'We lift our game for top teams' -- Donie Shine
THEY definitely haven't had the luck of the draw in this year's qualifiers, but Donie Shine is desperately hoping Roscommon get a break on the pitch on Saturday.
The Rossies have been pretty unfortunate to pull two big Ulster teams out of the hat this summer.
"Getting Armagh was probably the worst draw possible in the first round and then getting Tyrone in the second round, you probably couldn't have got a tougher draw than that," Shine observed.
But he also feels this draw has the potential to bring out the best in Des Newtown's team.
"Sometimes it's easier to pick yourself up for the bigger teams, you really lift your game to play the top three or four teams and, no matter what anyone says, Tyrone are always regarded as a Division 1 team," he noted.
"We got a bit of luck the last day against Armagh and you do need a bit of that to get a run going in the qualifiers."
Saturday's clash with Mickey Harte's men in Dr Hyde Park is a rematch of last summer's fourth-round qualifier clash, which Tyrone won 3-19 to 1-14, but that scoreline is not the only reason Roscommon will be looking for revenge.
"We took a lot of stick after losing to Galway, most of it deserved," Shine admitted. "But we aren't as bad as we looked that day. You don't suddenly become a bad team overnight, and hopefully we proved that the last day and can do it again this weekend."
Beating Armagh certainly restored some confidence, not just for the team but for Shine personally. He was off form the first day, scoring just two frees, but recovered to kick 0-7 (six from frees) the last time out.
"I had a very bad day against Galway, from frees and from play, but I did a lot of work and practice in between," he said. "Thankfully I was better the last day."
Pulling off such a big comeback -- outscoring Armagh 1-6 to 0-2 after the break -- has certainly helped lift Roscommon's mood.
"We were five down at half-time but Senan (Kilbride) getting that goal straight after it really helped. Suddenly the crowd got behind us and our defence also did a great job," Shine said.
He says that last year's experience against Tyrone was not as bad as it looked.
"We were level with them right up to half-time and they got two very late goals (from Sean Cavanagh and Mark Donnelly), so it looked worse than it was. Tyrone were definitely the better team but we felt we played well for a long spell of it."
Roscommon have also been bolstered since by the inclusion of a handful of players who lost this year's All-Ireland U-21 final to Dublin.
"Since the Galway game the U-21s have really settled in and it's great to have them, they've brought loads of energy and enthusiasm," Shine said.
Saturday's game takes place just 24 hours before Dr Hyde Park also hosts the Connacht final, in which Shine is tipping Mayo -- he doesn't hold with the theory that their semi-final cakewalk against Leitrim will leave them vulnerable.
"Mayo beat Cork and reached an All-Ireland semi-final last year," he said. "They're ahead of the rest of us in Connacht, especially with the amount of good players they have and the quality of their bench."
Donie Shine is a brand ambassador for All-Ireland sponsors Eircom who are running an on-line quiz for match tickets at www.experiencemore.ie