Roscommon manager, Anthony Cunningham celebrated his 54th birthday last Sunday in Salthill as his charges presented him with a Connacht Senior Football title to go with the Leinster Senior Hurling title he had won with Galway in 2012.
Cunningham heaped praise on his players at the full-time whistle last Sunday.
“The second half we showed tremendous courage, you would have to use the word courage. The players really went for it. It was looking a bit rocky there ten minutes before half-time. We dropped off and Galway punished us. They just nailed on five points. And if the wind came up that was going to work against us as well. We just asked that they worked harder (at half-time).
“I’m delighted for the players. We’ve a good bit of improvement to do as you will probably tell me…and you’re right. But we will settle down now after a few days and focus on the Super 8s,” he said.
Cunningham said it was an honour to manage Roscommon to their 24th provincial success and also paid tribute to his backroom team.
“It is just an honour for me. I love being involved in team management and trying to make a contribution. I have to say, in Iain Daly and Mark Dowd I have two tremendous coaches with me and I’m lucky. They are tremendous workers; there is no end to the amount of work they do. And we set up with a lot of work in the gym as well and that might have been missing a bit (in the past)”.
Roscommon were forced to recover from a five-point deficit at the break and the manager believes composure was missing in the first half.
“Winning the breaking ball was poor in the first half, we had a lot of turnovers against us as well. Conditions were tough but we needed to settle down and show more composure. We had a chat about it at half-time and got to the pitch of the game and competed a lot more for kick-outs. We put a lot more pressure on Galway. I think we forced it in the last ten minutes of the first half. (We needed) to get back to our gameplan and stick with it and look to attack up front.
“The Mayo match was a great confidence boost and when we were in trouble there today they went back to that reservoir and said: ‘We have done this before. We haven’t conceded a goal yet’. We were rocked by Galway there before half-time; they are a top class team.
“Our lads were a credit and right through (the team) the Daly brothers, Conor Hussey, Shane Killoran at midfield, Tadhg (O’Rourke) there with a great catch at the end too. So the middle third was vital and (in the second half) we used the ball more intelligently up front. Diarmuid (Murtagh) slipped a goal which really put us in the driving seat. I’m so delighted for everyone and especially the loyal Roscommon fans,” he concluded.