By Ian Cooney
The Rossies invasion of New York in 2006.
When thousands of Roscommon supporters packed their bags for The Big Apple, many being acquainted with the spectacular Manhattan skyline for the first time.
When Rosie O’Grady’s became known as “Rossie O’Grady’s. When Willie Hegarty suffered in silence, having paid into an Irish bar to watch Liverpool win the FA Cup at 9 a.m. in the morning.
When the late Dermot Earley tapped into our spirit and identity as a county with a rousing after-dinner speech following the 1-14 to 0-9 victory, thanks to Ger Heneghan’s late penalty, against the Statesiders.
And when Cathal Cregg made his senior championship debut in the “Primrose ad Blue” jersey on May 14th, 2006 — 14 years ago today.
The Western Gaels forward has been pretty much an ever-present since then with 158 appearances (NFL, championship and FBD League) under his belt. There has been success too with three National League titles in 2014, 2015 and 2018, and two provincial triumphs in 2010 and 2019.
Like a good wine, “Cregger” has become better with age, and was a key part of Anthony Cunningham side’s promotion push from Division Two before Covid-19 intervened.
Remember the blonde highlights earlier in his career or the bearded assassin from 2014?
But the enduring image of Cathal Cregg has been of him gathering possession, putting the head down and taking the most direct route to goal — brushing defenders aside like skittles, or just simply leaving them for dead.
That thunderbolt against Mayo during the first half of last year’s Connacht semi-final, the perfectly weighted pass for Diarmuid Murtagh’s goal in the provincial decider against Galway a few weeks later.
The two-goal salvo off the bench to help Roscommon clinch the Division Two League title at Cavan’s expense in 2018. His performances against the same opposition in an All-Ireland qualifier in 2015 at Breffni Park and against Armagh in the Portlaoise heat three years later. His contribution to the Connacht championship winning performance against Sligo in 2010.
Cathal Cregg has been a “game-changer” in the Roscommon jersey — 158 not out, there will be more to come from Cregger when life returns to normal.