Satisfied yes, but Anthony Cunningham was already turning his attention towards Galway in Salthill on June 16th when he reflected on one of the great Roscommon victories in the modern era. He acknowledged what it meant for the county to finally “get one over on Mayo” after years of disappointment. For Cunningham though, the need to find consistency and ensure that his charges unearth the improvement needed for the next game was paramount.
By Ian Cooney
“It was always going to be difficult coming to Mayo. It was always going to be a tough, tight match. For us, I was just delighted with the performance. We stayed to script really. We got a great start, but Mayo chipped away and brought all of their experience. Thankfully, we held our nerve when it counted at the end,” he reflected.
“You see it out there on the field afterwards. It was astonishing really to see the happiness. The elderly people especially, and the young kids who would have never seen it. That is what the GAA is all about. That’s what performances are all about. But for us it is professional in a way that we have to get a result the next day and drive on,” he pointed out.
The former St. Brigid’s manager went on to talk about periods of the game when Roscommon made some unforgivable turnovers that “weren’t acceptable” in his view but, at all times, the positive and determined attitude never relented in pursuing the desired result.
“When you have Mayo chasing you, and it is their home ground and home crowd, that is even tougher. The challenge is very, very hard. There is nothing asked or spared. But in fairness to our fellas, they showed a great resilience and stuck to the task. It is something we want to build on.
“We knew after our league match here. We were very disappointed with that (result). It was the first day out for us, and we were here under terrible conditions at the end of January. We knew that we could match them for sure.
“But for us Mayo are also an inspiration really. To see where they have got to and Roscommon are just over the border from them. A lot of the guys know each other. So why can’t we aspire to be a Mayo in the future?”
It was always part of the gameplan to strike early, and it will be no different the next day against Galway, according to the manager.
“You play every ball when you are playing the likes of Mayo or any of the top teams, and it will be no different the next day. When we have the ball we want to score and we want to defend better than Roscommon have done over the last few years.
“We’ve worked quite a bit on that. But it is just one match for us. We will reset a bit again in the morning (Sunday) and get ready for Galway. We will take the positives that the boys can do this. But now we have to look for continuity and repeat performances.
“That’s the big trick. It hasn’t been a forte of Roscommon in recent times let’s be honest so we will reset tomorrow and focus in on Galway,” he assured.
Cunningham cited a strong bench as one of the key ingredients in Saturday’s success. Indeed there were mammoth performances everywhere and the manager encouraged his players to climb another few rungs on the ladder and see where it takes them.
“I wouldn’t be in the game unless I loved it. We’re just extremely satisfied that the players produced what they can produce. There’s a long winter behind us but it’s really satisfying to work with this group of players. I think they can go another step or two now, but that’s up to them,” he concluded.