Daly brothers return to boost Rossie ranks

The Roscommon footballers have benefited “hugely” from the return of Cathal Cregg and the Daly brothers, Niall, Conor and Ronan, according to selector Ger Dowd.

Roscommon's Cathal Cregg

Cregg did not make himself available last season, while Niall Daly departed after two rounds of the National League. His younger brothers, Ronan and Conor, pulled out of the squad at different stages during the 2016 campaign.

The quartet returned for 2018, with Conor starting last month’s league final win, while Niall and Cathal Cregg were introduced as second-half subs. Cregg wound up as the team’s top-scorer that afternoon, kicking 2-1 from play after being sprung from the bench.

Absolutely delighted to have Cathal (Cregg) back in and delighted to have the Daly lads back as well. It just didn’t suit last year for various reasons, but they’ve come back in, have been very positive around the place and have impacted hugely,” said Dowd ahead of Saturday’s Connacht semi-final away to Leitrim.

“With a lot of the league games, you can see in the last 15 or 20 minutes that we have been able to bring guys on from the bench and we didn’t have that strength last year, if we’re being honest.

“We feel we have a stronger squad now and Cathal coming on in the final, he scored 2-1 and is so sharp. He is still that kind of player that can arrive at the pitch of the game straightaway. He has that ability and doesn’t need that much time to get up to the pace of the game. On his day, he is one of the best forwards around. Cathal’s graph is rising all the time. Every time he plays he seems to get better.”

Dowd added: “The Daly brothers have all made contributions this year and hopefully, will make more contributions into the summer.”

The eldest of the three siblings, Niall, is a doubt for their provincial championship opener in Carrick-on-Shannon owing to a foot injury.

“It’s a hairline fracture in the foot and it’s something that needs a bit of rest and time.

John McManus sustained an injury during the spring but he had returned to fitness for the league final. He then damaged his hamstring in the warm-up and didn’t partake in the league final. But he is back training and we’re happy to have him around the place.

Despite overcoming Leitrim in their last six championship meetings since 2009, Dowd doesn’t see complacency being an issue.

“For us as a management team, we’ve seen so many upsets in the past to know that anything can happen in a game of football.

“We are a young and developing group so nobody can take the focus off the next game and that’s the way it has to be.”

He concluded: “We were delighted with our spring. To beat Cavan in the final was nice. We’re trying to play attractive football. We don’t want to be too defensive and we want to try and play football like we think we can. We are not the biggest side in the world, yet we feel we are quite skilful and that’s the type of game we want to play.”

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