Armagh another step along the northern way for Roscommon
John Evans wary of opponents who have improved dramatically in the championship
Roscommon manager John Evans: “We’ll need to be better than we were against Cavan because we’re playing a better team.” Photo: Andrew Paton/Inpho
Since then the county has played five qualifiers matches – as well as being Connacht champions in 2010 – winning two and losing three.
The good news about tomorrow’s clash with Armagh at Hyde Park is that at least it’s not against Tyrone, who eliminated Roscommon from the last three championships.
Last Saturday’s crushing win against Cavan, the county against whom they had been underdogs in this season’s league Division Three final, was further confirmation that John Evans’s team have been developing quickly this year. The manager is however sparing in his analysis of the benefits.
“It was a big win but I suppose we were taken aback that we put up such a score against Cavan and they didn’t put up more of a score. But we were delighted the way we kicked on in bad conditions.”
On the face of it, the fact that Armagh achieved a first win in nine years against Tyrone is doubly good news, as when the counties met two years ago, Roscommon came out on top.
Evans still has too much of Kerry about him to hand any easy motivation to this weekend’s opponents.
“There’s only five or six players left (from the 2012 match). There’s a change of management, a total change of personnel – very little to draw on that. There are a couple of important common denominators, like Jamie Clarke, Ciarán McKeever and a couple of others.
Armagh’s matches against Cavan and Tyrone have been marked by unruly scenes. Asked is he apprehensive about the physical aspects of the coming contest, Evans sidesteps.
“I’m not apprehensive but I suppose our team has been growing, evolving; it’s still a young team, though and we’ll need to be better than we were against Cavan because we’re playing a better team.”
Roscommon’s evolution this year has seen them secure the Division Three title and with it, promotion – with Armagh passing them from the other direction – as well as posting a much improved championship display against holders Mayo.
Evans expects to have no injury problems when picking the team, which won’t be released until before the throw-in.
“I was concerned about David Keenan who was complaining of impaired vision, which is why we took him off at half-time, and there was a couple of dead legs and calves and that but they all seem to be coming along great and I would be hoping that we’ll be picking from a full deck. A full team.”