‘FBD’ ends with another defeat as Roscommon look to National League

FBD League Mayo                 2-14 Roscommon       2-8 A disastrous FBD League for Roscommon finished with defeat against old rivals Mayo on a fine mild afternoon in Ballinlough last Sunday when Roscommon’s patched-up team had to give best to the Green and Red and thus end the campaign with three defeats in a row.   However as I said in the preview to this game last week, the 2008 FBD League has been extremely unfair on the county team managements of the five Connacht counties who have had to try to survive without many of their first choice players and the worry especially for Roscommon now is that all involved are heading into a very difficult league campaign not knowing what their best starting fifteen is.   This was a fairly entertaining game of football played on a surprisingly good pitch (given all the recent rain) and before a decent-sized crowd too. Mayo led Roscommon a merry dance in the first half but a more determined showing by Roscommon in the second half and particularly from some of the younger players on the panel augurs well for the furture.   The St. Brigids contingent had returned from their club holiday to South Africa on Saturday and in fairness to them, four who were on the holiday  (Frankie Dolan, Karol Mannion, Mark O’Carroll and Robbie Kelly) all played some part in the action -however it would be unfair to rate their performances given that they had spent 13 hours on a plane the previous day.   Nevertheless it would also be fair to say that Mayo were also short many of their starting line-up and they dominated the game for the most part, shooting 18 wides over the 70 minutes played. The plus points from a Roscommon point of view were the performances of Anthony McDermott, who certainly is giving his all at full-back, and David Flynn, who played ever so well in the half-back line. But surely centre half-back is the correct position for Flynn? David O’Gara was also impressive in the first half but his strange posting a centre half-back does not suit his style of play.   Jonathan Dunning was also a livewire up front and the Clann na nGael man took his two goals very well while Conor Devanney continues to impress in attack. When he was introduced in the second half Roscommon were far more incisive and the former minor ace is certainly a star in the making if he can maintain this form.   Mayo completely dominated the opening exchanges. With former All-Star Alan Dillon and the experienced Peader Gardiner in great form, John O’Mahoney’s men took control from the first whistle.   By the 25th minute they led by 0-6 to 0-1 with Dillon on the mark with three excellent points and by that stage Roscommon’s only point had come from a Frankie Dolan free.   However Roscommon improved marginally before the break. Karol Mannion got Roscommon’s first score from play in the 30th minute before a bizarre goal in the 33rd minute handed Mayo a further boost which they hardly needed. Brian Benson shot for a point and the ball looked to be going harmlessly wide. Roscommon backs and crucially goalkeeper Mark Miley stopped playing but the ball did not run out of play and was picked up by Mayo corner-forward Mickey Mullins who promptly dispached the ball into the unguarded net.   In fairness to Roscommon they responded immediately. From the kickout Ross Nolan found Senan Kilbride whose pass found Jonathan Dunning inside the Mayo cover and he planted the ball past Shane Nallen with aplomb to leave the half-time score Mayo 1-6 Roscommon 1-2.   Mayo extended their lead inside the first minute of the second half with a good point from Dillon but Dunning scored his second goal for Roscommon two minutes later when he found himself free twenty yards from goal and cheekily lobbed the ball over the advancing Nallen for a very well-taken goal.   The sides then exchanged four points to leave it 1-10 to 2-4 by the 19th minute but then Mayo struck for the goal that ended the match as a contest. Sub Keith Higgins ran sixty metres on a solo run through the Roscommon defence before releasing to Benson who made no mistake from close range. Roscommon brought on Conor Devanney after that and the Kilbride youngster made a very positive difference to the Roscommon attack. He kicked two great points and won a number of frees for his side. However Mayo were home and ‘hosed’ at that stage.   Roscommon now have little over a week to prepare for the start of what will be a very difficult National Football League campaign. Many of the older players were a disappointment last Sunday, however it would be unfair to judge the St. Brigids players who had just returned for their club holiday the night before. We should remember too that there were several prominent Roscommon players not on duty last Sunday – such as Cathal Cregg, Enda Kenny and others – who will surely make a difference to the strength of this Roscommon team.   I have seen the Roscommon senior and U-21 teams play over the past week and I have no doubt that there is a bright furture ahead for Roscommon football as there are several very talented young players in the county at present. It is however clear that the forthcoming National Football League campaign will be a real tough test for this Roscommon senior football team and this FBD League campaign is one that will be erased from the memory banks very quickly indeed. Footnote: Thanks to the Michael Glaveys Club who hosted last Sunday’s game very efficiently and a word of praise too for the pitch which was in great shape despite the terrible weather of recent weeks. Roscommon: Mark Miley; Michael King, Anthony McDermott, Adrian Murtagh; John Tiernan, David O’ Gara, David Flynn; Mark O’Carroll, Michael Finneran; Karol Mannion (0-1), Frankie Dolan (0-2),  Seamus O’Neill; Senan Kilbride (0-1), Jonathan Dunning (2-1), Ross Nolan (0-1). Subs: Martin Reynolds for Finneran, James McKeague for King, Conor Devanney (0-2) for Mannion, Robbie Kelly for O’Gara, John Collins for Dolan.  Mayo: Shane Nallen; Conor Moran, Billy Joe Padden, Liam O’Malley; David Geraghty, Trevor Howley, Caol Cafferky; Seamus O’Shea, Peader Gardiner (0-1); James Gill (0-4), Austin O’Malley,  Alan Dillon (0-7); Michael Mullins (1-1), Enda Varley (0-1), Brian Benson (1-0). Subs: Keith Higgins for Geraghty, Aidan Higgins for Cafferky, James Kilcullen for Benson. Referee: Marty Duffy (Sligo).  At a glance