Monday, February 26, 2018

Louth captain Andy McDonnell under pressure from Roscommon’s Ciaráin Murtagh during Sunday’s league clash in Drogheda. Picture: Arthur Kinahan



A good weekend for Roscommon in terms of doing their stuff in Drogheda and results going their way elsewhere. When Kevin McStay examined the league table on Sunday evening, he will have noted that his team’s destiny remains very much in their own hands. But while there was plenty of back slapping and encouragement emanating from the Roscommon dressing room following Sunday’s 12-point victory, the focus quickly switched to what has now become a defining contest against Clare in Ennis on Sunday next.

“The only thing we could control was our own two points. At half time, we were certainly in a dogfight but it was a great reaction by the lads. We’re really happy to get the two points here in Drogheda but I’m happier that our scoring difference has received a boost as well. A few of the other results appear to have gone our way.

“But everything moves to Ennis now. That’s the nature of this league. This game is over, we move on and Ennis becomes the match for us,” he explained.

Scoring 22 times pointed to an easy day at the office but McStay felt that Roscommon had it all to do at the break and was delighted by his side’s subsequent response to adversity.

“We were up by four at half time, not playing particularly well and facing a stiff breeze. We were struggling in certain areas of the field, particularly at midfield. We were revving ourselves up for a battle at half time. Thankfully we got the early scores in the second half and we settled after that.

“It was a great reaction. I’m really happy with the contributions of the lads that came on. We’re in decent shape going to Ennis but everything rests on the Clare match now.

“I thought today would be the day for us to get safe but this weekend’s results have pointed us in the direction that if we get another result next weekend, it would put us in a very powerful position. What happened here was lovely but it’s over now. We have a blank canvass on Tuesday night (at training),” he continued.

When it’s put to him that the team contained numerous changes from the side that were defeated by Down, the Roscommon manager pointed out that the bulk of the players on the panel were of a similar standard and that the team had been picked based on form.

“There were certain positions that had to be tidied up. I don’t see these changes the same way the public or even the media do. We have a very even group of players. One week someone shows a bit of form and they get in.

“Ross Timothy and Cathal Cregg were showing form, so they deserved their chance. Unfortunately Ross got injured and it just didn’t happen for Cathal but there will be other days. I thought James Featherston cracked on today. We know Cathal Compton has the potential to become the player we know he can be.

“So I’m happy with a lot of things but yet totally frustrated with some of the things we’re doing. I can’t believe it with some of the talented players we have. Some of the fumbling, misdirected passing and lack of energy at times is nearly sinful,” he illustrated.

The midfield conundrum won’t go away though, but the manager pinpointed the return of some key players in the coming weeks as a way of getting a much-needed physical presence into the team.

“Cathal Compton is a natural midfielder, as is Tadhg O’Rourke. Enda (Smith) and Ian (Kilbride) aren’t particularly natural midfielders. Yet they’ve done brilliantly for us. They’re sacrificing their natural game.

“Everyone knows that midfield is a challenge for us at the moment. But we’ll get Tadhg O’Rourke back to full fitness because he has a brilliant attitude. Hopefully Cathal (Compton) can maintain his progress. Hopefully Ultan (Harney) will start creeping through — maybe next weekend, I’m not sure. So then the team begins to look sizeable because these are all big men,” he concluded.

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