What: All Ireland Championship Football Quarter Finals – Phase 1 (Group 2)
Who: Tyrone v Roscommon
Where: Croke Park, Dublin
When: Saturday, July 14th at 5pm
Odds: Tyrone 2/5 Draw 8/1 Roscommon 11/4
The three-year trial that is the Super 8s will begin in earnest at Croke Park on Saturday evening with the meeting of Tyrone and Roscommon.
Mickey Harte’s Tyrone side have become the back door specialists and have once again navigated the choppy waters of qualifier football to make it back to Croke Park at the business end of the season.
The terrific reaction to their Ulster Championship defeat to Monaghan has seen them account for Meath, Carlow, Cavan and Cork, with the likes of Frank Burns and Connor McAliskey leading the Red Hand County with confidence.
And for a side that has become characterised by ultra-defensive tactics over the past twenty years or so, it is interesting to note just how free-scoring they have been in this year’s Championship. They have found the back of the net on nine occasions in their five matches to date and McAliskey is showing All-Star form with his individual hauls of 1-08 against Meath and 1-06 against Cork.
All of which leaves Roscommon with a mountain to climb.
The Rossies prevailed in a tightly contested Round 4 qualifier with Armagh in Portlaoise to book their place in Group 2 of the Super 8s, a group that also includes Dublin and Donegal. It was a gritty performance and proved that Roscommon can win grind out results.
But from here on out it will be exclusively Division 1 teams that they will be facing and it is hard to be optimistic about their chances.
Their no-show in the Connacht Championship final will still be fresh in the mind when Roscommon meet Tyrone on Saturday. On that occasion, Roscommon found it difficult to create against an obstinate back line and were slowly and methodically worked out of the game.
Even though it is only the first game of the super 8s, this already has the feel of a must-win for both sides. The losers of this match will be in the unenviable position of having to take points from Dublin and Donegal if they are to progress further.
Tyrone are a similar beast to the Armagh side that the Westerners defeated last week, except that their game plan is far more developed than their Ulster rivals. Kevin McStay will be hoping that his team don’t fall victim to stage fright in the big matches as they have done in the past.
Too often Roscommon have flattered to deceive. They play a nice brand of football but often lack the mental strength to see off an opponent when they are in the ascendancy.
Tyrone have been here so many times before that they have become conditioned to big games in Croke Park. They will feel that their superior pedigree, fitness and game management skills will be sufficient to overcome whatever Roscommon can muster up.
Prediction: Tyrone to win by 3+ points