Injury-hit Roscommon set for London venture

Story by Kevin O'Neill

Wednesday, 26th May, 2010 5:00pm

ROSCOMMON have a plethora of injury concerns as they prepare to kick-off their Connacht SFC campaign this weekend against London at Ruislip (Sunday, 3.30pm).

Definitely ruled out of Sunday's opener are St Brigid's pair Cathal McHugh and Senan Kilbride, as well as Fintan Cregg, Paul Freeman, Enda Kenny and Donal Warde, while injury doubts also linger over Peter Domican and David O'Gara, who are both rated at 50/50 to make the London clash.

Speaking during the build-up to the game, Roscommon selector Declan Hoare said the team's injury crisis makes for an even more troublesome challenge than first envisaged.

"You always have to be cautious when going over to play London, and if we give them any encouragement at all, they will take it, and we'll get turned over. That's why we have to be fully focussed on what we're doing, and make sure we don't take our eye off the ball," said Hoare.

Having managed to avoid Connacht's 'big-three' of Galway, Mayo and Sligo in the draw, the winners' of Sunday's match in Ruislip will be faced with the challenge of Leitrim in the Connacht SFC semi-final, with the other semi-final consisting of Galway, and the winners of the upcoming Sligo and Mayo match.

However, Hoare is wary of looking beyond the London match.

"When the draw was made, of course everyone was satisfied to avoid Galway, Mayo and Sligo until the Connacht final. But there's no point looking beyond the challenge of London," he said.

Roscommon, of course, endured another difficult campaign in the league, winning just once (against Louth) in their seven outings in Division 3, a record which ultimately saw the Rossies' relegated to Division 4.

And they also have mixed memories of their last trip to play London in the championship, when Roscommon laboured to a one-point victory five years' ago.

"London have ability and they'll take full advantage if we're not on our game. Our league form was much better five years' ago, as well, so we're taking nothing for granted," Hoare said.

London are perennial underdogs in the Connacht championship and have been managed for the past five years by Athlone native Noel Dunning, who this year forms part of a three-pronged team selection staff, with the London GAA County Board opting not to appoint a main manager this year.

On the plus side for Roscommon, Clann na nGael forward Johnny Dunning recently returned to action after a leg break, and has played in a couple of challemge matches of late. St Brigid's club man Karol Mannion has also been taking a full part in recent challenge matches, and will start against London.

Hoare said: "They are two major positives for us. We have a huge injury list at the moment, but if we play to our level, we are good enough to beat London and reach the semi-finals."

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