Kevin McStay looks ahead to 2018

 

Roscommon manager began last Thursday’s briefing with an update on the Roscommon panel…

 

There is a pre-season panel of 44. A total of 53 were considered but some lads just couldn’t commit for one reason or another, and one of the biggest disappointments is that Neil Collins will not be able to join us. He started a new job in the USA and I can tell you he is heartbroken that he cannot do it (commit) but he has to forge ahead with his career. I haven’t given up hope about him being back at some stage though.

  “That 44 will be reduced to 32 in mid-January and that will be the National League panel. Out of that will come the championship panel later on. With regard to breakthrough players it is very unlikely that we will have another Brian Stack or Caoileann Fitzmaurice because the team is young anyway and there are not any gaps in terms of age. It will take young players a year or two, or even three to break on to the senior team now because of the work that needs to be done.

  “With regard to injuries there is good news about Ultan Harney. We got a very positive scan (back injury) this week and we are upbeat about that. He is back in training. He is looking at mid-January to return, but I am looking at mid-February because we do not want him to get injured again. Cathal Compton and Fergal Lennon are back in full training. Any other injuries we have are very minor.

  “Younger players who have come into the panel and whom we have been very impressed with are Tadgh McKenna, Ciaran Lennon, Ross Timothy and Finbar Cregg. A lot of the players who had played all our games last year were given an extra month off but all of them are back now, Brian Stack is a special case and we are not going to see him until the middle of the league campaign. He is also involved with DCU in the Sigerson Cup.

  “Seanie McDermott has committed for another year but his new business is going well and we will have to see if he is able to commit. He has his living to look after so we will see what happens there. The number of third level committed players has reduced significantly. It was 14 or 15 last year; it’s only 7 this year, which is positive and manageable. Of course we are without our Michael Glavey’s players as well.

  “Peter Domican is back, Cathal and Finbar Cregg and Ronan, Conor and Niall Daly are back and we are really pleased with their effort, attitude and energy. I am really pleased with their attitude but the real test will come when we pick our first serious team and then we will know whether they are here for the long haul, but it’s all very positive so far. We are really pleased with the early effort and we think we are a good bit ahead of where we were at this time last year. I also want to mention Padraig Kelly who played against Offaly in a challenge game the other night and scored 2-2 which is brilliant for him and it is great to see lads putting in an effort and putting their hands up”.

*Gone from last year’s panel are Cian Connolly, Brian Murtagh, Dave Rooney, Thomas Corcoran and Darren O’Malley for various reasons.


Busy winter schedule continues

 

“We made a new appointment, Tom Coleman, who will look after the nutrition side of things and we are very happy with that. I am hoping that Ronan Rogers can continue with our performance analysis but everyone else is still in place.

  “We have three challenge games in December, we have six games in January and four in February so it’s a mad schedule but I say ‘mad’ in a nice way. The players will love it but for managers it’s very tough. Any schedule we (managers) had in years gone by is out the window.  Basically it’s a game every single week and if any player misses out on pre-season then they are in big trouble”.

 

Objectives for the New Year

 

Kevin said that he and his backroom team would respect the controversial “month for clubs” next April before outlining the objectives for the New Year.

“We have agreed that the players will return to their clubs in April for a month if we are not in the league final. If we are in the final it will be three weeks. I understand that two rounds of the club championship will be played in April along with at least one league game.

  “We did a lot of work last year on trying to develop a healthy culture within the group based on energy, enthusiasm and honesty. We have more work to do on that score and we will do that. We have to do far more work on strength and conditioning. We have to get bigger and stronger, we have to improve our tackling, we have to improve our kick outs, and improve at midfield. We have plenty of areas to improve but we are very close now to building a very strong panel. When you add the players that have come back, to the players that were blooded last year we are building a very formidable group.

  “My objectives are that at the end of the league we will have a very strong championship match day 24. The match day 24 will be very hard to get into this year. There will be major competition for places. We have a lot of very good players on the panel. We want to close the gap further on Galway and Mayo and both of them are in Division One. We need to build on what we have done in 2017. We feel we can definitely compete with Galway and we need to bridge the gap to Mayo. That gap is going on for far too long and we need to be competitive with them.    

  “So promotion from Division Two in the league, we go flat out to retain our Connacht championship and then qualify for the Super 8 one way or the other. Those are our goals.

  “With regard to the year ahead, if we can beat Meath and Tipperary in the league, and Leitrim in the championship we will be well on our way to having a good 2018. If we win those three games everything else will look after itself. We want to hit the ground running in the early part of the year this time because last year’s league campaign was very difficult but we have the panel to tackle that this time,” he concluded.

Junior Championship return

Roscommon have not taken part in the Connacht Junior Football Championship for the past number of years but that will change in 2018 and Kevin McStay himself will be the team manager. He explained his reasoning behind his decision to play in the junior competition this year.

  “It will be very important in terms of the development side of the panel and we have agreed with the County Board how we are going to go about it. We are going to put a big effort into it and try to produce a decent team in the knowledge that there has to be a place for players to develop. The junior championship is played from May to July so it is played off very quickly and we will have a real go at that”.

“I’m  predicting a major crisis in the GAA”

There was a long discussion about finance at the county convention and budgets are central to any discussion about the senior team and preparations.

  “Finance is the biggest and most contentious issue that I have in this job. We have agreed and signed off on our budgets for the year with the County Board and you will have seen that there was a big reduction in costs from 2016 to 2017 and the costs will be down again in 2018.

  “Everyone agrees that budgets must be cut, but it presents the biggest problem that we have as a management. On the one hand the County Board and everyone else in the county is pushing for Roscommon to be a force. But if you want to be a top 8 team then you have to have resources. I will say it again this year. We do not own a bulb or a blade of grass to train on and it is a huge issue. Put simply, we have nowhere to train. Now in fairness to the Chairman Seamus Sweeney and the St. Brigid’s club, we have entered an agreement that we will be able to train in Kiltoom for the next three years and that’s signed off and done, and we are thrilled about that. We had to do something.

  “But overall the financial situation is dire and we are only a small county and the situation is only going to get worse because we simply do not have the resources that the bigger counties have. I am predicting a major crisis in the GAA in the future because the smaller counties like Roscommon are simply going to run out of resources. Unless they completely change the financial model of the GAA then I cannot see the smaller counties being able to compete or survive”.