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Cunningham sees room for improvement







Roscommon manager Anthony Cunningham hailed his charges’ work rate following their convincing win over Leitrim at Dr. Hyde Park last Sunday.

  “We have been working really hard in training and the lads have given us a great response. We are delighted with the attitude of the players. We have 36 on the panel, 26 togged out today and only 15 can start. We are a work in progress and today is a stepping stone ahead of the next day.

  “There was added pressure on us today playing at home because there is an expectation to win but we had great respect for Leitrim. They had a great league campaign and they were very good in the Division Four final and we prepared very hard for today. But the experience that our players have gained over the winter and over the past few years stood to them today. This is a big step up and the next day (against Mayo) will be an even bigger step up but it is one we are really looking forward to,” he said.

  Roscommon’s three goals went a long way to ensuring a comfortable afternoon but Cunningham believes there’s still room for improvement ahead of the semi-final clash with Mayo in Castlebar.

  “The goals were vital. Our lads were powerful running forward and in fact we missed a few more goals. Our shooting wasn’t great in the first half to be honest. Our build-up play was good but our finishing has to improve. When we face the Mayo defence they will be so hard to get through and when you do get through you have to take your scores. We have massive respect for Mayo but we don’t fear them. We are going down there to win. It’s the championship and we want to win the next day,” he said.

  The Roscommon manager also provided an update on Enda Smith, who was a surprising absentee from Sunday’s quarter-final.

  “Enda Smith has a broken bone in his hand and he didn’t line out today but we are very hopeful that he will be Ok for the Mayo match. It was too big of a risk to play him today. We looked at a lot of players (off the bench) today and we need to give all the panellists we have and a chance. Hubert Darcy played for the first time today and we were very happy with him. There is huge pressure for places on the team and that’s the way we want it,” he concluded.

Rock set to run for GAA Presidency




The Roscommon People understands that Elphin GAA club man Mick Rock is to run for the Presidency of the GAA. An official announcement, however, will not be made until later in the year. It is believed that the former Connacht Council President has been thinking about the move for a number of months.

  Mick Rock has served a number of prominent roles for his club Elphin, at Roscommon County Board level and also at provincial level over the years and would be attempting to become the third Roscommon man to rise to the top position in the association following in the footsteps of Dan O’Rourke (1946-1949) and Dr. Donal Keenan (1973-1976). The new President-elect, who will succeed John Horan, will be chosen at the GAA Congress in the spring of 2020.


Buzzing Leitrim travel in hope – but Roscommon still strongly favoured





Connacht SFC Quarter-Final: Roscommon v Leitrim on Sunday at Dr. Hyde Park at 3.30 pm




When the draw for the 2019 Connacht Senior Football Championship was made last October there were groans of disappointment in Leitrim at the prospect of facing Roscommon in the championship once again. Over the past few seasons the Rossies have handed out fairly big beatings to their neighbours, and at the time of the draw that looked very likely to happen again.

  However, Terry Hyland came into Leitrim to manage the team, and now seven months later Leitrim are going to arrive in Dr. Hyde Park on Sunday with a spring in their step following their best league campaign in many years, which saw them promoted to Division Three.

  Meanwhile, Roscommon have been plying their trade in Division One but were disappointed to have been relegated after making a good start. The feeling in Leitrim is that they have a sporting chance of coming to Roscommon and causing an upset on Sunday. I don’t see it that way.

  The Roscommon management team of Anthony Cunningham, Iain Daly and Mark Dowd have been around the block and will not allow complacency to be an issue. While they had a poor ending to the league campaign, Roscommon have been boosted by the return to the panel of key players like Diarmuid Murtagh, John McManus, Brian Stack, Cian McKeon and Fintan Cregg. Suddenly Roscommon have options all over the field as they prepare to go into battle on Sunday.

  There are also new additions to the squad like Cathal Heneghan and Andy Glennon, while players like Gary Patterson, Conor Hussey and Aengus Lyons have stepped up to the mark.

