Friday 18 January 2019

Rising Rossies expected to advance

IF Leitrim were to do the unthinkable and scalp Roscommon tomorrow and then go on to beat Mayo or Galway in the Connacht final, it would mean that each of the five 'native' Eastern province counties have won the title in succession.

Whether that reflects the level of competitiveness or the lack of a standout team is another matter but Leitrim only have to look across at their near neighbours and tomorrow's opponents for inspiration as they battle the odds.

No one, but no one, fancied the Rossies to go all the way in Connacht last year but here they are coming to Carrick-On-Shannon for a local derby as champions. Both managers stick with the teams that brought them success in the first round.

For Leitrim, it has been noted that the return to fitness of the jinxed Emlyn Mulligan has rekindled a creative spark to their attack and while that may be true, it's also worth noting that seven different players scored against Sligo in their shock first-round win.

Roscommon, though, are on the rise. They might not have covered themselves in glory in the Division 4 final or, for that matter, their win over New York in the Connacht championship, but they are likely to be an improved version of last year's team in time for the 'real football'.

This fixture isn't one of the more celebrated local GAA rivalries, but sparks are expected to fly and Roscommon will be expected to progress.

ODDS: Leitrim 5/2, Draw 15/2, Roscommon 2/5

VERDICT: Roscommon

LEITRIM: C McCrann; D Reynolds, R Gallagher, P Maguire; B Prior, G Reynolds, W McKeon, T Beirne, D Lowe; P Brennan, E Mulligan, R Lowe; A Croal, C Beirne, J Glancy.

ROSCOMMON: G Claffey; S McDermott, P Domican, N Carty; I Kilbride, D Keenan, D Ward; M Finneran, K Mannion; S O'Grady, K Higgins, C Cregg; C Devanney, S Kilbride, D Shine.

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