Roscommon will be hoping to produce a much improved All Ireland quarter final Group Phase display against Donegal at Dr Hyde Park on Saturday evening, 5pm throw-in.
Last weekend’s demoralising 4-24 to 2-12 loss against Tyrone was a significant blow for Roscommon, who endured a tough 70 minutes at Croke Park. Roscommon couldn’t contain Tyrone following Niall Sludden’s opportunistic 11th minute goal. Before that major, Roscommon had settled quickly, but following Sludden’s intervention Tyrone dominated the rest of the first half to lead 1-10 to 0-6 at the break.
After the interval, Conor Meyler, Peter Harte and Richie Donnelly added further goals for Mickey Harte’s charges. Ciaran Murtagh and Enda Smith did clip goals for Roscommon, but Tyrone were never seriously threatened which disappointed manager Kevin McStay.
“We certainly think we’re better than we showed out there. Are Tyrone as good as they showed out there? It was just a non-contest unfortunately, everything we didn’t want it to be. We tried to keep the gap manageable, because it’s so hard to play against Tyrone when that gap goes out to six or seven, they play a system that they’re hugely comfortable with and that they believe in. We tried hard in the second-half, we got it back to four or five, but then fell away again. Just their athleticism and conditioning is a good touch ahead of ours,” McStay commented after the defeat.
McStay highlighted the pace and power of Tyrone’s runners from deep, who caused Roscommon severe problems throughout the game.
“There’s four or five powerful runners there coming hard from the half-back line, Harte, Donnelly, these fellas pouring forward, Colm Cavanagh at times, they’re strong, strong runners. That’s just a level that we’re not at yet. but we’d hope to get there. Then the natural athleticism of some of their players, you know, Tyrone have a lot of them compared to us. You just struggle, once you go behind against Tyrone it’s a very difficult place to be,” McStay added.
Following the 2017 All Ireland SFC quarter final replay defeat against Mayo and the Tyrone reversal, McStay acknowledged that another heavy defeat at GAA headquarters is damaging for Roscommon.
“Ah it is and we know this, we had Dublin in the League here as well on my watch, we got an awful trimming here one night. You come up here obviously hoping for the best, planning for the best, expecting the best and like we genuinely thought these days were gone, obviously they’re not, we have so much more to do. Some of the standard that we produced just wasn’t good and there were different patches of the game that we’ll have to go back and have a look at in terms of selection and so on, we thought we put out our strongest team on the day, but it never happened for us,” the Mayo native commented.
Roscommon may opt to alter their approach going forward too according to McStay.
“That’s a debate that we’re going to have to have going into the early part of the winter. Because that’s the way we play, which is easy to play against. But it’s a type of football that, you know, I’m not sure the Roscommon supporters would go and watch if we changed our style dramatically and if we started looking at a Galway model, or something like that, whether our supporters would want that, whether our players would want that type of a game. That’s a discussion we’re going to have to have.
“We’re two years trying to develop ourselves, get out of the lower division, into Division 1, trying to get a title along the way, and thankfully we did, but now going into the next level, that elite level perhaps, is going to take some big strategic decisions in style and in personnel. That’s what a day like this does to you. You have to stop and say, this isn’t good enough, we’re able to compete with a Tyrone. In two weeks’ time we’re back here again for the ultimate kingpins, so that’s fairly daunting. The match next weekend is really paramount for us, to react to us,” McStay continued.
Donegal also suffered a defeat against Dublin so an important encounter is imminent at the Hyde. What will McStay attempt to do to ensure Roscommon are ready for the Donegal challenge?
“I think we’d be honest enough to know that what happened here wasn’t good enough,” McStay states. “They will conclude that themselves, they won’t need me to tell them. We had a good exchange of views at half-time. I’d have a great sense that we’ve been here before, we’ve got trimmings here before,” the former St. Brigid’s manager concluded.
McStay will be demanding a gritty response against Donegal in what promises to be a revealing tussle for both teams.
Westmeath ladies seal narrow victory in Deise contest
Westmeath ladies eventually secured a 2-12 to 2-11 success over Waterford at Nenagh on Saturday. The midlanders impressed during spells of the first half accumulating a 1-6 to 1-4 advantage, but Waterford responded in the closing stages following a smart start to the second period by Westmeath.
Despite some late Waterford pressure, Westmeath were able to land a great score courtesy of Leanne Slevin to earn a valuable victory. Laura Lee Walsh struck a goal for Westmeath, but Waterford’s Aileen Wall responded as the midlanders led by two points at the break.
When the action recommenced, Aoife Connolly netted a second Westmeath goal as they edged seven points clear, but once more Waterford came thundering back. A second Wall major was a boost for Waterford, who drew level in the closing stages, but Slevin remained cool guiding Westmeath to a vital victory. Galway face Waterford this Saturday, while the following week Westmeath’s next game will take place against the Connacht champions.