  I presume that Conor and Ronan Daly will be in defence with Davy Murray and Sean Mullooly. Conor Hussey, Gary Patterson, Conor Devaney, John McManus and Brian Stack are all solid defensive options too. At midfield it looks like Tadhg O’Rourke and Niall Daly will be the starting combination with Shane Killoran and Enda Smith the other central options for the selectors.

  Up front, Enda and Donie Smith, Conor Cox, Diarmuid Murtagh, Killoran, Cathal Cregg, Fintan Cregg, Niall Kilroy and Cian McKeon are all in with starting chances. A full-forward line of Cox, Enda Smith and Diarmuid Murtagh looks a very strong one to me.

  Leitrim will come with confidence. Ryan O’Rourke is now their marquee attacker and is adept at scoring from play and frees. Emlyn Mulligan is not the player he was, but will still pose a threat. Michael McWeeney is an impressive defender and captain. Mark Plunkett, Raymond Mulvey and Dean McGovern are all fine players too, and make no mistake, Leitrim will have their tails up for this match.

  But looking at the game realistically, there can only be one result. Leitrim will put it up to Roscommon and it will not be the boring one-sided match that we have seen between these teams in recent years. I expect that Leitrim may even be in the game after 50 minutes or so, but Roscommon’s superior football skill and panel depth will come to the fore and will decide it in the end.

  I expect that this will be a competitive clash for two-thirds of the way before Roscommon pull away. Anything other than a five or six point win for the home side will be a surprise.

Prediction: Roscommon


Terrific Trill leads Galway to victory






Connacht LGFA Minor ‘A’ Championship Final


Galway 4-14

Roscommon 0-9




Roscommon’s dreams of breaking through at ‘A’ level in Connacht will have to wait another year as Ollie Colgan’s side were blown away by a very impressive Galway outfit at Enfield on Monday evening. Having beaten Mayo in the semi-final, hopes were high of another big win but Galway were simply too strong, too slick and too fast for a very game Roscommon team.

  The final margin does not do justice to the huge effort put in by Roscommon throughout and Galway goalkeeper Emma Glynn made three outstanding saves during the match to deny Roscommon goals they badly needed. But in truth the home side were second best on the day and there was no shame losing to such a fine team.

  In front of a big crowd and on a fine dry evening, Roscommon started well and had two points on the board after three minutes with Aimee O’Connor and Kelley Colgan (free) on target. But once Galway got motoring Roscommon were on the back foot, and it was 27 minutes before Roscommon scored again.

  In the 8th minute Megan Kelly was caught in possession in front of the Roscommon goal and Andrea Trill planted the ball in the net for Galway’s opening goal. With Trill, Aoife O’Rourke, Chloe Miskill and Ailish Morrissey devastating, it was one-way traffic. Kara Earle and Kelley Colgan had goal chances saved by the Galway goalkeeper Emma Glynn and by half-time it was Galway 1-9 Roscommon 0-3. Roscommon’s only other score coming from the boot of Oonagh Kelly in injury-time.

  The pattern was repeated on the restart with the visitors on top although they only had one point to show from the efforts in the opening ten minutes of the new half. Chloe Miskill drove home a great goal in the 40th minute and Andrea Trill blasted home another opportunist goal in the 45th minute.

  Oonagh Kelly kicked Roscommon’s only second half score in the 56th minute and Galway sub Ciara Murray sealed their big win with a fourth goal on the stroke of full-time.

  It was a chastening experience for Roscommon but in fairness to them they never stopped trying and they have plenty to look forward to in the All-Ireland ‘B’ championship when they take on Clare.

  After the match, a disappointed Roscommon manager Ollie Colgan admitted that Roscommon were beaten by the better side.

  “You have to hold your hands up after a defeat like that. They were much the better team. We missed a few goal chances and if we got a couple of them we might have done better and I don’t think the score line reflected the effort our girls put in.

