Posted by Mickey Harte
Friday 13 July 2012
I believe our preparations for the game against Roscommon at the weekend are going as well as they can be. We’ve picked up a number of injuries along the way but that’s par for the course at this stage of the season.
You’d love to have all your players available but we don’t have them so we have to work with what we have and I believe we have a very good panel of players. I also believe they played well for most of the game against Donegal and we go into this game determined to do better rather than feeling deflated after that result.
It’s always a difficult task going anywhere in the qualifiers. You don’t know what ground you’re going to until not that long before you have to make the trip. You’re also going to play against teams you’re not used to playing against so you don’t have the same first-hand knowledge of them as you would other teams.
We are fortunate that we played Roscommon last year (a 3-19 to 1-14 win) so we are aware of the talent they possess. It was very surprising to me that they got such a bad beating against Galway because I was sure they were more competitive than that and they subsequently showed that that was the case against Armagh.
You would have felt a team that played their football in Division One and a team that gave us a hard time of it would go there and get a result, especially after Roscommon’s deflating defeat. Such are the vagaries of sport that they tore up the script and they came back with a great victory.
That’s bound to give them great confidence and a belief that they can repeat the performance against another Ulster team and a team that is supposed to be rated higher than them, at least according to league standings.
People often say it’s patronising to talk teams up but the fact is Roscommon have shown quality to recover from where they were and they are generally very difficult to beat at Hyde Park. Last year they could have beaten Mayo in the Connacht final and that was a Mayo side that went all the way to an All-Ireland semi-final.
So Roscommon will certainly see this as a chance for themselves to make a big impact on the championship with a relatively young team.
AT THE START of the year I would have said that Mayo and Galway were the serious contenders in Connacht with Sligo and Roscommon third and fourth. But Sligo have shown that’s not the case.
They have a decent side but went through a bit of a slump after going up a couple of divisions. They lost their way a bit and got demoted again but I think Kevin Walsh has this ability to make them a good championship side.
They defeated the big two in 2010 on the way to the final and are still hurting at losing out to Roscommon. Now that they have taken care of one half of that duo they won’t be overawed by Mayo’s recent status as a top-four team.
So it’s very hard to call. A month or two ago you would have said it would be no problem for Mayo but at the moment I think it’s going to be a very close game and it really could go either way.
I THINK THIS whole Seanie Johnston case got out of hand. If there was a clash of personality with Val Andrews or if there was some internal issue it’s very hard for us to be judge and jury from a distance.
But, on the face of it, they obviously had a serious difference of opinion which meant that he wasn’t in the squad. That was a surprise to most of us outside the county but he would have been better off biding his time, continuing to play good football for his club and demanding he be brought into the team on the back of those performances.
Then when he had gone some way toward switching to Kildare and when Val Andrews left the scene in Cavan, he should have really reassessed his position and realised that the obstacle stopping him playing for his own county was gone. Even if it meant he was going to abandon his attempts to get to another county I think he would have been well advised to do that.
Then it became a huge media issue, ended up going to congress and snowballed out of hand. I’m sure that if he and others involved were to do it again they would take a different route. I think it’s a lesson to others that you’re better off staying where you are and if things are not right for you at any given time then keep working on your own performances and hope that someone in their wisdom will see you should be playing with your own county and not have to leave just to get county football.
As for the match itself I believe that Kildare have the quality to win it even though there is this intense focus on them at the moment. They were many peoples’ favourites to be in the Leinster final and they won Division Two of the National League earlier in the year.
They were at a much higher level than Cavan who were struggling at the bottom of Division Three. You must also look at the fact that Kildare have done very well through the qualifiers over the last number of years so it’s a territory they are comfortable in. So I think they will be strong enough to go there and get the win despite all the additional baggage and distraction in the build-up to it.
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