We’re up and running. There weren’t any huge shocks in the first round of games in the Hodson Bay Hotel Roscommon SFC, with the success of an injury-ridden Michael Glaveys side possibly the only outcome that wasn’t widely predicted. However the quality of the fare on show was very decent, particularly in Kiltoom where St. Brigid’s edged out Strokestown in a fantastic battle, so the challenge for the first Roscommon Herald Team of the Week of the 2022 season wasn’t who to include, it was who to leave out!
Goalkeeper: Darren O’Malley (Michael Glaveys)
There were no real standout performances in this position, but O’Malley did a decent job with his kickouts and then delivered a vital save at the start of the fourth quarter of their game against Elphin, denying Gerry Cregg what would have been an utterly vital goal.
Right Corner-Back: Jack Casey (Oran)
Traditionalists would appreciate the fact that Casey looked after his defensive duties first and foremost, and when we see that the starting Roscommon Gaels forward line scored just three times from play, that box was ticked. However it was in driving forward that Casey really stood out, breaking tackles and ensuring that Oran’s counter-attacks were full of pace and purpose.
Full-Back: Darra Pettit (Clann na nGael)
Even in the modern game where positions are fluid, performances in the full-back line have to be viewed in the context of a player’s direct opponent. Pettit held Diarmuid Murtagh scoreless from play, and if you want to beat St. Faithleach’s, that’s a pretty good starting point. In the absence of Fearghal Lennon, Clann got leadership and control from their full back on Friday.
Left Corner-Back: Conor Lohan (Pádraig Pearses)
Last year, Lohan only muscled his way into Pat Flanagan’s plans as the year went on. An injury to Anthony Butler bumped him up the pecking order this year but he has seized his chance with both hands, producing a performance that was full of energy and abrasiveness against Tulsk.
Right Half-Back: Stuart Daly (Michael Glaveys)
We could have gone a couple of routes here – Conor Harley did well for Pearses in the number five position, David Murray likewise beside him at centre back, while Strokestown’s Keith Murphy also very influential in this sector. Daly lined out at six for Glaveys but he squeezes in after putting in an excellent shift both going forward and in defence, not to mention snatching a vital goal.
Centre-Back: Cathal Cregg (Western Gaels)
He’s no longer a county star, but there’s no doubt that the long-time veteran could still do a job for whoever replaces Anthony Cunningham in 2022. Western Gaels didn’t get the result they needed on Friday but even after their catastrophic start, Cregg drove them forward continuously, chipping in with three points of his own.
Left Half-Back: Paul McGrath (St. Brigid’s)
McGrath has been in a lot more of these teams than most players, and he picked up where he left off on Saturday evening. Two good points crowned an energetic, intelligent display from a very effective player.
Midfield: Conor Daly (Pádraig Pearses)
There’s an element of ‘representation’ to this selection, and not just because Pearses were so good that the least they should have on this week’s list is two players. It’s also to reward their complete dominance of the Tulsk kickout, which involved a lot of players, but Daly as much as anyone. Two good points, including a vital settling score early on, tips the scale in his favour narrowly, with Roch Hanmore a little unlucky to miss out.
Midfield: Ultan Harney (Clann nan Gael)
A little bit of cheating here in that Harney was nominally centre forward in the Clann team on Friday, but there were a lot of good centre forwards on display over the weekend, and Harney’s role was such that midfield was a logical landing spot, and that he utterly had to be included. If you want to go into battle, you want this man with you, and he demonstrated exactly why yet again.
Right Half-Forward: Ciaráin Murtagh (St. Faithleach’s)
The second of four players on this team that officially lined out at centre forward, but like Harney at midfield, Murtagh is right at home in the number ten jersey. A lot of St. Faithleach’s players struggled to hit the high notes in their first senior game in three years, but not Murtagh, who was their main scoring threat.
Centre-Forward: Shane Cunnane (St. Brigid’s)
No-one would look at Shane Cunnane and say that he’s one of the younger players on this team, as he was very much the natural leader on the field against Strokestown. He won 50/50 balls, his distribution was superb, he was a kickout target, and then chipped in with five points of his own for good measure. It was a masterclass of centre forward play.
Left Half-Forward: Charlie Carthy (Oran)
Okay, seven of his eight points came from frees. But the challenge for Oran against their neighbours wasn’t showing sufficient quality, it was showing sufficient steel to make sure they won the game. Carthy’s ice-cool composure with his opportunities was central to that.
Right Corner-Forward: Ben O’Carroll (St. Brigid’s)
One could only sympathise with Colm Neary, who in his first ever senior championship game for his club, was handed the task of marking O’Carroll at a time when the diminutive corner-forward was unmarkable. His footwork and finishing was sublime, and there was plenty of pressure on too, particularly in the second half when he shot four from play even though Strokestown were coming like a train.
Full-Forward: Diarmuid McGann (Strokestown)
Club form in 2021 earned him a county call up at the start of this year, and while that didn’t work out as he had hoped, McGann has picked up right where he left off with Strokestown. Brian Stack was as tough a direct opponent as he’ll meet all year, and he got the better of the battle generally, not to mention scoring a glorious solo goal.
Left Corner-Forward: Daire Cregg (Boyle)
Boyle will feel more than a little hard done by that they only get one player in this team after recording a very good win, but in truth their performance was steady across the board, with the exception of their mercurial young attacker. Immaculate, composed finishing yielded 2-5, 2-3 from play and two marks. In a team laden with attacking talent, he still stood out.
*Compiled by Kevin Egan