Comfortable win over London, but Burke wants Rossies to now up their game for final

‘We need to do better!’

FBD Connacht SFL semi-final: Roscommon 0-21 London 1-9

Roscommon manager Davy Burke on the sideline during the Connacht FBD League semi-final against London in the Connacht GAA Air Dome last Friday evening. Pic: Bernie O’Farrell

Roscommon manager Davy Burke says his team will need to improve on their current performance levels if they are to have a chance of securing silverware when they meet Galway in this weekend’s FBD Final.

Roscommon senior footballers’ love affair with the FBD League continues into 2024 as a nine-point win over London last weekend ensured a 10th final appearance in a row for the primrose and blue.

Roscommon now face Galway in the decider at the University of Galway Connacht GAA Air Dome on Friday night (7.30 pm).

However, it must be said that it is questionable if Davy Burke and his selectors would have learned anything from a low-key encounter last weekend.

London were competitive, but the circumstances, conditions, and quality of opposition will be a whole lot different when Roscommon face Tyrone in Omagh on Sunday week in their National League opener.

Speaking to the Roscommon People after the win over London, Davy Burke reflected: “We were alright tonight for 20 minutes, but once Daire Cregg went off it all fell apart. I thought that defensively we were miles off the pace. We have a couple of weeks to fix that (ahead of the Allianz NFL). We have players that love attacking but we have to look after the other end of the field”.

A somewhat underwhelmed Burke added: “It (the performance) was okay and that’s about the best I can say. We have another run out next weekend against Galway now. We haven’t been playing challenge games so I hope that Galway will bring a decent side and we will go at it”.

As to how Galway are likely to line out, given that the teams will meet two weeks later in the league, Burke said: “It’s hard to know what Galway will do. I’m sure they will be a little stronger (than they were against Leitrim), but we will have to see. It’s another game for us. There is a cup up for grabs. We will turn up and do our best but we will have to do better than we did tonight”.

Last Saturday, London matched Roscommon for the opening 12 minutes, by which point it was 0-3 apiece. Roscommon then scored six points without reply to open up a gap that was to prove decisive in the end.

London scored a fine team goal in the 30th minute when Ciaran McKeon was on the end of a sweeping move. Burke gave credit to the underdogs’ performance.

“In fairness to London, they played well. They were very well set up. Fair play to them, they respected the competition, just like we did. It’s up to other managers what they do”.

Still, London’s efforts notwithstanding, Roscommon were in cruise control long before the end, with Diarmuid Murtagh and Conor Cox impressive up front.

0-13 to 1-6 ahead at the break, Roscommon ran their bench in the second half and it was good to see Keith Doyle back in action (his fielding was superb at times). Eoin McCormack and Luke Glennon were also excellent as Davy Burke’s men kept London at arm’s length.

Murtagh and Cox kicked some super points but it has to be said that Roscommon never created a clear goal chance in the game. In contrast, London scored one, missed another and had a penalty saved by Conor Carroll in the 50th minute. A plus for Roscommon was the reappearance of Andy Glennon, who kicked two long-range points after his introduction.

Finally, we asked Davy Burke how soon he expects the St Brigid’s players – currently focussed on the club’s All-Ireland campaign – back in the squad.

“In fairness to the Brigid’s lads they have been in with us as much as they could. Look, if they want to play Division One football they will be back fairly quick, but we will see what happens!”.