Kildare may have scored four goals to win last Saturday’s Fr. Manning Cup final fixture at Glennon brothers Pearse Park, but Roscommon manager Paul Staunton was in no doubt whatsoever as to which goal of the four was the most damaging to his team’s prospects of winning the trophy.
“The goals were costly, but particularly their goal just before half time,” he told the Roscommon Herald.
“Had we gone in behind by 1-4 to 0-4 at half time, while we would have been behind and we would be disappointed to only have scored four points, it wouldn’t have been so bad. The second goal just before half time deflated us.
“The third goal was a killer as well, coming originally after Darragh Murray brought us back into the game. The penalty was more damaging, however. Overall the goals were crucial, we both scored 12 times but they got four goals. Two, maybe even three of them were avoidable,” the former Roscommon goalkeeper admitted.
Despite the concession of four goals, Roscommon’s attacking form from previous games could still have been enough to carry the day. But the team simply couldn’t get into that sort of rhythm at any stage on Saturday, as evidenced by the fact that the three inside forwards scored 0-2 between them. Staunton felt that Kildare’s sweeper system stood to them in this regard.
“Kildare had a system of play, based on the sweeper,” he noted.
“He picked up a good bit of ball, but he pushed our two corner forwards very wide, and we would have been playing them more central. Kildare were very advanced on their structures and their systems of play.
“It is something we talked about. We haven’t done as much work on that as other counties. We wouldn’t have a problem with that, we are waiting to work on that whole side of things at U-17 level next year,” he revealed.
Staunton also noted that high goal-scoring has been a feature of all the games played at this age group.
“Admittedly, the first goal came from three of us going for one man and leaving a man free inside — that hadn’t a lot to do with the sweeper. We scored three goals in semi-final we played against Meath. Then you see that Meath scored 15 goals in the group stages.
“We’ve lost two finals — the Ted Webb and the Fr. Manning — and we conceded seven goals in them. It is something that we have to work on. We have to come up with a solid strategy of dealing with our defence, whether that is a defence system or sweeper of some sort, but we will do that,” he vowed.
All of that will go on hold, however, as Staunton and his management team have agreed to give the players some time away from intercounty football, before picking up the baton again around Christmas.
“We’ll give the lads some time out,” he stated. “We will let them go back to the schools, play their schools’ football and get them going again before Christmas.
“Looking back, we played 14 matches this year. We lost two and they were the two costly ones — the finals. But we had to win three matches to get to the finals of both competitions. Eight competitive matches, we lost two and won six, so there are positives.
“We got to the two finals and didn’t play well in either of them. The two second halves were good but we didn’t play well in the first half in either game and we are aware of that. We’ll be digging deep into why that happened before the lads get together again for next year’s (U-17) campaign,” he concluded.