Darren O’Malley enjoyed a fairly quiet day between the posts on Sunday last when Roscommon defeated IT Sligo in the opening round of the Connacht FBD League. Roscommon scored 6-21 which was a very impressive figure for early January, while at the other end the Michael Glaveys goalkeeper manged to keep a clean sheet on his first competitive outing for 2017. O’Malley is one of three keepers that will be part of the extended Roscommon panel for the season ahead. In 2016 O’Malley battled it out with the Castlerea’s Geoffrey Claffey for the goalkeeper position and after former Connacht championship winner from 2010 decided to call time on his inter-county career for the second time last autumn many Roscommon supporters now O’Malley to nail down the number one shirt and establish himself as a permanent fixture in the team for the foreseeable future. When it comes to personal targets for the season ahead the West Roscommon man is looking to get a consistent run in the team and to play well when the opportunities are presented to him.
Roscommon manager, Kevin McStay has added the former All Ireland winning goalkeeper, Declan O’Keefe to his management team for current season and when it comes to working with somebody that has the experience that the Kerry legend has built over a long and successful career then you have to expect the knowledge that will be passed on to the Roscommon players will surely stand to O’Malley and the other goalkeepers in the squad. O’keefe won two All Ireland medals in 1997 and 2000 when the Kingdom defeated two of Roscommon’s biggest rivals in Connacht. (Mayo in 1997 and Galway after a replay in 2000). O’Malley is full of praise for his mentor and you can sense that he is keen to soak up as much information as possible from the former Irish International rules keeper.
Roscommon will play NUIG on Sunday in the FBD League and will finish up their involvement in the group stages a week later in Kiltoom when Mayo will be the visitors. The bigger picture however is the Allianz Football league and an opening round encounter with the Red Hand County in Omagh. Roscommon surpassed many expectations in retaining their top flight status last season, and already you can sense that they are collectively looking forward to having another shot at the top teams in the country for 2017.
With the winds of change sweeping the Roscommon panel from last year there is interest in how the young players that have been introduced to the fold will get on at intercounty level. One of those newcomers that O’Malley will be familiar with is his club mate Andy Glennon. Glennon caught the eye last week with a very impressive performance and O’Malley is more than pleased to see the introduction of new talent to boost competition for places on the team.
With NUIG having defeated Mayo last week O’Malley is expecting a much more difficult assignment on Sunday. Roscommon have been involved in the last three FBD league finals and O’Malley feels that the Connacht league should not be looked at as a hindrance in the lead up to the Tyrone match. He went on to add that nothing beats regular matches when it comes to the preparation for what be a very important match for the Primrose and Blue.
There will be live coverage of Roscommon V NUIG on the Shannonside Sunday sport from 2 p.m. this weekend. Willie Hegarty will be live in Ballyforan.
The full is interview between John Lynch and Darren O’Malley is loaded below: