Roscommon’s senior hurlers can lock down a league final place on Sunday if they overcome Tyrone at Dr. Hyde Park, and selector Adrian Murphy believes that discipline in the tackle will be key against the Red Hand men, due to the accuracy of Tyrone free-taker Damien Casey.
“We’ve conceded too many frees in the three games so far. Once again at the weekend, Armagh scored just 1-2 from play but they got nine frees. Damien is a phenomenal player. He rarely misses and anything up to 90 metres out is within his range. Keeping the free count down is going to be very important,” he stressed this week.
Murphy acknowledged that Tyrone have picked up a number of good results against Roscommon in recent years and that this will be drummed home to the players during the week.
“We definitely owe them one. There have been a good few tight games and too many that haven’t gone our way. We’ll be watching the injury list closely this week. There was nothing serious on Sunday (against Armagh) but it’s only after 24 hours that some knocks and niggles will show up.
“We still only had 18 lads available, and while a few lads like Peter Kellehan are getting back from injury, they haven’t the training done that they need to get up to speed yet. Naos Connaughton will still be out for another while as well after surgery, so it’ll be a while before we’ve got him back as well. We’re still working with a very tight crew right now,” he added.
Comfortable wins against Lancashire and Louth got Tyrone off to a solid start in this year’s league campaign but they were rocked on Sunday by Monaghan, who welcomed back all the Castleblayney hurlers that missed their clash with Roscommon due to their All-Ireland junior final appearance. Monaghan edged that game at Healy Park by 4-12 to 2-13 and can still force their way back into the reckoning if they end the year with two wins. But they’ll need favours from elsewhere if that’s to happen.
Roscommon can do them a big favour by picking up the points on Sunday and it’s impossible to overstate how important stopping Casey will be. In eight league games across 2018 and 2019 he’s averaging 13 points per game, nine from frees.
Forewarned is forearmed, and on the basis that Roscommon have been quite impressive defensively so far this year, they should be able to maintain their winning run on Sunday.