/ GAA

Underdogs Roscommon likely to come up short in Dr Hyde Park

Updated: Friday, 18 May 2012 17:38 | Comments

Galway should have at least one new supporter cheering for them against Roscommon
Galway should have at least one new supporter cheering for them against Roscommon

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In encounters between the sides in the Connacht Championship, Galway have a distinct advantage over Roscommon but in terms of the bigger picture, the Tribesmen have been going through a rather lean patch.

In a golden period between 1998 and 2005, they lifted the Nestor Cup five times (1998, 2000, 2002, 2003 & 2005), going all the way to All-Ireland success twice in that period (1998 & 2001).

But the team that provided such swashbuckling football around the turn of the millennium has inevitably aged and finding adequate replacement was never going to be straightforward.

Their Connacht challenge lasted only one game in 2011, when they were well beaten by subsequent champions Mayo, while a year earlier it was Sligo who knocked them out at the same stage.

Right now, Galway seek to set the foundation for future success and, while they are not yet at a level that suggests they'll be making an impact in the latter stages of the championship, there are grounds for optimism.

In Division Two of the Allianz National Football league they finished a fine third behind two counties, Tyrone and Kildare, with notions of All-Ireland success in September.

March's defeat to Westmeath was, perhaps, the most disappointing result of the league campaign but they were a single pointed effort from defeating Kildare in the final game of the group stage – a result that would have earned a place in the Division 2 final and secured a spot in the top division for 2013.

It wasn't to be, but the building blocks are there and a trip to Hyde Park to take on Roscommon is an opportunity to prove that they are a team making strides.

In a 2011 Connacht championship decider played in desperate conditions, Roscommon just failed to hold off a determined Mayo side, but a subsequent heavy defeat at the hands of Tyrone showed where they stood in the grander scheme.

The Rossies, whose minor side took the All-Ireland title in 2006 and whose U21 side were beaten by Dublin in this year's final, have emerging talents but the seniors have something to prove after finishing fourth in division three of the National League.

However, they won all three of their home games quite comprehensively, beating Tipperary, Cavan and Antrim, whereas an away win against Offaly proved their only success on the road.

The depth of quality of division three is, as one would expect, significantly below that of division two and thus Galway are deserving favourites to qualify for a semi-final meeting with Sligo.

But the bookmakers make them very strong favourites and that might underestimate Roscommon's home advantage. It will be closer than the market might suggest but marginal preference is for the visitors.

Verdict: Galway

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