Roscommon and Clare meet with vastly different momentum
Clare’s strength is midfield, an area where Roscommon have struggled badly this year
Roscommon’s Cathal Cregg and Ciaran Murtagh dejected after the Connacht final defeat. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho
All-Ireland SF Qualifiers
Round Four A
Although two divisions separated the counties’ league seasons, summer transactions have qualified that differential, as the teams come into this with vastly different momentum.
Roscommon went from being seen to have a good shot at the Connacht title to road-kill after Galway went through them in Castlebar whereas Clare dusted themselves down after a big beating by Kerry and produced creditable wins against Laois and away to Sligo.
The demeanour of Colm Collins was in contrast to his Roscommon counterparts Kevin McStay and Fergal O’Donnell, who must have been shell shocked at the failure to get to grips with the match at any stage.
There has been apparent acceptance by Roscommon that they threw huge energy into doing as well as possible in the league and having done that they have been fitful in the championship.
Unfortunately for them Clare’s most obvious strength in overhauling Sligo last week was centrefield where Gary Brennan and Cathal O’Connor - a sector which has been a conspicuous weakness for Roscommon. Throw in the six-day turnaround and it’s clear that the Connacht side will be under pressure.
There is however no cause for panic. Roscommon demonstrated during the league that they have scoring potential even if there’s a world of difference between February and July. Even on a direct comparison with Sligo, against whom both sides mounted second half recoveries Clare delivered a nine-point turnaround whereas Roscommon’s was 17.
The Connacht finalists need to play a more orthodox game even though the injury to Neil Collins has made cautious about protecting the full-back line but the evidence of both Connacht finals is that they need to play to their attacking strength.
They also have the advantage of having played the venue the week before last and although Clare’s forwards were also impressive in Sligo, Roscommon have the tools to achieve this - assuming they’ve managed to address the morale issues after last week.
Previously: Clare and Roscommon have never previously played each other in championship.
You bet: Roscommon are 8/13 with Clare 7/4 and the draw at 8/1.
Just the ticket: Stand €20, juveniles €5 and concessions available for senior citizens and students.