Does Roscommon's League form as a newly-promoted team point towards a successful Championship?
The Connacht side face Kerry in the Allianz League semi-final this weekend10:34 Thursday 7 April 2016, 10:34 7 Apr 2016
Tipped by many to be relegated back to Division 2 at the first time of asking, Roscommon have surprised the GAA world ahead of this weekend's Allianz League semi-finals.
The Connacht side finished Division 1 in third place, recording four wins in a row in the middle of the lead to comfortably avoid the drop. Of the four wins one only came at "home" against Down. That game had to be moved from Dr Hyde Park to Pearse Park in Longford due to an unplayable pitch.
Three away wins against this weekend's opponents Kerry, Cork and Donegal laid the foundations for a successful campaign. Despite losing to Mayo last month, Roscommon are now seen as realistic contenders to win the Connacht title this year and end Mayo's recent domination of holding the Nestor Cup.
Mayo have not lost in the Connacht Championship since June 2010, and will hope to win their sixth title in a row this summer. Connacht's two Division 1 teams have been kept apart in the Provincial Championship and can only meet in the final on July 10th.
Looking back over the past five championships, it is worth noting how the newly promoted Division 1 sides performed come the summer. Are Fergal O'Donnell and Kevin McStay's team set for a memorable 2016?
The Ulster duo of Down and Armagh both survived relegation from Division 1 after being promoted the year before. Fourth and sixth place finishes respectively set the team's up for the Ulster Championship. A quarter-final meeting between the two saw Armagh advance to the semi-finals before losing to Derry on the last-four.
Both teams failed to reach the All-Ireland series, with Down reaching Round 4 of the qualifiers. Despite entering in Round 3, Derry lost in their opening game to Ulster rivals Tyrone.
Donegal began a memorable year by finishing sixth in Division 1, they were joined by Laois as the newly-promoted sides but the Leinster team were relegated back to Division 2 winning only two of seven games.
Unlike 2011, both promoted teams reached the All-Ireland series. Laois lost their opening Leinster Championship game to Longford, before beating Carlow, Monaghan, Leitrim and Meath in the qualifiers. In the end, their season ended with a six-point defeat to Dublin in the All-Ireland quarter-finals.
Donegal had a year they would never forget. A second All-Ireland title was complemented by defending their Ulster crown. Jim McGuinness' team won seven games in a row, culminating in beating Mayo in the All-Ireland Final.
Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy
Despite promotion, Tyrone and Kildare both reached the Allianz League semi-finals. The Ulster side defeated Kildare in the semi-finals before losing to Dublin in the final.
In the Championship, Tyrone reached the All-Ireland semi-finals after a long trek to the qualifiers. Mickey Harte's side lost to Donegal in the Ulster quarter-final before a trip through the back-door saw Tyrone win their quarter-final against Monaghan before eventually losing to Tyrone.
Like their league campaign, Kildare's championship run was ended by Tyrone. The Lilywhites left Leinster after a semi-final loss to Dublin. Tyrone won in Newbridge in Round 3 of the qualifiers.
The year to forget for the newly promoted teams. Derry hoped to have a successful year after reaching the Allianz League Final, before eventually losing to Dublin. Westmeath were relegated straight back to Division 2 finishing at the foot of the top-tier.
Both team's has a disastrous campaign. In Ulster, Derry lost to Donegal before losing to Longford in Celtic Park in Round 1A of the qualifiers. For Westmeath, the same fate awaited. A Leinster loss to Louth was followed by a Round 1B defeat away to Cavan.
For the second time in four years, Donegal were promoted for Division 2 and they were joined by Ulster rivals Monaghan. Both teams reached the Allianz League semi-finals before losing to Cork and Dublin respectively.
In Ulster, Monaghan defeated Donegal in the Provincial Final. Both teams reached the All-Ireland series with Monaghan once again losing to Tyrone as they did in 2013. Donegal were also eliminated in the last eight, losing to Mayo.
Roscommon's Sean Purcell celebrates at the final whistle after beating Kerry. Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy
Recent history shows that Roscommon should be very hopeful going into this summer's Championship. Matching Donegal's feat in 2012 may be beyond the team but there is no reason why a place in the All-Ireland quarter-finals should be beyond the Connacht side.
A win this weekend against Kerry could be the catalyst for a memorable 2016 for Roscommon.
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