Kevin McStay joked that the finish against Meath took five years off his life. Suffice to say that the Roscommon manager is heading for the retirement home if things keep panning out like this. Yet the general consensus was that his team had responded magnificently to adversity. But nobody will be getting carried away with themselves given the way Tipperary were allowed to erect what seemed like a match-winning platform.
“The desire shown by our lads towards the end of two National League matches for the first week in February is what I’m going to take out of it,” he stated under the main stand at Semple Stadium.
“A young team under huge pressure with the game gone from them, the easy thing would have been to pack up and go home. But we’re fading away when the game is on the line and then it takes a miraculous effort to get back into it,” he accepted.
McStay felt that fresh legs injected much-needed impetus into the Roscommon performance.
“We were very slow to learn the lessons of last week. The win is great. I’m very proud of the fightback but we certainly won’t be letting that paper over the cracks in terms of how we ended up in that position.
“There was no way that Tipperary were nine points the better team than us at one stage. But to our eternal credit, we kept playing, we kept fighting and we got an amazing result. There were some super scores. I thought that our subs brought a lot of energy to the game this week, which we failed to do against Meath. So maybe we learned that lesson,” he quipped.
When pressed about his team’s high turnover count, McStay agreed that the malaise had to be eradicated going forward.
“It’s the key issue that’s stopping us from becoming very competitive. If we keep giving away the ball 30 times in a match, it is so hard to build a framework for success. We’re not paying enough attention to it, not giving enough of respect to the ball, and we don’t have the size in the team to win every kickout.
“But we adjusted and we fought awful hard after the break. That was the bit I questioned them on at half time. I didn’t see that aggression on the breaking ball in the first half. Then, in the last 15 minutes when you get some momentum, everyone wants to go after it. But as I said, we won’t let this fool us and we’ll have a lot tape to look over this week.
“I know that the Meath match was important but everyone inside our dressing room was looking at Tipp as being the key game. We’re now in a very decent position. We’ve a home match next but we have to build on today. If we don’t get something out of next weekend’s game, then this result won’t count for a whole lot,” he explained.
When Tipperary surged 3-9 to 0-12 ahead after 64 minutes, McStay admitted that he didn’t see a way back for his side but added that the competitive nature of the division dictated that games were always likely be close.
“I thought it was gone but Ger (Dowd) and Liam (McHale) on the sideline felt that Tipp had a lot of hard running done and that we were still in with a shout. But a lot of our lads were cooking with 20 minutes to go. We got those lads off and got a lot of energy in. Donie (Smith) put his hand up when he came on. He got on a lot of ball. The Dalys definitely gave it more drive.
“Everyone is doing good things but everyone is doing silly things as well. Until we get that balance right, all these matches are going to give us heart attacks. There’s nothing in them and there will be nothing in it next week (against Down). That’s the nature of Division Two. Generally speaking, every team are of equal calibre,” he remarked.
Tipperary boss Liam Kearns, a former selector with Roscommon, praised Sunday’s opponents for not throwing in the towel and cited their finishing power as the key to their success.
“With less possession, Roscommon showed us how to finish there at the end. They kicked some excellent scores. It’s a harsh lesson for my boys, but we’ll go again.
“It was a killer and it wasn’t something that looked like happening. In fairness to Roscommon, they kept going. They never gave up and got their reward,” he concluded.