Watch out – the Rossies are coming

ROSCOMMON SUPPORTERS: Love them or loathe them, you can't ignore them.

ROSCOMMON SUPPORTERS: Love them or loathe them, you can't ignore them and they'll be out in force on Saturday.

THE pivotal game in the Connacht Under 21 championship this year is likely to be Saturday’s clash between Mayo and Roscommon in Charlestown. While the winners of Sligo and Leitrim in the other semi-final will put it up to Mayo or Roscommon, its hard to imagine the winners of Saturday’s game not being favourites to win the competition out.

Roscommon go into the game three years on from their historic minor All-Ireland success in ’06 while we’ll be looking for our fourth Connacht title in a row, which would have to rank as an incredible achievement for Messrs Holmes, Connelly and Collins.

We’ve already discussed our team in our preview and review of the Galway game so we won’t dwell too long on our end of things here.

Kevin McLoughlin, who won last week’s Man of the Match, appears to have done so at a cost. A groin injury prevented him travelling to Kerry for the following day’s league  game and there’s still nothing certain about his appearance this coming Saturday.

His loss would be a pronounced one as he was exceptional at left-half back. That a player of the  calibre of Claremorris’ Sean Prendergast would be on hand to fill in softens the blow somewhat (when are we ever short of wing-backs?) but needless to say McLoughlin making the cut would be an undoubted boon.

After that the same team is likely to line out, with Ray Geraghty the only sub’ to appear against Galway and that was only a means to waste time in second half injury-time.

So we’d expect the same fifteen to line out, McLoughlin’s injury worry notwithstanding, but how are they faring out across the border? Well the minor success of three years ago, allied with the Rossies remarkable ability to keep so many of that panel involved, means they will be favourites on Saturday.

Of the players who played in the Minor final and replay against Kerry, an incredible fourteen lined out for Michael Ryan’s side earlier this year in their Hastings Cup final triumph against Leitrim in January. A fifteenth, David Keenan, one of their key men, was rested that day. Contrast that to the Mayo team who lost the 2006 Connacht Minor final to that Roscommon team and only four (Frank Burke, Tom Parsons, Kevin McLoughlin and Mikey Sweeney) featured last week against Galway.

There are a number of ways at looking at those figures – you could say Mayo have managed to unearth a lot more footballers in the interim – but that Roscommon team was the very essence of a team and it was that more so than any outstanding individuals that delivered them their All-Ireland.

That they are still so together means they have developed as a group and should be a much better oiled unit than ourselves. Those who remember Roscommon’s magical run to the All-Ireland in 2006 will remember how they were practically down and out in the  drawn All-Ireland final against Kerry before securing the unlikliest of draws (we were there that day, remember?)

Their performance is the replay had a real Carpe Diem about it as Roscommon’s hunger simply overpowered Kerry for one of the most romantic All-Ireland victories in recent years. Normally we don’t have much time for our neighbours but TIALTNGO was moved by that victory in Ennis and the undoubted joy it brought to so many people. Scenes like this youtube clip (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oDOPibkfRNI&feature=related) give you a feel for it.

HEADY DAYS: Roscommon Minor captain David Flynn lifts the Tom Markham Cup after their All-Ireland success in 2006.

HEADY DAYS: Roscommon Minor captain David Flynn lifts the Tom Markham Cup after their All-Ireland success in 2006.

It has Willie Hegarty’s Shannonside commentary with analyst Seamus Duke crying like a baby before describing the day as ‘the greatest of his life’! Hope the wife wasn’t listening. Even the usually composed Fergie O’Donnell curses live on national TV. It gave me a window into what it will be like when we triumph on a September day at senior level.

But that’s enough wistfulness. We know from those scenes of 2006, and the subsequent elevation of many to the senior grade since, that the Rossies will be formiddable foes. Unlike us they have a serious free-taker in Donal Shine who would probably be considered their best player. David Flynn, Peter Domican and James McKeague will be key men in defence while Roscommon.

David Keenan, who doesn’t have the look of a classy footballer, but is very effective, will probably line out in midfield. Donal Shine may play alongside him or in the half-forward line.

Like Shine guys like Kevin Higgins, the tricky Conor Devaney, Fintan Cregg, David O’Gara and Alan O’Hara all know where the posts are while younger players like Cathal Shine (brother of Donal) and Neil Collins have come on stream to augment the ’06 minors.

The Rossies are travelling west in confidence and its a a real confidence, not a misguided one. This could be a humdinger. Mayo will need to be at their best and will certainly need to be more efficient in front of goal and need a greater return from the inside line. We have a team well able for a battle though.

TIALTNGO gives a hopeful, but not expectant, nod to the hosts.

Throw-in in Charlestown is at 2.30pm on Saturday, and rugby or no rugby, get there and support Mayo, we don’t want the Rossies outnumbering us on our home patch!

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1 Response to “Watch out – the Rossies are coming”



  1. 1 Rossies up for border raid « No one shouted Stop! Trackback on March 20, 2009 at 1:40 pm

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