Roscommon to continue trend and see Armagh off

Armagh have a curiously poor record in qualifiers against Connacht sides

Roscommon v Armagh (Dr Hyde Park, Saturday 5pm): The throatiest cheers outside of Armagh last Sunday would have been heard in Roscommon, free at last from the prospect of meeting Tyrone in the qualifiers for the fourth year running.

If they won’t exactly relish the prospect of Armagh coming down to the Hyde, they’re a whole lot better disposed to it than another dance with Mickey Harte’s side.

Armagh have a curiously poor record in qualifiers against Connacht sides. Their only win out west came last year when they walked through Leitrim and they’ve lost to Galway (twice) and Roscommon over the years.

They got mugged in the Hyde two seasons ago when despite leading comfortably enough at half-time, they lost the second half 1-6 to 0-2 with Donie Shine outstanding.

Shine is missing here, a cruciate pull in the Mayo ending his summer. But on the evidence of last weekend, Roscommon are managing reasonably well without him.

Cathal Cregg and Diarmuid Murtagh are kicking frees and Enda Smith was in sparkling form against Cavan with four points from play.

Armagh have lost bodies through an attritional summer, with Caolán and Ethan Rafferty definitely out, ditto Kieran Toner and now possibly Kevin Dyas as well.

Yet no player is as important now as their system – a blanket defence to break teams down, players getting forward from all angles to spread the scoring burden. They have their game face on too. But Ulster teams have consistently perished outside their own province so far this summer, which doesn't say much for the standard up there. Roscommon can continue the trend. Verdict: Roscommon

Malachy Clerkin

Malachy Clerkin

Malachy Clerkin is a sports writer with The Irish Times