Roscommon to enjoy more Croke Park success against Clare
A place in the All-Ireland Quarter Finals is the prize on offer in Croke Park this afternoon as Roscommon take on Clare in the first of a double header, the curtain raiser to the main event of Mayo against Kildare.
It's Roscommon's second outing in headquarters this season and they certainly have happy memories of Jones' Road from their last trip. That was a Division Two league final against neighbours Galway that ended in victory and extended their unbeaten league run to eight games in a row.
Eight became nine when Anthony Cunningham's men dismissed Sligo in the Connaught championship to set up a provincial decider with the Tribesmen, who they'd beaten twice in the league.
It proved to be third time lucky for Padraig Joyce's side however as they made home advantage count to gather the Nestor Cup for the first-time since 2018 and hand Roscommon their first defeat of the 2022 season.
Their league success was made up of six wins from eight outings, including the league final and Roscommon only dropped points twice, drawing with two teams throughout the entire campaign.
One of those teams was promotion chasers Derry while the other came in round three, at home to Colm Collins' Clare side. The Banner County hit three late points to secure a share of the spoils and displayed a never say die attitude that Collins has built into them.
Clare are a hardened and experienced Division Two team at this stage and have been able to maintain their top 16 position ever since earning promotion and a Division Three title back in 2016.
With attacking power in the form of David Tubridy and Eoin Cleary, Clare have been punching above their weight for the last few years, but the Munster championship has proved unfair, as they've been drawn against Kerry in four of the previous five seasons.
Their luck seemed to have changed this year however when they faced Limerick in the opening round. It was a rejuvenated Limerick however and after a dramatic penalty shootout, Clare found themselves heading through the backdoor.
Last week's win over Meath got them up and running once again, but they'll head into today's clash as underdogs. Roscommon look to be just further ahead of their opponents and while they'll get nothing easy, the class of Enda Smith, Conor Cox, the Daly's and Ultan Harney should be enough to see them through.