  “I’m very proud of our girls. They are very disappointed there now. We had been matching Galway over the past couple of years but look, you will have days like that. Galway are a class team.

  “There is more football to be played. We are in a ‘B’ semi-final against Clare now. We told the girls to forget about this match and we will give them a few weeks off and we will go at it again,” he concluded.



Galway: Emma Glynn; Siobhan Fahy, Chelsie Crowe, Holly Reddington; Aoife Kilcommins, Kate Geraghty, Sophie Healy; Niamh McPeake (0-2), Laura Ahearne; Aoife O’Rourke (0-3), Chloe Miskill (1-1), Molly Hynes; Lorraine Meehan (0-1), Andrea Trill (2-4, 3 frees), Ailish Morrissey (0-3). Subs: Aoife Lynagh for Healy (51), Eimear Mitchell for Ahearne (55), Ciara Murray (1-0) for Hynes (58).

Roscommon: Sasha Lavin; Rachel Mulligan, Saoirse Wynne, Aisling Walsh; Emma Kildea, Megan Kelly, Kate Phillips; Sarah McVeigh, Kate Nolan; Megan McKeon, Kelley Colgan (0-1 free), Ellen Irwin; Aimee O’Connor (0-1), Oonagh Kelly (0-2,) Kara Earle. Subs: Sheena Kilroe for Earle and Kate Harrington for Walsh (both half-time), Jennifer Brennan for M Kelly (48), Miceala Keogh for Nolan, Maeve Brogan for McPhillips.


Referee: Gus Chapman (Sligo)

Captain Enda ready for battle




Roscommon captain Enda Smith says spirits are high in the camp and that the players have put the disappointing end to the Allianz League campaign behind them.

  “Preparations are going well. We took a couple of weeks off after the league campaign and we have been playing club matches too. The league ended disappointingly but playing the club games was great and we have been training hard with Roscommon too. We had to just park what happened in the league and look forward to the championship and the game against Leitrim”.

  Smith says that training has been intense over the last few weeks.

  “We trained on Tuesdays and Fridays and we had club matches on the Sunday and the lads are in great shape. I had a slight injury myself but that will be cleared up before the Leitrim game”.

  The Boyle man is wary of the challenge posed by a buoyant Leitirm.

  “Leitrim will come in with far more confidence this year. The last couple of years they were deflated after doing poorly in the league, but they have been very impressive this year. Terry Hyland had put a great shape on them and they are playing much better football. They will come to Dr. Hyde Park very confident but we have been playing at a high level and if can get our house in order we should be able to win.

  “Roscommon never carry the favourites’ tag too well. Our two worst performances in the league were against Cavan and Galway and they were two games that a lot of people were hoping we would do well in. But as a player you get confidence knowing that you have the hard work done and we have put in a lot of hard graft the past four or five weeks. We will be sorting out the tactical end of things now, and once all that work is done we would be confident. We will be working on a gameplan and once all that is done there will be no chance of complacency.

  “Leitrim always feel that they can give Roscommon a good game and this is no different. Their good league campaign has given them great confidence but as I said before if we have our house in order we should be able to win”.


Mc is back!



John McManus is delighted to have returned to the Roscommon panel.

  “I really missed it when I was gone but it was a decision I had to make in terms of my career. When Anthony called me back in it was impossible to turn it down and the people at work have been very supportive, which is great.

  “The panel is really competitive now. We are doing things differently and every manager has their own style but there is a big emphasis on strength and conditioning and you can see how a lot of the lads are much stronger.  

  “Leitrim will be stronger this year too after a good league campaign so we will have to be ready for them. I have been training hard in recent weeks and it was great to get a few club games under the belt. I was late into the panel so I am not expecting anything major in terms of the starting fifteen. Any minutes I get on the field at all I’ll be happy with as long as I can help the team to win.

  “Leitrim will bring a massive crowd and hopefully it will be a nice day and there will be a huge buzz in the Hyde so we are all really looking forward to it,” he concluded.

