After a strange year, there’s much to look forward to in 2016 – Tony Mac Column

As we bring down the curtain on 2015, on reflection, it has been a strange year in Roscommon GAA circles. We had a very successful National Football League campaign (please don’t mention the FBD League title!) culminating in promotion to Division One.

  A lot of people might say that to be playing in Division One might be a poisoned chalice for the new management team but I think that while it will be tough, it is great to be looking forward to playing the likes of Dublin and Kerry and all the other top teams in the New Year.

  It can only be positive and we will know where we were coming from and where we are going this year with our senior football team. But let’s be honest here, our championship campaign in 2015 was a complete shambles.

  The loss to Sligo was a disaster and Sligo’s subsequent display against Mayo showed exactly what standard they were. I know the league is bread and butter stuff, but being competitive in the championship is where it’s at and unless we get back to that mentality we are going nowhere.

  John Evans eventually decided not to let his name go forward for another term as senior team manager and so he departed after a successful stint. There is no doubt that John Evans did good work here and deserves credit for that, but ultimately his denial that we had serious problems in the championship led to the end of his term. His subsequent interview on RTE Radio did not enhance his reputation.

  Both sides gained from his presence and it should have been left at that. The new management face a huge but exciting task at developing this young team, there is no doubt that we have plenty of talented young players but history has shown that success at U-21 level does not always lead to success at senior level.

  Everyone in Roscommon GAA is looking forward to 2016. Our U-21 side had a good 2015 and we won the Connacht title in style but we failed to a teak-tough Tyrone side in the All-Ireland semi-final.

  I like the mentality in the U-21 set-up, which is that the Connacht title is not the be all and end all of their ambitions. It means that the U-21 team would have been disappointed with the year as a whole. In 2016 we have another very good U-21 team in prospect and I am sure Mark Dowd will get the best out of his squad.

Return of Clann

At club level 2015 was all about Clann na nGael who had a great end to the year after a shaky start. They eventually won the county senior title edging out Pearses in a dour enough final.

  As I have been saying all year, any team who beat St Brigid’s deserve to win the county title. They have been brilliant champions and the dominant club team in Roscommon for the past decade, so it was always going to take an almighty effort to oust them. 

  Clann will look back at that memorable day in Kiltoom when they beat the champions in the semi-final as a major achievement in their history. Clann struggled in the county final but they deserved their title and they produced a very competitive display against Castlebar in the Connacht Championship, and with their excellent U-21 success, they will be the team to beat in 2016.

  I have no doubt that there will be plenty of hard training in Kiltoom next year as St Brigid’s try to wrestle back their crown.

 Happy Christmas

Finally, I would like to wish all Roscommon GAA people and indeed Roscommon people everywhere a happy and enjoyable Christmas and a sporting and successful New Year.