With three minutes to go in this highly competitive Division One game at Dr Hyde Park last Sunday, Ciaráin Murtagh’s excellent penalty reduced the margin between Roscommon and Kerry to just one point (0-17 to 1-13) but that’s as good as it got for the home side as it was Kerry who kicked on again in injury-time to win in the end by six points. The final margin was unfair on a Roscommon side who played some great football throughout but the reality is that after four games Roscommon are now without any points and bar a miracle, relegation is now almost a certainty.
This was a huge improvement on the performance in Castlebar the previous week and there was much to admire about Roscommon’s play. But Kerry were just that bit stronger up front and they found scores easier to come by than the home side. For example, if the excellent Paul Geaney was on the Roscommon team the result would have been reversed.
Roscommon coped much better in the middle of the field and they won an even share of the kick-outs too. The return of Diarmuid Murtagh is also a huge boost to the team and he looked back to something approaching his best when he came on in the second half last Sunday. There will be relief too that Donie Smith’s injury is not as bad as it first seemed and that Ultan Harney and Cathal Compton are ready to return to action.
On the downside, Roscommon conceded far too many scoreable frees although it must be said that Derry referee Barry Cassidy did not have his best day out. Roscommon players, management and fans were incensed at a number of questionable decisions, not least the sending off in the 58th minute of John McManus, when James O’Donoghue was extremely lucky not to have received a similar sanction for his part in that incident. However, at the end of the day the best team won the game and Roscommon are now in an almost impossible situation in the league table. Monaghan and Dublin away are Roscommon’s next two games and it will be very difficult to win either of those. Cavan at home in the final game might well be a dead rubber as the Breffni County are struggling along with Roscommon at the bottom of the table.
Roscommon played well at times on Sunday and up front there were a few goal chances created in the first half but again they were not taken. Cian Connolly had a great first half before having to go off with concussion, Ciaráin Murtagh was back to his best and Donie Smith looked very sharp and it was great to see Diarmuid Murtagh back playing well. Roscommon need him so badly.
Further back, the midfield partnership did well although Enda Smith might be more valuable to the team in the half-forward line. The Roscommon defence were under pressure although Sean Mullooly and David Murray did well but once again 1-19 is a big score to concede. The Kerry full-forward line scored 1-12 which is a worry.
The facts are that Roscommon have now played four games in Division One, they have been competitive in three but have no points to show for their efforts. Hopefully the players are learning from each game that they play in this exalted company. It will be a huge blow to be relegated because there is no doubt that Division One is the place to be playing but sadly now that looks inevitable.
The controversy over the comments by Gay Sheeran last week were a needless diversion for sure in the build-up to this game and was totally unnecessary and unfair and hopefully that will be the end of the off field headlines for this year.
Note: I know that having spent the thick end of €700,000 it would be a bad show if the Dr Hyde Park pitch wasn’t in good shape but it had rained for most of the three days prior to last Sunday and the pitch was magnificent. It is something that we can all be proud of.