Focus switches to Roscommon
SLIGO WILL have little time to reflect on last week's Connacht League final setback before setting out on their Division Three Allianz League campaign.
The Yeats County begin what promises to be an extremely tough League schedule against Roscommon at Hyde Park next Sunday and manager, Kevin Walsh, will be looking for his players to bounce back from last week's defeat to Leitrim.
With four of their games away from home, Sligo will have to be at their best if they are to figure in the promotion race. While Walsh concedes that the Connacht Championship will take far greater priority than the League, he will be anxious to see some encouraging signs from his squad over the coming months. And he will also have the tricky task of trying to introduce some fresh blood while also picking up priceless League points.
"We need to find new players for different positions and integrate them into the team during the League", he pointed out.
"That's a difficult thing to do in a competitive division but that's part of the challenge for us.
"We'll try to be as competitive as possible in the League and hopefully build up a bit of momentum towards the end of the campaign.
"But it will be a tough campaign. We've got away games against Roscommon, Fermanagh, Monaghan and Meath so it's a big challenge", he added.
And Sligo could scarcely have a tougher start than a trip to Hyde Park to face old rivals, Roscommon.
Roscommon weren't all that impressive in the Connacht League and will be without their St. Brigid's players for the early part of the Allianz League. However, with new manager, John Evans, at the helm, they will be anxious to get off to a positive start in front of their home fans.
Sligo will be strengthened by the return to the squad of Tony Taylor, Stephen Coen and Ross Donavan, all of whom featured for IT Sligo in the FBD League.
Taylor is struggling with an injury but Coen and Donavan will be pushing hard for starting places.
After a poor return of just two points from play against Leitrim last week, Coen's marksmanship would certainly be a welcome boost up front while Donavan's defensive vigilance would also be a boost. Adrian Marren, who came on as a second half substitute last week, could start against Roscommon but wing forward, Pat Hughes, is likely to be out of action for another couple of weeks due to a facial injury.
Walsh is already pinpointing the opening Championship game against London at Ruislip next May as his main priority but a good run in the League would do wonders for confidence.
In that context, a big performance against Roscomon is important.
Sligo's other League fixtures are as follows: February 10th, home v Antrim; March 3rd, Away v Monaghan; March 10th, Home v Cavan; March 16th, Away v Meath; March 24th, Away v Fermanagh; April 7th, Home v Wicklow