Wednesday 8 February 2023 Dublin: 4°C
Ken Sutton/INPHO Ian Kilbride and Roscommon are enjoying life in the top tier.
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High flying Rossies, clinical McManus, unfamiliar Donegal – weekend football talking points
Plenty of football action to discuss after its return this weekend.

Rossies loving life in Division 1

The people of Roscommon could be forgiven for waking up on Monday morning and quickly checking the Division 1 table – just to make sure it all wasn’t a dream. Two games against Munster’s Old Firm. Two wins. And two remarkable but very different performances.

If the win in Killarney was tight and cagey, the Rossies’ victory on Leeside today was anything but.

Roscommon blew Cork out of the water, scoring 4-25 with the entire forward line running riot. Kevin McStay has his young team playing with tremendous belief and their fitness is on another level. Another win at home to Down next Sunday, and a semi-final spot beckons for Roscommon.

Who knew this Division 1 lark would be so easy?

Conor McManus reaches new highs

Conor McManus shot the lights out as Monaghan ran Dublin to within a point in Croke Park on Saturday night. As if we needed any reminding, the Clontibret man confirmed his status in the upper echelon of scoring forwards in the country. On current form there’s not too many you’d take ahead of him.

Monaghan played their usual high octane defensive game, and they did so safe in the knowledge that McManus was virtually unmarkable at the far end. Nine of his scores were from frees, many of which he won himself.

As the tension rose and the game was on the line in the final ten minutes, he stood up and sent over three points to put the Ulster side in front. Ultimately it wasn’t enough to get a result for the Farney, but early indications are that McManus is heading for a career-defining year.

Unfamiliar Donegal keep on winning

Martin McElhinney and Kevin McLoughlin Presseye / Donna McBride/INPHO Martin McElhinney is chased down by Kevin McLoughlin. Presseye / Donna McBride/INPHO / Donna McBride/INPHO

This isn’t very like the Donegal we’re used to. They’ve never been a February team, but Rory Gallagher’s charges are enjoying a rip-roaring start to the league while scoring freely in the process.

Donegal remain atop of Division 1 after a narrow two point win over Mayo – their first since the 2012 All-Ireland final. They’ve won all three games so far, hit 6-43 and have a points difference of +29. Impressive.

Having the majority of the squad based in the county, added to the injection of youth seems to have really benefited the team this year.

Seanie Johnston makes a fruitful return to the Cavan team

Seanie Johnston made his first league start for Cavan in 2016 a memorable one with a fine display. He kicked six points, four from play, in an utterly strange game. Meath led by eight points at one stage and went on to lose by seven.

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Cavan had lost out to northern rivals Tyrone and Derry by a combined total of just three points, and they fared much better against Leinster opposition on Sunday. Johnston was the star and he repaid Terry Hyland’s faith and led Cavan’s comeback.

The much maligned forward even received a rousing ovation from the Cavan supporters when he was called ashore with two minutes remaining. How times have changed.

Westmeath remain winless

Kieran Martin dejected after the game James Crombie / INPHO Kieran Martin dejected after Westmeath were knocked out of last year's championship. James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

This time two years ago Westmeath were rubbing shoulders with the big boys in Division 1. Now they find themselves scrapping for their lives in the third tier.

You might argue that relegation from Division 2 last spring didn’t do the Lake County any harm as they went on to stun Meath and reach the Leinster final, but the last thing Westmeath need is a third successive demotion.

There were plenty of positives for Tom Cribben to take out of their draw with Tipperary, but they face an uphill battle to remain in the division. Next up is Clare, who are right in the promotion mix after their first away league win in two years.

Lose that one and Westmeath will find themselves in deep trouble.

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Roscommon hit four goals as they hammer Cork by 18 points

McLoone goal condemns Mayo to third successive defeat

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