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5 reasons why Roscommon football is on the up

Roscommon’s recent progress has left them as many people’s dark horses for the All-Ireland this year.

ROSCOMMON OPEN THEIR Connacht championship campaign against London in Ruislip this weekend.

Much has been made of the Westerners progress over the last two years and their achievements have been down to a perfect storm of different things.

1. John Evans

John Evans John Evans has done a good job in his time with the county. Source: Andrew Paton/INPHO

John Evans came into the job at the beginning of the 2013 season and has slowly implemented his gameplan on the Rossies over the past two-and-a-half seasons. Evans was partly responsible for helping Tipperary advance in footballing terms while he was in charge of the county team and he seems similarly committed to developing football in Roscommon.

Roscommon play with a huge level of intensity, committed to breaking up the field at speed and utilising the fresh legs they have at their disposal. You can be sure that Evans implements this tactic and bases each game-plan around it.

His use of the younger players has been exemplary also. Rather than over-relying on them he has chosen to rotate certain players and always leaves room for two or three more experienced players in the forward line such as Cathal Cregg, Senan Kilbride and Donie Shine.

2. The winning mentality

Niall Carty lifts the cup Roscommon beat Down in this year's Division Two league final. Source: Tommy Grealy/INPHO

Two successive promotions have been achieved in the national league and Roscommon will mix it with the best in division one next season. Whether or not they are up to the standards of competing with the likes of Dublin, Kerry and Mayo on a consistent basis in the league is yet to be seen but a winning habit is the best habit you can have in sport.

Division two this year was slightly down on standards from other years with the competitiveness shown by both Kildare and Westmeath upon their relegation from the top tier farcical at times.

Roscommon won’t care about the standard of the division so long as they were able to maintain their good form and with the provincial success of the U21′s allied with having players involved in DCU’s unlikely Sigerson Cup victory they have a good appetite for success built up.

3. The Connacht draw

Seamus and Aidan O'Shea with Michael Finneran and Senan Kilbride Roscommon seem certain for a Connacht final date with either Mayo or Galway. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Without any disrespect to either London or Sligo, Roscommon have been dealt the easy side of the draw and should ease into a Connacht final appearance on 19 July. While a trip over to Ruislip may present some difficulties it is hard to imagine London being too much of an obstacle, while Sligo football seems to be in a slumber ever since they played in their last provincial decider in 2012.

Should Roscommon navigate past the two they will face either Mayo or Galway in the decider. If Mayo make the final it will probably be played in McHale Park, a venue in which Roscommon have failed to show up on a number of occasions in the past. This side is a little different however and most players under the age of 23 will have fond memories of Mayo’s home venue from inflicting defeats at U21 level in recent years.

4. The young pretenders

Diarmuid Murtagh Diarmuid Murtagh has been a revelation in the senior set up.

Colin Compton, Ciaran and Diarmuid Murtagh, Cian Connolly, Ciarán Cafferkey, Fintan Kelly, Ultan Harney and Donie and Enda Smith are all under the age of 23. The array of talent coming through is astonishing in Roscommon at the moment. Along with Dublin, Roscommon are leading the way in terms of youth development and actually integrating younger players into the team.

They have all played regularly at senior level so far in their careers and this years batch of U21′s which include Tadhg O’Rourke, Cathal Compton, Ronan Daly and Noel Gately can all expect to see plenty of action in the next year at senior level.

It’s up to John Evans to ultimately decide when certain players are ready for competing at senior chamiponship level but he has made the right call on almost every player he’s brought into the side since he took charge.

5. St Brigid’s All-Ireland win in 2013

St BrigidÕs team celebrate with the trophy The St Brigid's said that won the 2013 All-Ireland club title. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

While there may only be three members of the 2013 All-Ireland winning side featuring prominently now for the Rossies it surely still gives the county side a boost. Senan Kilbride has proved he’s one of the most dangerous full-forward’s in the country in the past few years and his influence on the Roscommon forward line is massive.

The influence of All-Ireland winners cannot be underestimated in a dressing room and will act as morale booster for the rest of the team.

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