It was inevitable that there would be a wait. As the post-mortem in the Roscommon dressing room began in earnest, reporters had plenty of time to fiddle with their phones to see how the Irish rugby team were doing in Rome. When the invitation came to finally meet Anthony Cunningham, Jack Carty was just about to earn his first Irish cap.
Deep down, Cunningham would have been delighted for the Carty family, given his residency in the St. Brigid’s club area, but he had enough on his plate. Momentum from the victory against Monaghan and the hard-earned draw against Tyrone had been stopped in its tracks by a Cavan side who played like it was their All-Ireland final. The reality that Roscommon didn’t meet fire with fire didn’t sit easily with the manager.
“The better team won. We don’t have any complaints. We’re disappointed with our performance. It hadn’t the energy level or the application that we’ve seen since the start of the year. Mistakes come from a lack of energy and being off the mark, and we’re just disappointed that we didn’t get up to the level of performance we hoped for today.
“We don’t know (why). These things happen, especially in league matches. If you look at the scoreline, it’s easy to say that it would have been quite close if you took away the goals they got. We were disappointed to give away the goals when we did. They just don’t come from defenders or the goalkeeper, they come from right through the team. But we’ll look at it really, really hard during the week,” he vowed.
Cunningham felt that Roscommon had put themselves into a position and kick on to win the game when they edged 0-11 to 1-7 in front after 42 minutes. But the closing 28 minutes were a nightmare, not helped by the dismissal of Ultan Harney.
“They did dominate but our energy levels were way off. We got into a very good position in the first ten minutes of the second half, only to let it slip again. For us, that’s not good enough, at this level or at any level. We’ll have to learn massively from those mistakes and get ready for next weekend.
“I wasn’t close to it (the sending off). I didn’t see it but, seemingly, it was a very harsh decision, and one we’ll look at and probably look to review because we don’t think there was any contact or any intention to do anything. It was a total surprise to lose a man in that situation, having worked extremely hard. It was always going to be a difficult one to get out of.
“With the breeze and the extra man, Cavan were on a roll. But we must learn from these mistakes, and that’s something we’ve worked hard on since we’ve come in. The players have worked extremely hard but they just weren’t at the pace of the game,” he explained.
Suddenly, the visit of All-Ireland champions Dublin isn’t the enticing prospect that it was a few weeks ago but Cunningham insisted that Roscommon would circle the wagons this week.
“Every day, you’re looking for a performance, and anyone that has a heart or any bit of blood in them will raise their game and be honest about their game, and know that the performance today isn’t what’s required. We fight for two points every day we go out. We don’t really look at the table, to be honest.
“You want to be in Division One, for sure. That’s where the best teams are. That’s where you learn the most every day you go out. We want to be playing the top teams,” he concluded.