donal Ward, John Rogers, Donie Smith and several others will be hoping to see some action as the game progresses.

  The story from the Tyrone camp is mixed with regard to injuries. 2008 All-Star full-back Justin McMahon, who missed the Donegal game, is back in contention for a starting place after he took part in a trial game last weekend. However Ronan McNabb and Mickey Murphy have both been ruled out with injuries.

  Tyrone have been hit by a raft of long-term injuries this year, not least to Sean Kavanagh and whiz-kid Kyle Coney. There have been a number of retirements as well but, as stated above, the return of Justin McMahon will give Mickey Harte an extra option and the return of Brian McGuigan to the Tyrone team over the past few weeks is also a major plus for them.

  They can call on players of the calibre of Pascal McConnell in goal, Joe McMahon and Ryan McManamon in the full-back line and Conor Gormley, Peter Harte and Sean O’Neill in the half-back line.

  Justin McMahon and Collie Cavanagh are a likely midfield combination. Up front Stephen O’Neill will be at full-forward with Brian McGuigan leading the attack at centre half forward with Owen Mulligan and Martin Penrose also dangers in that sector.

  It is not a Tyrone team that are unbeatable, but they might just have enough experience and guile to forge a narrow win at Hyde Park. Roscommon fans will be looking to Donie Shine, Senan Kilbride and Cathal Cregg to engineer the scores for Roscommon and, as in every major game, the midfield exchanges will be crucial.

  I expect Roscommon to put up a huge performance and don’t rule out another shock win. But on form, and looking at both teams on paper, I am going for Tyrone to win it by two or three points.

Match odds: Roscommon 7/2 v Tyrone 2/7; Draw 9/1.

Prediction: Tyrone. 

Issue dated: 13 JULY 2012
© Roscommon People