PREVIEW: Kerry Need To Win But Don’t Expect A Vintage Performance

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Gavin O’Connor looks forward to Kerry v Roscommon in the Allianz National Football League R2 game in Fitzgerald Stadium, Killarney on Sunday at 2pm…

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Johnny Buckley will partner David Moran in midfield on Sunday. File Photo

THESE two sides paths don’t cross often, but when they do it usually matters.

The 1980 All-Ireland Final will stick on many people’s mind as the ultimate battle between Kerry and Roscommon.

Kerry eventually slogged that one out, but it would take 26 years before the Rossies got some revenge for that defeat when they overcame Kerry in the 2006 All-Ireland Minor Final after a replay.

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Shane Enright, Tommy Walsh, David Moran and Johnny Buckley are four men that lost that minor final. The late Paddy Curtin was also in that side.

The match on Sunday has a less illustrious backdrop, with both sides needing to get off the mark in the league. Last week, a flat Kerry side were outclassed by the Dubs while Roscommon fell to Monaghan with a late Conor McManus goal proving decisive.

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For Roscommon, a trip to Killarney is not the ideal fixture on the rebound, while for a depleted Kerry, it might be seen as a bit of a cushy landing after another Croke Park defeat to Dublin.

This year, the joint management team of Kevin McStay and Liam McHale have brought a bit of a buzz around Roscommon. One of the National League’s surprise packages, they finished top of Division Two led by Killorglin man John Evans.

A promising league campaign was followed by a disastrous championship. Many people had touted the Rossies to test Mayo in Connacht.

But after defeat to an unfancied Sligo they never got the opportunity and eventually exited the qualifiers at the hands of Fermanagh. John Evans went from hero to zero in matter of months and left the post in August.

Last week, mistakes in the end are what cost Roscommon against Monaghan, who are now very much a Division 1 standard outfit. Kerry were pedestrian against Dublin and in the aftermath Eamonn Fitzmaurice was very clear in his disappointment at the performance.

A loss on Sunday will put Kerry in murky waters, so as far as staying up, it’s a must-win match.

On home soil a win is expected, but the way in which Kerry have creaked into action the last few years you’ve got to sense we could have a few sticky moments and a far from a vintage performance is expected.

This early in the year, ‘vintage’ won’t be required.

Verdict – Kerry by 3

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