– SD


Terry's high hopes





Terry Hyland is a Cavan man through and through. Having spent four very successful years managing the Breffni U-21 footballers, he graduated to the senior team where he spent five years at the helm, presiding over promotion to Division One in the league and a number of very impressive performances in the ultra-competitive Ulster SFC.

  His appointment as the Leitrim manager last autumn was greeted warmly in the county and he set about his goal of making Leitrim competitive after a number of very poor seasons in both league and championship. Promotion from Division Four was his number one priority and he achieved that in style, his side only losing to eventual divisional champions Derry in the final group game and again to the same opposition in the Division Four final in Croke Park.

  Now Hyland and his charges face an even more daunting challenge, that of travelling to Dr. Hyde Park and beating old rivals Roscommon who have proven the nemesis of Leitrim so many times in recent years. But make no mistake, Hyland is fully convinced that his side are capable of defeating Roscommon this coming Sunday.

  “I don’t wish to sound cocky or anything like that but any game that you go into, you want to win it and this game is no different. You have to believe that you can win. Do I believe that we can beat Roscommon? Yes I do. Do I think it will be tough? Yes I do. It would be a big turn up for the books but I really believe that we can beat them,” he said.

  “We are very happy with the way we have been performing and this is a huge game for Leitrim and the players all know that they will need to perform to win it.

  “We need to play with confidence and back it up with ability and I think we have both those qualities in abundance. The league performances have given us confidence and we can kick on from there against Roscommon.

  “The buzz in our camp is good, and the buzz in the county is good too. We have concentrated on the mental attitude of the players as much as anything else. We haven’t performed any miracle or anything like that, it’s just giving players’ belief. In any dressing room you see the players from the various clubs sitting together and that’s natural, but we changed that and ensured that they mixed better and made sure the lads on the panel got to know each other.

  “This is a huge local derby and even living in Cavan I never realised it was so big. We used to play Monaghan and Fermanagh and those were big games and this is just as big for the people involved. Look, I am due to get one over on Roscommon at this stage so why not in this game?” (Laughs).



Cunningham expects a tough test



Roscommon manager Anthony Cunningham is expecting a very tough game when his team meet neighbours Leitrim on Sunday.

  Speaking to People Sport, he said: “Our primary goal this year is to improve our performances from the league. It’s good to have lads like Brian Stack, Fintan Cregg, Diarmuid Murtagh and John McManus back on the panel. They are all experienced players and a big help to us.

  “Competition for places on the team is very keen at the moment and that’s how we like to have it. No-one wants to be left out of the first fifteen”.

  Cunningham has observed Leitrim’s progress with keen interest.

  “Terry Hyland has come into Leitrim and has done a fine job and there is a huge wave of enthusiasm in the county as a result. They have to be admired for the way they have gone about their business. They will be a very tough proposition for us in Dr. Hyde Park. Our sole focus is on that Leitrim game. I am really looking forward to it and I can’t wait to get going.

  “If you looked at the Division Four final there wasn’t much between the teams, and Leitrim played some great stuff so we know for certain that this is going to be a very hard game”.

Seamus Duke on sport - May 10th





Rossies back in action this weekend

Is it me, or does the championship seem to come around faster every year? We are back in the thick of it on Sunday in Dr. Hyde Park and the game against Leitrim is previewed in detail elsewhere in the paper this week. I am expecting a spirited challenge from Leitrim but I am expecting a comfortable win for Roscommon.

  The Roscommon hurlers are playing this weekend too and they face a huge task against Kildare who hammered them last year in Newbridge. I was there that day and it was one of the heaviest defeats that I have seen in the many years that I have been covering Roscommon hurlers. But as the song says: ‘The only way is up!’ and I have been impressed with how Ciaran Comerford has gone about his business this year, quietly and under the radar. I know that the players have worked hard and a good league campaign will give them confidence. It’s probably too much to expect them to win against Kildare but watch out for a big improvement.

