Wednesday 21 August 2019

Rossies must go out with a win to keep on learning - Cunningham

Challenge: Roscommon football manager Anthony Cunningham. Photo: Sportsfile
Challenge: Roscommon football manager Anthony Cunningham. Photo: Sportsfile

John Fallon

Roscommon manager Anthony Cunningham believes it's crucial his players end the championship on a high as they seek their first Super 8s win.

Roscommon go to Páirc Uí Rinn to face Cork in a dead rubber, with both teams already out of the running after a couple of defeats in Group 2, but Cunningham believes they have a lot to play for.

The Connacht champions were defeated by Tyrone in their Super 8s opener and then five-in-a-row-chasing Dublin hammered them 2-26 to 0-14 at Croke Park on July 20.

Following a weekend off, Cunningham believes his players are desperate to go out and beat a Cork side who were only edged out by Tyrone following a 13-point loss to Dublin.

"From where this Roscommon team have come, they have come a huge distance and they are learning all the time," said Cunningham.

"We have come on a huge amount and we want to kick on now. We have to keep learning.

"We want to tidy up on certain aspects of our game. These players just want matches and everybody wants top championship matches."

In Cunningham's first year in charge Roscommon were relegated from Division 1 of the National Football League but built their performances through the championship.

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They beat Leitrim 3-17 to 0-12, Mayo 2-12 to 0-17 and reigning champions Galway 1-13 to 0-12 in the Connacht final at Pearse Stadium in Salthill.

And after finishing bottom of the Group 2 standings in 2018 they want to go one better, while Cunningham hopes the Roscommon fans make the trip.

"The supporters have been tremendous all year," said Cunningham.

"There has been a great bond with this team right since the get-go. They are super supporters and they will drive on this team."

Cork manager Ronan McCarthy has made four changes to his team with Micheál Martin, James Loughrey, Eoghan McSweeney and Paul Kerrigan drafted in.

Cork have scored heavily with 1-17 and 2-12 respectively in their defeats to Dublin and Tyrone but their defence has been susceptible to conceding big scores too.

Listowel Emmets forward Conor Cox is a huge threat for Roscommon. And in his first year representing the Connacht county the Kerry native (26) is determined to finally claim Super 8s glory.

"We are very disappointed now. We thought we would give it a right rattle," said Cox.

"It's Super 8s, it is a level up from the Connacht championship. And they come quick and fast. There are no easy games."

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