A disappointing loss to Down, allied to a change in the league structure where there is no longer a semi-final stage and so only the top two finishers will fight it out for promotion, has left Roscommon with very little room for error in advance of Sunday’s clash with Kildare in Division Three of the Lidl LGFA League.
Michael Finneran’s side picked up two badly-needed points in Clones against Fermanagh on Sunday, but there will be a world of difference between the standard of the challenge offered by Kildare, and that posed by the Erne County, who will be happy just to avoid relegation this year.
Roscommon have enjoyed some good results against the Lily Whites in recent seasons, most notably in last year’s championship quarter-final clash at Kinnegad, but there has been a noticeable upturn in Kildare’s fortunes this year. They’ve kicked off their season with four wins from four starts, most recently edging out Leinster rivals Laois at Hawkfield.
Ballinasloe native Daniel Moynihan manages the group and he’s overseen some very difficult campaigns in his tenure. The bulk of the group that won the 2016 All-Ireland stepped away, leaving him with a very inexperienced group that suffered lots of narrow defeats.
This year he has welcomed back goalkeeper Mary Hulgraine and former captains Erica Burke and Roisin Byrne to the panel — three players that were central to that 2016 win and who have added much-needed experience to an otherwise raw group.
Younger players like Neasa Dooley and Lara Curran remain the most dangerous members of an attacking side that likes to carry the ball at speed as opposed to kicking long, and curtailing that running style will be crucial to Roscommon’s cause this week.
For that reason, Roscommon manager Michael Finneran could be forgiven for being happy to see the rain keep coming, as his side, though also youthful, has a bit more balance in their approach. Provided the game goes ahead on a field that is playable, but not too playable, Roscommon might scrape home.