  It’s a pity that the game is not being played in Dr. Hyde Park on Sunday. Athleague may be the home of Roscommon hurling but fixing the game there with a throw-in time of 12.45 pm will ensure a very small attendance. Good luck to all concerned.

Racing returns to Lenebane

Roscommon Races are back on Monday for another season and this year they will unveil their magnificent new facilities, which include new changing rooms and a sauna, new press facilities, first aid room and a new secretary’s office. There is hardly a year that goes by that Roscommon have not upgraded their facilities and Michael Finneran has done a marvellous job there as manager. He deserves huge praise for his hard work at the track over the years and hopefully it will be another very successful year at Lenebane.

Connacht championship up and running

The matches for Mayo and Galway last weekend  in the Connacht championship were all about winning and both did so, and will now move on.

  Galway were poor against London but Kevin Walsh will be happy with the win and with another fairly easy match coming up against Sligo, the Tribesmen can prepare for a Connacht final.

  Mayo were never out of second gear as they hammered New York and they are spending a week out in the Catskill Mountains on a training camp ahead of tougher tests down the road.

  One can only marvel at the level of support that Mayo footballers have. Everyone saw the video clips of thousands of Mayo supporters singing and dancing in Times Square last Saturday and if Roscommon are able to beat Leitrim on Sunday there will be at least 25,000 people at the Mayo v Rossies clash on May 25th and 20,000 of them will be supporting Mayo. It seems that their support base is growing all the time which is phenomenal.

Title race goes right to the wire!

The Premier League title race is going right down to the wire and after weeks of predicting that there would be a twist in the tail of the season, it’s looking very much like Manchester City will nick it at the death. When Divock Origi scored that late goal for Liverpool on Saturday night against Newcastle I thought that Liverpool’s name was on the trophy. But just as Manchester City looked like they were going to slip up against Leicester City up comes Vincent Kompany with a contender for goal of the season on Monday night.

  On Sunday next Liverpool should beat Wolves at Anfield but City should be far too good for Brighton. It’s unlikely we will see any shock result. If that happens Liverpool will have gathered an amazing 97 points and not won the title. Liverpool and City have been miles ahead of the rest this season and they will be even stronger next season.

  As for Manchester United, they are going from one crisis to another. It could be many years before they are contenders again. I am happy with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as manager. At least he has respect for the club and the people who follow them. Mourinho had respect for no one except himself.

Irish women to the fore

The annual Byron Nelson Championship this weekend on the PGA Tour will see a lot of the big guns in action as it is only one week ahead of the second major of the year, the PGA Championship, which this year will be held at Bethpage in New York.

  Tiger Woods is not playing this weekend and he will go straight to the PGA and play on a course that he has won the US Open on in the past. 

  In women’s golf Stephanie Meadow and Leona Maguire have both qualified to play in the forthcoming US Open which is huge for them. Maguire is steadily making her way to the top of the sport and it is only a matter of time before the County Cavan woman is competing for the top prizes in the professional game.

Note: An article about the late Eugene McGee can be seen in the Straight Talking Column this week.

Championship Watch

Leinster SFC Round One

Wicklow v Kildare in Aughrim on Saturday at 7 pm

Wicklow have had a poor league campaign and can have no lofty ambitions about this game never mind the Leinster Championship. Kildare are a notch or two below a top eight side but they will be far too strong for John Evans’ men. Prediction: Kildare

Wexford v Louth at Wexford Park on Sunday at 3 pm

Not a tie to set the pulses racing. Louth had a reasonable league campaign and only narrowly missed out on promotion from Division Three. Wexford have slipped down the rankings. Louth might just have enough.

Prediction: Louth

Meath v Offaly on Sunday in Navan at 3 pm

Meath are on a high after promotion to Division One and are definitely improving. John Maughan will be hoping that his side can keep the margin to a respectable level. I just hope that it’s not too one-sided.

