Rossies To Plunder The Orchard At Dr. Hyde Park?
Roscommon v Armagh
It’s little wonder that Sky have chosen this qualifier this weekend.
It really promises to be absorbing viewing, though ‘open’ and ‘high-scoring’ are not adjectives likely to feature in the match reviews. It’s also odds-on that there’ll be a bit of a scuffle…Armagh seem surlier than an ousted cabinet minister recently.
Roscommon’s form has been solid in a season that saw them power to the Division 3 title. Their display in the league final in Croke Park against Cavan, who were unbeaten until that game, showed a united and determined squad as they held on for a two point win.
They cruised to a comfy eight point win over neighbours Leitrim in their championship opener. Against Mayo, they were three points to the good with ten to go, but a single point in the last ten wasn’t enough to see them home.
They backed up the promise of that performance with a 0-16 to 0-5 obliteration of Cavan in Breffni Park.
Armagh’s league had less highlights than an Ed Byrne comedy special, but their championship has restored pride in the Armagh jersey.
They outmuscled (easy now!) Cavan in a revenge mission that saw tempers fray before the teams even lined up. Monaghan eventually saw them off in a replay, but, to their huge credit, they regrouped and lifted it to see off Tyrone last weekend.
Last weekend’s performance showed immense belief to go up to Omagh and see off their nemesis. How will McGeeney get them fired up for Roscommon? Armagh to Roscommon is too far to suggest the Primrose and Blue stole their ancestors’ sheep.
The infusion of their Under-21 players, Enda Smith and Diarmuid Murtagh in particular, mean the over-reliance on Senan Kilbride is absent.
Kilbride was held scoreless in Breffni while Smith and Murtagh notched up 0-4 and 0-5 respectively.
Armagh are likely to start with the same 15 as in Omagh, though Aaron Kernan must be in line for a starting role.
Head to Head
This is a repeat of the 2012 round 1 qualifier that saw the home side, Roscommon, overcome a five point half-time deficit to win by two.
Not suggesting that it’s a tactic, but against Cavan and Tyrone a bit of a dust-up did Armagh no harm at all. There was little to be gained by trying to arm wrestle with a battle-hardened outfit like Monaghan, but how a side like Roscommon, with their under-21 contingent, react could be vital.
So forget the individual match-ups, how Roscommon react collectively to Armagh’s ‘physicality’ is the key.
Neither side have been overly free-scoring thus far. Ros have hit 1-18, 1-9 and 0-15 in their championship games for an average of 16 points per game. Armagh hit 1-12, 0-14, 1-13 and 0-13 for an average of 14 points per game.
With both sides playing a similar game whereby they flood their defence and try break at speed, a close low-scoring clash is in prospect. The Hyde isn’t a pitch that lends itself to high totals.
Taking a line through their Cavan games, form would suggest that Roscommon should be favourites. That it’s at home should also help the Connacht men who have top class performers up front in the aforementioned Enda Smith and Murtagh, and also Kilbride and Cathal Cregg.
If big Cathal Shine and Kevin Higgins can hold their own at midfield then Roscommon can win this one. Armagh, for all their improvement, are over-reliant on Jamie Clarke up front.