Roscommon footballer, Cathal Cregg, is looking forward to a tough test in the familiar surrounds of Carrick-on-Shannon this Sunday. He says that Roscommon need to improve on their New York showing if they are to progress in the Connacht Championship.
A big game is on the way in Pairc Sean Mac Diarmada. Do you like playing there?
We have played in Pairc Sean many times over the years in underage games and in senior games too. We played an FBD League final there too a few years ago, so we know it well. But playing there in the championship is not easy and we have had a few tight games there over recent years. Leitrim have turned Roscommon over in the championship a few times over the years and the atmosphere can be very hostile there, so we will be well warned.
What happened to Roscommon in New York –was it complacency?
I don’t think it had anything to do with complacency. We prepared well and in fairness to them (New York) they had a few very good players. They were well prepared and people can be a bit disrespectful to New York. I know that the teams that they put out from year to year can be a bit random but they had a very good side out the day we played them and we just lost our way towards the end of the game.
Were you shocked that the game was so close in the end?
We were quite comfortable in the game for a long time and we missed a number of goal chances, which cost us. If any one or two of them went in we would have won comfortably.
Fair play to New York, they were always capable of kicking a couple of good scores. But in the 61st minute we were six points ahead and in most cases we would see it out, but they hit a purple patch and we were certainly in trouble at that stage. I wouldn’t have liked to have seen the game go on much longer the way it was going.
If New York were to keep the players they had this year and add maybe one or two more, they are well capable to causing a shock. They had a number of excellent players this year.
Can you ‘park’ that poor performance and move on now?
I’ll tell you on Sunday evening at 5.30 pm (laughs). It was surely a wake-up call for us and we know that if we go to Pairc Sean on Sunday and put in the same performance as we did in New York we will not be winning the game – and that’s the bottom line. We have got to put in a better performance –and I think we will.
What is the spirit like in the Roscommon camp since the New York game?
We had a week off to go back to the clubs for the championship when we came home but we are back training hard now and all the lads on the panel realise that if we don’t up our game and our performance we will not be coming out on the right side of the result against Leitrim.
Could it be that there is a plus side to all this, as any hype about Roscommon that had been there is now gone?
Yeah that’s definitely the case and that’s good. We had some great wins in Division One. But it finished disappointingly, with the losses to Mayo and Dublin, and the game against Kerry was over at half-time. We thought we would be more competitive than that.
Most people then thought we would beat New York easily and we struggled, so the momentum that we had is gone, but hopefully we can re-discover it for the weekend. But we have been playing very good sides and that will have brought us on. Hopefully we will have learned from the New York game too. We have a young squad and we are learning all the time.
But overall it has been a good year so far and you’re still on track in the championship despite that scare in New York?
For sure. We were raging hot favourites to be relegated in the league and we survived comfortably and we were very happy to have done that. Now it’s the championship and we have to try to progress there as far as we can, starting on Sunday in Carrick.
There have been massive battles between Roscommon and Leitrim over the years and league positions never really made much difference. This one will be the same I presume?
That’s for sure. It will be a huge battle. Leitrim have some really good players. Emlyn Mulligan is back with them and he is a brilliant player. I was in college with Donal Wrynn and he is a great player too. Gary Reynolds and Kevin Conlon are top quality performers too.
It will be an intense battle, take that from me.
There will be a red-hot atmosphere and a big crowd. Pairc Sean is a fortress for Leitrim and we will have to overcome all that.
We will have to be ready, but I think we will be.