PAUL HEALY View from GAAGO…
‘Conor Corbett’s deft shot trickled in off the post, slowly, mercilessly, as if to drive home the scale of its significance’
I couldn’t get to Cork last Saturday, only the second of Roscommon’s thirteen big games this season that I’ve missed. It was time for my GAAGO debut, forking out €12 while wondering how it came to this (i.e. paying RTE and the GAA to see Gaelic football) – and where it will all end.
1.30 pm, and the preliminaries for the ‘preliminary’ went smoothly. Email address. Password. Payment. Confirmation that I’m not a robot. A break then, to fret about our fate. As throw-in neared, a few friends texted their thoughts. While confident Roscommon would win, I decided against replying – for fear of creating hostages to fortune. My thought process? Texting back and saying ‘Roscommon to win with a bit to spare’ might actually jinx us. So much for that strategy.
Just before 3 pm, I logged back on to GAAGO. Full disclosure: I’ve never won a ‘technological whizzkid’ award – never even been shortlisted. So, when confronted with a glitch, I predictably struggled with what we will now call GAANOGO.
The great Tommy Cooper told a story of being shortchanged by a barman. Turning to his drinking buddy, Cooper quipped: “It’s not the principle, it’s the money”. By 3.15 on Saturday, I was getting zero value from GAAGO for my €12. Highly frustrating, but to be fair (to me), it wasn’t the money, it was the principle.
Eventually we got connected. Roscommon appeared to be coasting, three points ahead. This was textbook Davy Burke era, Roscommon retaining possession comfortably, picking off nice scores, frustrating Cork, the home team reduced to ill-advised shot selection.
Then the first worry that Roscommon might experience one of those painful days where a team fails to maximise its dominance came when Enda Smith’s goal attempt was parried by Cork goalkeeper Mícheál A Martin. Next, Cork finally found some rhythm, producing a flurry of scores. It was a sickener to be only one ahead at half-time.
Later, hearts sank further when Roscommon missed another goal, Diarmuid Murtagh’s low shot smothered by the Cork ‘keeper. Despair for Roscommon in this game of small margins – and a momentum booster for a home side growing in belief.
Cork now had their best phase. Pressing high on Roscommon, they wrestled control of the game. Cork pressure yielded several turnovers. Suddenly, Conor Carroll must have felt the pitch had shrunk, his kickouts being swarmed on by raiders in red, the Roscommon goalkeeper scrambling to find the open spaces that were no longer there. Sensing Roscommon’s unease, Cork hunted down another kickout and struck for the game’s only goal. Conor Corbett’s deft shot trickled in off the post, slowly, mercilessly, as if to drive home the scale of its significance.
When Roscommon went five down to a now buoyant Cork, all seemed lost. But Davy Burke’s team, to their immense credit, picked off five great scores, sensationally turning matters around. Level in injury-time, they played keep ball, presumably intent on timing a scoring strike when it would be too late for Cork to respond. The approach made sense, but backfired when Conor Daly was adjudged to have fouled the ball. Cork attacked, and Kevin O’Donovan’s score was felt in Roscommon hearts everywhere.
This season, the light shone brightly for so long for Roscommon. Suddenly, cruelly, the curtain fell.