Championship 2024 Blog

Roscommon and Mayo renew rivalries this weekend in Group 2 of the Sam Maguire Cup

Mike Finnerty | 29 May 2024

Big re-match way out West.

How will Mayo use Aidan O’Shea?

It’s hard to remember a time when there wasn’t a debate around Aidan O’Shea’s best position or how Mayo could get the most from his considerable presence and skill set.

So Kevin McStay’s decision to drop the three-time All Star for the recent win over Cavan certainly didn’t go unnoticed.

The Breaffy man turns 34 at the end of next month and feels he still has plenty to offer.

But the fact that Cillian O’Connor produced a man of the match display on his return to the starting XV means that he now looks nailed on to start against Roscommon this weekend.

So where does that leave O’Shea?

Will the real Enda Smith stand up?

Being Roscommon’s talisman and an All Star means that Enda Smith has been a marked man again this season.

Dublin deployed John Small to pick him up last weekend and the Ballymun Kickhams’ defender left with the man of the match award after doing what he does best.

Smith also found it difficult to shake off Mayo’s Donnacha McHugh in the Connacht semi-final and was unable to make much of an impact.

That has left many people wondering how Davy Burke will deploy his team’s driving force against Mayo on Saturday evening.

Because if Enda Smith can rediscover his best form then Roscommon’s chances of causing an upset are greatly enhanced.

Dublin’s squad depth is hard to match

The All-Ireland champions finished with a flourish against Roscommon last weekend but the 12-point winning margin certainly flattered them.

There was a lot more to the story behind the scoreline.

But the fact remains that Dublin moved up through the gears in the last 15 minutes, running their bench and springing Jack McCaffrey, Seán Bugler, Colm Basquel, Paddy Small and Theo Clancy to tip the balance.

You wonder what Cavan will have learned from studying Roscommon’s approach? The key is to stay in the game as long as possible and take whatever chances come your way.

But Dublin’s squad depth remains one of their strongest assets.

Can Cavan get their act together?

There wasn’t a lot for Cavan supporters to be optimistic about as they made the long journey home from Castlebar last Saturday week.

A sobering nine-point defeat to Mayo in the first round of the All-Ireland series, after a disappointing display, was a harsh reality check for their injury-hit squad.

The absence of the likes of Paddy Lynch and Dara McVeety left Cavan’s forwardline short of scoring power, and their final tally of 1-8 spoke for itself.

Raymond Galligan also set his team up ultra-defensively and the early stages this Saturday evening will tell us plenty about their attitude and approach this time around.

Top of the table clash in Sligo

The meeting of Sligo and Antrim at Markievicz Park on Sunday promises to be one of the games of the weekend.

Both teams have come flying out of the blocks in Group 2 of the Tailteann Cup so the prize of a place in the quarter-finals awaits the winners here.

The losers will have to make do with a preliminary quarter-final.

Sligo manager Tony McEntee has built on his team’s last-gasp defeat to Galway in the Connacht semi-final while Antrim boss, Andy McEntee, has got his team back on track after losing to Down in Ulster.

A win here would be another big step in the right direction for one of them.