Roscommon and Kerry will clash in a vital Allianz Football league game on Sunday next in Dr Hyde Park. The Division one campaign has been disappointing so far for last year’s Connacht finalists and the Munster champions. Kerry defeated Donegal in their opening match, however two home defeats to Mayo and Monaghan has left the men from the Kingdom very much on the back foot.
Roscommon have lost their three games so far against Tyrone, Donegal and Mayo, so the room for error for both sides is now minimum. One man well qualified to access the chances of both teams ahead of Sunday’s match is the former Roscommon manager and Kerry native John Evans.
Evans feels that the good folk down south are not getting overly concerned with how their league is going so far. He claims that the league is all about blooding in players and with the under 21 contingent preparing for the Provincial championship under the watchful eye of Jack O’Connor the focus may be slightly off the ball in the early stages of the League. However he did add the lack of fight in the Kerry players for the last two matches V Mayo and Monaghan is a cause of concern.
John Evans helped Roscommon gain successive promotions from Division Three of the Allianz Football league right up to Division one. After Roscommon defeated Down in the 2015 Division Two final Evans predicted a very bright future for his young Roscommon team. The expected championship run later that year failed to materialise and subsequently the former Tipperary manager parted company with Roscommon. He took the decision not to comment in 2016 on the progress of the then management team which consisted of Kevin McStay and Fergal O’Donnell.
When it comes to the current state of play in Roscommon Evans feels that the physique of the Roscommon players is not up to the standard required for playing in the top divisions of the Allianz Football league.
In fairness to Kevin McStay he explained in an interview on Shannonside sport prior to Christmas that the focus was on the championship in 2017 and as a result the league was not going to as much of a priority compared to last year.
There may be merit in this approach with recent Roscommon championship adventures ending in failure and not delivering on the promise of early season form. When this argument was put to Evans he said that the current management team are correct to adopt this approach if they feel it will deliver success and an appearance in the Connacht final. However Evans did add that the lack of physical strength and the loss of several experienced players will leave the Primrose and Blue at a major disadvantage.
Evans went on to add that too many quality players are not involved in the Roscommon squad at present and every effort should be made to get some of those former players that played under his management team back into the current set up. He added “that you beg, crawl and do everything possible to get them back in”. Conor Daly is one player that Roscommon cannot do without according to his former manager. He urged all concerned to be the put the structures in place to bring the likes of Daly and Cathal Cregg back into the fold for the good of Roscommon football.
When it comes to predicting an outcome for Sunday, Evans feels that Kerry have to respond after recent results. John Evans expects Kerry to be focused and he also thinks that Roscommon could struggle to match the wounded animal that Kerry are likely to be in the aftermath of those back to defeats against Mayo and Monaghan.
Full interview with John Evans from the Sportsbeat Show