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Big setback for the Rossies as two key players won't be involved in 2017

Neil Collins and Cathal Cregg won’t be lining out for Roscommon in 2017.

JUST A WEEK out from opening their league campaign with a trip to Omagh, Roscommon have been dealt a blow with the news that Neil Collins and Cathal Cregg won’t be part of their squad for the coming year.

Speculation over their respective futures began to mount in recent weeks when it became apparent that neither player took part in Roscommon’s pre-season training programme.

Roscommon boss Kevin McStay confirmed the news today in the wake of their five-point defeat to Galway in the FBD League final.

“For one reason or another they’re just not available to us,” McStay told Shannonside FM. “That’s just the way it is. They haven’t done any of the pre-season work.”

Kevin McStay and Kevin Walsh McStay and Galway manager Kevin Walsh after Sunday's FBD League final Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Collins, who turns 27 this year, suffered a serious hamstring tear last July and underwent surgery, which ruled him out for the remainder of the championship.

A two-time Sigerson Cup winner with DCU, Collins runs his own fashion label, Cryptic Clique. He plans on spending time working in America later this year.

McStay continued: “In Neil’s case we’ve met and had a long chat. He’d love to have a go – but he can’t. He’s going to the States, the plan is to go in April. He has a life outside of football that he wants to live.”

With 11 seasons of senior inter-county football under his belt, Cregg was one of Roscommon’s most seasoned campaigners.

He has represented the Irish International Rules side on multiple occasions in the past and enjoyed arguably his best season in Roscommon colours last year.

He works for Connacht GAA and is also busy juggling a PHD and family life.

In Cathal’s case he’s been very busy, my understanding is he’s doing a PHD. He’s very busy at work and I think he got engaged at Christmas if I’m not mistaken. So he has a lot of things going on in his life and we wish him good luck with it.”

It’s been a rocky year for Roscommon. They enjoyed a fine start to the league last year, beating Kerry, Cork and Donegal en route to a Division 1 semi-final appearance.

But the Rossies ran out of steam by the summer and suffered a heavy Connacht final replay defeat to Galway, before exiting the championship with a loss to Clare just six days later.

Fergal O’Donnell stepped down as joint-manager at the end of last season, with fellow selectors David Casey, Stephen Bohan following him out the exit door. McStay went up against Nigel Dineen for the vacant managerial position, before the latter withdrew from the running.

Over the winter Senan Kilbride, Geoffrey Claffey and Niall Carty announced their retirements, while Donie Shine, David Keenan, Sean Purcell and James McDermott are not part of the set-up this year.

“I have to think of the guys that are here,” added the 2013 All-Ireland winning club manager.

“On Tuesday I’m confident we’ll pick a very decent panel for Roscommon to have a cut in the national league and stay in that league.”

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