Cavan’s game to win but without any urgency

Roscommon come in to Division Three final without some big guns

Cavan’s Eugene Keating has fully recovered from injury. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Cavan’s Eugene Keating has fully recovered from injury. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho


Division Three has been a bit of a wash-out this year, so maybe it’s appropriate that the final doesn’t look like being the most keenly-contested affair you ever came across either.

Both these teams were promoted before St Patrick’s Day so they haven’t had a great deal to get excited about at senior level in the five weeks since.

Both have filled their time by concentrating on their under-21 sides and it’s perfectly feasible that, with a more kindly referee in Portlaoise last Saturday, Cavan would be joining Roscommon in an All-Ireland final next weekend. (Of course, there are plenty in Cork who would argue something similar but let’s not get bogged down, eh?)

The upshot is that this final is seen as a bit of an afterthought in both counties. Roscommon aren’t calling on any of their under-21s and in fact John Evans has said that he’s only bringing 22 players with him on the bus and that all but one of them will get a run. The Rossies have three dates on the horizon – today, next Saturday and three weeks hence in the Hyde against Leitrim. Of the three, this is by a distance the least important.

Cavan come to Croker with the most miserly defence in the country – they’ve conceded just one goal in seven games – and Terry Hyland has picked a strong forward line. Eugene Keating has fully recovered, as has midfielder Gearóid McKiernan. They have no particular injury worries and although they haven’t named any of their under-21s to start, Michael Argue, Killian Clarke and Dara McVeety are all on hand if needed.

It’s not that Roscommon will take a dive here, just that their attention is elsewhere and the team they’ve named is four and possibly even five or six short of what it will be in the Connacht Championship.
Verdict: Cavan

C Gilsenan; J Hayes, R Dunne, F Flanagan; J McEnroe, A Clarke, D O’Reilly; G McKiernan, K Brady; C Mackey, N McDermott, M Reilly; J Brady, M Dunne, E Keating
ROSCOMMON: D O’Malley; S McDermott, N Carty, N Collins; D Keenan, N Daly, C Cafferkey; C Shine, K Higgins; D O’Gara, D Shine, D Donnelly; S Kilbride, C Cregg, C Murtagh
Referee: Sean Hurson (Tyrone).

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