Allianz National Football League Division 2 Final: Roscommon v Cavan
Déjà vú! Forget Galway and Mayo, Cavan are the county that Roscommon have played against as much if not more than anyone else in the past five years and it seems our fate is inextricably linked with the Breffni men.
Both sides were went down together last year following their relegation from Division One and now both will return to the top table ahead of spring 2019.
In 2014 both counties also gained promotion, albeit from Division 3, with the Rossies getting the better of the Breffni in that year’s final at Croke Park.
While it would obviously be nice to sign off from the league campaign with some silverware, defeat wouldn’t be the end of the world with promotion already secured.
Kevin McStay and his charges would like to banish the unhappy memories of their last visit to Croke Park however, when they were well beaten by Mayo in an All-Ireland Quarter-Final replay. A win this Sunday would go some way to doing that.
This is also one last opportunity for some Roscommon players to impress ahead of a Connacht Championship defence and from that point of view Sunday’s final contains a few interesting sub-plots.
It will be interesting to see if Colm Lavin or James Featherston gets the nod while Peter Domican and Davy Murray will be hoping to nail down defensive slots. Ultan Harney was a revelation at centre half-back on Sunday and it will be interesting to see if he gets another run-out there. At midfield, Cathal Compton is improving and I would like to see Conor Daly partner him.
Up front there is an embarrassment of riches and the bench is a measure of the very strong squad that Roscommon are building.
Having said all that, Cavan would love to set the record straight against Roscommon and a win this Sunday would be the perfect way for them to round off a very good league campaign under Tyrone man Mattie McGleenan.
As I have alluded to before, McGleenan has taken a while to make his presence felt in Cavan but the football public are behind him now, and promotion in his first year in charge is impressive indeed. He has them playing a much more expansive running game and they have several very good players.
Gearoid McKiernan is the Cavan inspiration and he can operate anywhere between 8 and 14. Padraig Faulkner is a mobile and impressive full-back and Killian Clarke is very effective around the middle, while team captain Dara McVeety and Caoimhin O’Reilly look very competent attackers. It will be interesting to see if McGleenan will pick talented veteran Cian Mackey from the start. The Castlerahan man looked very good when introduced in Dr Hyde Park a few weeks ago. He still has plenty to offer.
I am really looking forward to this Easter Sunday clash. Both teams will be eager to win and with promotion already in the bag it will be a chance to cast away the chains and have a go. I am not expecting kamikaze attacking football but it is reasonable to expect a high-scoring and very competitive game. If Roscommon can limit their tendency to fall asleep for periods they can put up a match-winning score.
Taking league silverware back down the motorway would be a nice way to sign off. Roscommon are well capable of doing it.
Déjà vu with the Breffni blues
2014 Division 3 Final in Croke Park: Roscommon 1-17 Cavan 0-18
In 2014 Roscommon and Cavan met in the Allianz League Division 3 Final in Croke Park and after another very tight game Roscommon won by 1-17 to 0-18. Tarmonbarry man David Keenan scored a spectacular goal two minutes before half-time but Cavan still led by two points at the break, 0-9 to 1-5.
It was score for score in the second half but with Donie Shine and Senan Kilbride on song from play and frees, John Evans’ men took the title.
It is interesting to note how many changes that there have been on the Roscommon team in just four years.