‘Roscommon will make things tough for Connacht challengers’

John Casey would love to see Evan Regan in a Mayo jersey in the championship. Photo: Sportsfile.

John Casey would love to see Evan Regan in a Mayo jersey in the championship. Photo: Sportsfile.

I was on duty for Radio One sport last Sunday, alongside Donegal’s Martin McHugh and host Darren Frehill.

It was my first time on duty for a game that Mayo were not involved in and I have to say, it was a somewhat surreal experience as the media and press area in Croke Park is normally full of familiar faces from the local media here in Mayo, but not last Sunday.

As soon as I walked in at the spritely time of 12.15, I was greeted with a ‘what’s a Mayo man doing here today?’ To which I replied, “To see are we good enough to beat Dublin in the All-Ireland.”

It did cause a bit of a laugh.

The Division 1 and 2 League finals gave us plenty of food for thought for very different reasons. Roscommon showed us what we may potentially face in Castlebar in a Connacht final, while the Dubs scared the life out of the rest of Ireland and showed us what may lie ahead at the penultimate stage of the All-Ireland series.

There is no doubt Roscommon are going to make things tough for whoever they face in Connacht and beyond this year.

They have achieved successive promotions from Division 3, at the same time winning the Division 3 and 2 League titles respectively.

They were superb against Down last Sunday, winning convincingly and deservedly. The match day programme last Sunday had Senan Kilbride as ‘one to watch’ so whoever decided on that piece of programme filler deserves the plaudits as Kilbride tore the Down defence apart.

I presumed Roscommon would have suffered last Sunday after the shock of their U21 defeat to Tyrone but I couldn’t have been more wrong.

John Evans, the Roscommon manager, decided to rest hotshot Diarmuid Murtagh but his replacement Cian Connolly (a player I had never heard of before ) was a revelation for the Rossies.

Watch out for this guy and remember you read it here first. He is small in stature but he is very busy and doesn’t half mind getting stuck in to more physical players than himself.

Something I liked about him was his disgust at John Evans after being substituted with 15 minutes to go.

From a Mayo point of view, Roscommon winning and attracting lots of admirers is not a bad thing. On 2fm’s Game On, Evans declared Roscommon would be competing in an All-Ireland final within three years against the likes of Dublin and Kerry.

So much for keeping a low profile and your cards close to your chest. Well done to Roscommon, but don’t get too carried away.

As for Dublin, it is a classic case of déjà vu. They look invincible as they did this time last year. What was really impressive about them was their relentless tackling late on even when they were 13 points up.

They had many outstanding performers, and Jack McCaffrey got the official award for man of the match after his supreme speed and athleticism kept Cork on the back foot but my man of the match was corner back Johnny Cooper.

He tore strips off Cork danger man Brian Hurley. He dispossessed him on several occasions. Even near the end, with the game over and Hurley on the ground, Cooper leaned over him and gave him a mouthful to let him know who was boss.

Regan injury

What a sickening blow for Evan Regan to sustain a reccurrence of his broken collar bone while training last week.

I dislocated my collar bone, after receiving a thunderous hit from former Roscommon full back Pat Dory in 1995, and it was severely painful.

I can only imagine the pain Regan is in after breaking his twice in 10 weeks.

I had a good chat to Martin McHugh about him, as McHugh of course trained him for Sligo IT in the Sigerson cup, and he feels he will be a big loss to Mayo.

You’d imagine he has very little chance of participating this year, unless we get to a semi-final or final of course, but he will have no competitive match practice under his belt, which is a worry.

McHugh informed me that his own son, Mark, broke his collarbone as a 17-year-old and he in turn wouldn’t let him play football for 18 weeks.

Despite numerous rows and objections from Mark, he stuck to his guns and Mark hasn’t had a problem with his collar bone since.

I sincerely hope Regan recovers as he is a player I would love to see in a Mayo jersey in the championship and I think Mayo will need him, particularly for the business end of the season.

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