IT was refreshing to hear the honesty of Roscommon selector Declan Hoare who admitted that the Connacht champions were the team each of the four qualifier survivors wanted this weekend.
It’s an accurate viewpoint and given the draining exertions of last Saturday in the Gaelic Grounds, Cork will have been glad to sidestep Tyrone and Kerry here.
Roscommon are unquestionably in bonus territory after claiming a splendid provincial crown. That game showcased the strong points of this team – the disciplined defending of Seanie McDermott and Peter Domican, Michael Finneran’s strength around the middle, the constant energy from half-forwards David Keenan and Cathal Cregg, and the deadball magnificence of Donie Shine.
But Cork arrive at this juncture a battle-hardened outfit after their stint on the qualifier circuit. They may not be demolishing teams like they did last season but it could serve them better to have emerged from some gruelling battles.
Defenders Michael Shields and Jamie O’Sullivan are in top form, Graham Canty and Nicholas Murphy are still capable of controlling matches, and there are scores in a full-forward line of Daniel Goulding, Ciarán Sheehan and Colm O’Neill provided they receive the right type of service.
Cork are equipped to cope with the pressure of being widely forecast to triumph than Sligo were in the Connacht decider. That experience and the wide space of Croke Park will enable them to open up Roscommon.
- Verdict: Cork
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