New York footballers almost do a Leicester City on Roscommon

All week long we have heard truly terrific accounts of how Leicester City and Claudio Ranieri shocked the soccer world by winning their first Premiership title. From almost being relegated last season, to beating hands down the enormously high spending teams in the league such as Manchester City, Man United, and Chelsea with a collection of off-cuts and rising talents is a tremendous achievement and once again proves what can be achieved by any group of sports players, in any code, if they really knuckle down, start believing in themselves, and get some fair winds behind them.

The difference in financial muscle between the big few clubs and the usual “Also Rans” can be understood by a statistic that Sporting Intelligence had during the week that calculated that Manchester United have spent more on new players in the two-year reign of their current manager, than Leicester have in their 132-year existence. Indeed the fact that Leicester were still 1,000-1 to win the title three months into the season while they were haring away at the top of the Premiership only proves how slow our perception of things is to change, even when a new reality is dawning in front of our very own eyes.

We invariably remain as “Doubting Thomases” until we see the evidence ourselves first hand. No doubt Roscommon joint football managers Fergal O’Donnell and Kevin McStay who had a fine season in division one of the league in Springtime could scarcely believe their senses either last weekend as they watched New York come back to almost beat them in the Preliminary round of the Connacht championship. Despite leading by five points at half time, in the finish the Roscommon men scraped home, winning on a score-line of 1-15 to 0-17. New York were plus 22 points before the game with some bookmakers and the view was that the ex-pat outfit who many believe should not even be in the Connacht championship would barely keep the ball kicked out to their illustrious visitors. It could have been much worse for the Rossies too and the New York manager Justin O’ Halloran was adamant after the game that if they had another few minutes they would have won the tie. “We have a group of bloody good footballers. They can play the system that we asked them to play. They kicked more scores than Roscommon – they had 16, we had 17. We just couldn’t find the onion bag,” he said.

Roscommon will learn from this stern test and despite the genuine scare they got, there are very few who do not expect them to get to the Connacht final in two months time. No doubt they will regroup this weekend and refocus on trying to stop Mayo’s drive for six consecutive provincial titles. Roscommon will face Leitrim in three weeks in Carrick-on-Shannon with the winners from that game taking on Sligo in the Connacht semi-final.

Kevin McStay was pragmatic about what needs to happen now; “There is so much to look at and not a lot of time to get it all right. My hope is that we can turn this around but there’s a hell of a lot of work to do.” Most football people expect Mayo to be victorious again in the Connacht championship, and Dublin to ultimately hoist the Delaney Cup and the Sam Maguire again in September. However as Ranieri and his band of merry men proved so spectacularly in the Premiership this year, happily there can always be Rags to Riches stories in Sport. But only if people truly believe they can make it happen. That is one of the reasons why we love it so much.

Know thy nuts

Testicular cancer is the most common cancer in young males and if detected early can be very effectively treated. From that perspective well done and fair play to GAA stars such as Leitrim’s Emlyn Mulligan and Wexford’s Lee Chin among others who are supporting an educational campaign about testicular cancer called - “Know thy nuts”. While many people will smile and chuckle at that label, I know at least five GAA players who have had testicular cancer over the past few years and have been treated for the condition very successfully due to early detection. Testicular cancer is very much a young man’s disease with males between 15 and 34 most likely to suffer from it. So if you do find anything bothering you such as swelling, or a lump, or anything that does not feel quite right on your testicles, contact your GP as soon as practicable and have it checked out. It is the smart thing to do.

 

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