Prediction: Meath

Munster SFC Quarter-Finals

Tipperary v Limerick in Thurles on Saturday at 7 pm

Tipperary have not been as impressive this year as they have been for the past four or five. Nevertheless, Liam Kerins’ charges should be too good for Limerick. Prediction: Tipperary

Clare v Waterford in Ennis on Saturday at 7 pm

No record breaking crowd expected in Ennis for this one. Clare are a very solid outfit under Colm Collins and it would be more than a surprise if they don’t prevail here.

Prediction: Clare

Ulster SFC Preliminary Round

Tyrone v Derry in Omagh on Sunday at 4 pm

Only a few short years ago this would have been the game of the day in the football championship. But with Tyrone looking a very good side and genuine All-Ireland contenders, it will be easy for them at home.

Prediction: Tyrone

Leinster SHC Round One

Kilkenny v Dublin in Nowlan Park on Saturday at 7 pm

Now this should be interesting. Kilkenny are short a few vital players through injury. Mattie Kenny seems to be getting a nice tune out of this Dublin team. This could be a cracking game settled by home advantage. Kilkenny by two or three points.

Prediction: Kilkenny

Galway v Carlow in Pearse Stadium on Sunday at 3 pm

Prediction: Galway

Munster SHC Round One

Waterford v Clare in Waterford on Sunday at 2 pm

If the Munster championship is half as good last last year’s then we are all in for a treat. Fasten your seatbelts folks the roller coaster-ride begins here. I have a suspicion that Clare will be a dark horse this summer. Prediction: Clare

Cork v Tipperary in Pairc Ui Caoimh on Sunday at 4 pm

Assuming that they have looked after the pitch, this promises to be another thriller. Tipp are under pressure to perform under Liam Sheedy. Cork were probably the unlucky team in last year’s championship. They can start with a win on home soil.

Prediction: Cork

Connacht SFC Quarter-Final

Roscommon v Leitrim in Dr. Hyde Park on Sunday at 3.30 pm

Comprehensive preview elsewhere in our sports section.

Prediction: Roscommon


Dooner's weekend predictions - May 10th




Ballymoe FC upset the odds last weekend with a very impressive 3-2 win in the semi-finals of the Premier Division Cup to wreck any hopes St. Peter’s FC had of claiming back-to-back trebles. Ballymoe will now face Ballinasloe Town in the final of that competition.

  Elsewhere, Dunmore Town maintained their Division One status with a hard-fought 3-2 win over Ahascragh United after extra-time. Ahascragh will now face Roscommon United next weekend with the winners playing in Division One next season.

  Finally, St. John’s Athletic will play CP Ajax this weekend for a place in the Division One Cup Final following their 2-0 win away to Ballinasloe Town B last weekend.


Friday, May 10th

Topline Ward’s Division Two Cup Semi-Final

Glen Celtic v Cloonfad United B. 8 pm           

Celtic to progress.

Prediction: Glen Celtic

Norio’s Takeaway Division One/Killeen Sportsgrounds Division Two Promotion/Relegation Play-off

At Lecarrow: Ahascragh United v Roscommon United. 8 pm

Momentum is vital…as we saw on Tuesday night at Anfield.

Prediction: Roscommon United           


Saturday, May 11th

Joe’s Bar RDFL Challenge Cup Semi-Final

At Lecarrow: Boyle Celtic v Moore United. 7.30 pm

Boyle will be favourites to progress to the final but Moore are certainly no pushovers.

Prediction: Boyle Celtic


Sunday, May 12th

Hanly Quarries Premier Division Cup Final

At Lecarrow: Ballymoe FC v Ballinasloe Town. 12 pm

A very difficult one to call. Ballymoe will be full of confidence and it will take a very good Ballinasloe performance to beat them.

Prediction: Ballinasloe Town


Norio’s Takeaway Division One Cup Semi-Finals (11 am)

Ballaghaderreen FC v Moylough ’79

Moylough to go through.

Prediction: Moylough ‘79

St. John’s Athletic v CP Ajax           

This is one that could go either way. St. John’s to edge it based on recent form.

Prediction: St. John’s Athletic


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