Donie spot on to salvage point


Allianz NFL Division Two: Roscommon 2-12 Meath 2-12 

The Verdict

Not for the first time, Donie Smith came to the rescue for Roscommon, this time at Dr Hyde Park last Sunday when he coolly converted a 77th minute penalty to rescue a point for Kevin McStay’s men after a dramatic game that featured several twists and turns.

  Roscommon manager, Kevin McStay, admitted that while Sunday’s draw with Meath was a frustrating result, he was delighted that his team had rescued something from the game.

    “It was a very frustrating result for sure. We led by five and we couldn’t get the lead to seven and eight. We were missing chances, I was worried – tap overs really – and we missed a few goal chances too. I knew that there was a kick left in Meath. They have a lot of work done. They brought in fresh legs and they always keep going. They got themselves into a great position but we got out of jail.

  “We had two points wrapped up mid-way through the second half and with 30 seconds to go we had no point at all. Frustrated not to get two points but hugely delighted to come out of it with a point at the end. What a fantastic penalty from Donie Smith to level it. There was a big delay and there were black cards being issued and we were being pulled and dragged all over the place but that’s what teams do and it’s up to the powers that be to look at that,” he said.

  At the end of the third quarter Roscommon looked to be coasting to a comfortable victory as they led by 1-11 to 1-6, playing with the strong breeze at their backs. But Meath made a number of effective substitutions and they clawed their way back into the game. They scored 1-6 without reply and incredibly by the 67th minute they led by 2-12 to 1-11 and looked like they would bring the points back to the Royal County.

  Finbar Cregg pointed a free in the second minute of time added on, but it looked like it was a consolation score only. But then in the 75th minute, Enda Smith set up Finbar Cregg, who was flattened en-route to goal and it was a stonewall penalty. There was a delay of almost two minutes as referee Barry Cassidy toured the field handing out black cards to Meath players for previous fouls. Under pressure, Donie Smith fired the penalty low and hard to his left, and Roscommon had a precious league point.

  Kevin McStay said that it was important to take positives from the game.

  “Once they got an inkling that they were back in it they drove on and then they got a goal and we couldn’t get any energy into the team. We had too many turnovers but we must be positive. There at the end the likes of Tadgh O’Rourke, Conor Devaney and Sean Mullooly made some savage tackles there to try to keep us in it. We never gave up which was great to see”.

  It was probably a fair result on the day, but McStay and his management team will be very worried at the manner of their sudden collapse in the middle of the second half when it looked like a comfortable win was on the cards.

  In addition, Roscommon missed a number of easy chances to stretch their lead when they were on top and they were off target or players took the wrong option.

  Meath made some great substitutions. Three of their subs scored 1-5 between them while the Roscommon changes did not work and it was a wonder that Donie Smith was not on much earlier than the 66th minute.

  It looked good in the opening half. Ciaráin Murtagh, newcomer Ciaran Lennon and Diarmuid Murtagh were on fire. Enda Smith was looking very sharp and Sean Mullooly, David Murray, John McManus and Conor Devaney were playing well. Mullooly scored a peach of a goal in the 19th minute and at half-time the 1-6 to 1-5 lead looked good with the strong breeze to play with in the second half. Lennon at full-forward was a revelation.

  Five great points in the third quarter saw the Rossies five ahead with 17 minutes to play but they lost their way totally after that. They couldn’t get their hands on the ball and the defence was creaking under pressure. Meath scored 1-6 without reply and Roscommon looked shell-shocked. That they survived to get a point out of this game is a miracle.

  It is disappointing not to have gathered the two points in this match because this is going to be a very competitive division and winning your home games will be a must if promotion is to be a realistic option.

  On the plus side, Roscommon played well for three quarters of the game and thankfully Diarmuid Murtagh is not badly injured. He was playing well and we badly need him up front. But midfield is still a problem and once Meath got a stranglehold on the game late on Roscommon seemed powerless to do anything about it. It was great to get a point out of a game that looked lost. But the third quarter implosion is a worry.

  On to Thurles now and what Kevin McStay decribes as a “massive challenge”.

  “You saw them (Tipperary) on TV on Saturday night but Cork were well in that match too so I wouldn’t be too worried but it is another massive challenge for us”.