A lot done, a lot more to do – Seamus Duke on Sport

Fergal O’Donnell said afterwards that no one will be getting carried away by the win against Kerry – and he is right – but this was one of the best league wins that the Roscommon senior football team have had in the many years that I have been going to matches – and that’s quite a few.

  Everyone who has ever played a team sport will know just how big a part heart and determination plays in any success and when you add in a bit of skill too you have the perfect combination.

  I am not pretending for one minute that Roscommon are the finished article – in fact it’s very far from that. But the basics are there. All the players are giving 100% for the cause and it was so evident again last Sunday.

  Yes, there were loads of mistakes and in fact Roscommon are still turning over possession of the ball far too often. But they refused to lie down last Sunday and from early in the second half there was no way they were going to leave Killarney without a win. It was brilliant to see and it augurs well for the future. But there is huge work to do.      

  Roscommon lost their first seven kickouts in a row last Sunday and they won just three out of 11 that they had in the first half which is a startling statistic. But they made up for their shortcomings with some brilliant tackling, relentless hard running and covering back and some of the points that Roscommon kicked on Sunday were out of the top drawer in terrible conditions.

  The stars of the show were Enda Smith and Cathal Cregg. Enda didn’t have a great start to the game but he has a mighty engine and he kicked three fantastic points. Cathal Cregg had a poor game by his own high standards against Monaghan but he was brilliant last Sunday and his only blemish was a needless black card 15 minutes from the end of the game.

  Not far behind Cathal and Enda was Seanie McDermott. What a servant to Roscommon football he is. But the likes of Fintan Cregg, Ciaran Murtagh, Cian Connolly and Conor Devaney all played their part too and Cathal Shine made a huge difference when he came on.

  We still haven’t solved the midfield conundrum. I would have Cathal Shine starting and Enda Smith in the half-forward line going forward. But we have some superb players in attack and with Senan Kilbride, Niall Kilroy, Diarmuid Murtagh, Ultan Harney and Donie Shine all to come back into contention for places the attack looks very strong if we can get everyone fit.

  We look well set in the full-back line where Seanie Mac, Niall Collins and Niall McInerney are all playing very well. I was also very impressed with Davy Murray in the half-back line. What a whole-hearted player he is, But there may be a change or two in the half-back line before we are settled on our best team. Seanie Purcell certainly looked very effective when he came in last Sunday.

  Next up it’s Cork away and it is hard to quantify just how important that win against Kerry is for Roscommon going forward. The confidence of the players will be sky high and even though a trip to Cork will be a very difficult assignment the players will be confident that if they can put in the same effort as we saw against Kerry, anything can happen. Certainly survival in Division One is certainly on after what we saw in Killarney last Sunday.

  There is no doubt about it that Division One of the league is where any team that has ambitions of doing well must be playing their football. Even after two games the difference is huge on so many levels. It goes without saying that the standard of football is much higher. But the crowds are bigger the level of interest around the country is much bigger and the media interest is huge. Over the past two weeks Roscommon have been on national TV both Sundays.

  The number one sports story last Sunday evening after the Ireland Wales game was the win by Roscommon against Kerry. There is TV and radio coverage of every game. The national newspapers and all the major sports web sites have reporters at the games. To see the amount of Roscommon people in Killarney last Saturday night was another indicator. The excitement and the atmosphere at the ground was palpable and it was a marvellous experience.

  Now that Roscommon fans have got a taste of the big time I am sure they want more and it would be a marvellous achievement if Roscommon were to survive. I reckon we will need to win two more matches. Cork and Donegal away will be difficult and any game against the Dubs will be almost impossible to win.

 The home games against Mayo and Down look better bets to me. But who can tell what will happen. If you said to me that Roscommon would lose against Monaghan and beat Kerry in Killarney I wouldn’t have believed that it was possible so anything can happen.

  Mayo were much better last weekend against Dublin and they are short a lot of the main players at the moment. But they will have to start picking up points soon. Dublin, Donegal and Monaghan are sailing along and even at this stage they look good for the semi-finals. It looks like the relegation battle will be between Down, Mayo, Kerry and Roscommon even at this early stage with Cork likely to be safe. But there is no doubt about it folks, division one is the place to be!