Monday, June 24, 2019

Last year’s Connacht title success provided a much-needed boost for ladies’ football in Roscommon after a series of near misses in previous years. But to be able to back that up was important, and manager Michael Finneran was delighted that his charges managed to deliver a second provincial crown in the space 12 months.

By Martin Wynne

“That was a big thing for this group,” Finneran told the local media shortly after his side’s 3-12 to 2-9 victory at Elverys MacHale Park.

“Last year was huge. But I think this one is going to be even bigger for them.

“No longer can they be called a flash-in-the-pan. They would have been playing second fiddle to the likes of Sligo for years. So they’ve turned that around as a group and it’s massive for them. Please God they will use it as a springboard to move on to greater things,” the St. Dominic’s clubman said.

Roscommon ran out relatively comfortable winners in the end by a margin of six points. But the heavy lifting had been done during a six-minute spell either side of half-time, when they outscored their opponents by 3-2 to 0-2.

“Those goals were sweet,” Finneran admitted. “They were moves that we had worked a lot on in training. So it’s great to see them coming off on game day. It’s just a testament to the girls and the way they stuck to the game plan, and kept on implementing it no matter what kind of pressure was coming at them.

“The goals were big, but they are in every game. Sligo were always going to come back at us and we gave ourselves that cushion luckily enough. If we hadn’t got those goals it could have been much tighter.

“It gave us that bit of breathing space, and it made it harder for Sligo because towards the end we knew they had to go for goals,” he reflected.

The Roscommon defence did indeed come under a bit of pressure during the dying minutes. But they got plenty of players back and dealt comfortably with the Sligo threat. It was in keeping with an overall performance that their manager was pleased with.

“It was quite a measured performance by us,” Finneran noted. “We got our noses in front early and we struck for the goals when we really needed them. We defended well. So, overall, it was very good against a team that has caused us a lot of bother a couple of times this year,” he summarised.

Roscommon full-forward Jenny Higgins has been one of the stalwarts of the team for the past ten years. During that time she has experienced many disappointing days in the Primrose and Blue jersey. So it is fitting that her dedication has now been rewarded with back-to-back provincial titles.

“It was amazing to win it once. But to go back-to-back was the real challenge,” she maintained.

“After losing to Sligo twice in the league, questions were asked as to whether it was a fluke last year. Thankfully we put that to bed today and showed that we are the best team in the province.

“To win it a second time just shows the consistency, hard work and dedication that the team puts in. The players have always been there. But, for me, I think the management team that has been brought in has brought a whole new professional level to it.

“Even this year it’s been upped again,” Jenny continued. “They have massive standards and they make us expect high standards of each other. We’re very well looked after as a team as well.

“Someone who doesn’t get a lot of mention is Shane Monaghan, who is our strength and conditioning coach. He has us in tip-top shape. You could see it out there today. That’s down to all the hard work he puts in, and Mike (Finneran) and all the management team behind the scenes,” the Western Gaels player commended.

 

Jenny Higgins and Natalie McHugh celebrate Roscommon’s Connacht final success against Sligo at Elverys MacHale Park. Picture: Michelle Hughes/Walsh

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