SUNDAY 5 AUGUST
Croke Park, 3.30pm
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Past Championship meetings
2004 Dublin 1-14 Roscommon 0-13 (Round 4 qualifier)
1979 Dublin 0-14 Roscommon 1-10 (All-Ireland semi-final)
1912 Dublin 2-04 Roscommon 1-04 (All-Ireland semi-final)
1893 Dublin 1-09 Roscommon 1-01
While the fixture has an element of novelty to it, you can’t ignore the fact it is a dead rubber where the respective seasons are going in sharply contrasting directions.
The reigning All-Ireland champions are seamlessly moving into the last four after dispatching Donegal and putting paid to Tyrone’s challenge in Omagh last time out.
The Rossies on the other hand are playing for pride after a humbling at the hands of Tyrone and the disappointing home reversal to Donegal. A trip to Croke Park is probably the last thing Kevin McStay needed to conclude their Super8s campaign.
The game will mark just the fifth Championship meeting between the sides, with the Rossies yet to emerge victorious, though it has been a competitive fixture.
Current Dublin selector Jason Sherlock helped himself to 1-05 in the round four qualifier in 2004, the last time the sides crossed paths. The only other clash since World War Two was in 1979, a golden era in Roscommon football.
At the time they were the All-IrelandU21 champions, National League champions and had just completed three-in-a-row in Connacht. The likes of John 'Jigger' O'Connor, Dermot Earley and Tony McManus were household names, but Mick Hickey kicked his only point from play in the 32nd minute to break Roscommon hearts as Dublin edged into the All-Ireland Final by the bare minimum.
Few expect the 2018 meeting to be anywhere as close.
Jim Gavin’s side have averaged just under 2-20 a game in their five outings to date. At the other end, they have coughed up just one goal and points from play have been hard won by the opposition.
They haven’t hit anywhere near top gear in the Super 8s – Donegal were beaten by five points while Tyrone’s late rally saw the Red Hand lose by a goal – but have always kept their opponents at arm’s length.
With a six-day turnaround to the semi-final, the expected wholesale changes in personnel are unlikely, and even if Gavin does give fringe players a run out, they will be chomping at the bit to stake a claim for a starting berth the following weekend. Or even if to move up the pecking order within the squad.
While the last two games have been hugely disappointing for management, players and supporters alike, 2018 has been a year of progress. Qualifying for the Super 8s was a credible achievement, even if the route was easier coming from Connacht.
The qualifier win over Armagh was the high point of the season that also saw a comprehensive victory over Leitrim before pushing Galway all the way in the Connacht decider. The Tribesmen showed their added bit of composure and class to win with four points to spare, though the Super 8 defeats have been far more damaging.
The annihilation at the hands of Tyrone was something of a system’s failure and Donegal had too much guile last time. Kevin McStay said the performance was an improvement, but he cut a frustrated figure, clearly visible with his altercation with the linesman which sees the Mayo native watch on from the sideline as part of a 12-week ban.
Heading to Croke Park with question marks hanging over the full-back line is not the ideal scenario, and David Murray, Niall McInerney and John McManus are likely to face another stern examination at GAA headquarters.
Cathal Compton could offer a scoring threat from the middle of the pitch, but again the bulk of the scoring responsibility will lie with the Murtagh brothers. Diarmuid is the team’s top scorer with 0-23 (11 frees), followed next by wing-forward Ciarán.
The Rossies will need to get more out of Enda Smith, wherever he is deployed, but the Boyle man is more than capable of taking on any Dublin opponent.
The underdogs will need goalkeeper Colm Lavin and his out-field targets to have a much better day at the office to even remain competitive, while Brian Stack has shown he knows where the posts are once he is fed the right ball.
While an overall dry day is expected in the capital - a mix of sunshine and some cloudier spells – one or two light showers could make an appearance. Highest temperatures will range between 21-25 degrees. For more go to met.ie.
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