Next-door neighbours are streets ahead

 Roscommon footballers, competitive against both Tyrone and Donegal, were simply blown away by a powerful Mayo outfit in this one-sided league match played before a huge crowd at MacHale Park on Saturday night. Any doubts about the gap between the top sides in the country and those counties further down the food chain were dispelled once again, as the home side coasted to a very easy victory. This latest result condemning Roscommon to a third league defeat in a row and now relegation seems inevitable for Kevin McStay’s men unless there is a miracle over the next few weeks.

 

  Roscommon did well in the first ten minutes, but once Mayo started to flex their muscles and open up, it was curtains for the visitors, who battled bravely but who were totally overwhelmed and overpowered in all departments.

  In fact, after Cillian O’Connor’s penalty in the 38th minute, which saw the gap between the teams increase to nine points, the game was over as a contest and Mayo were in second gear as they free wheeled to victory.

  There were problems all over the field for Roscommon but principally at midfield and in defence. The kick-out strategy (if one exists) is not working at all, and at one stage in the first half Roscommon lost eight kick-outs in a row. It meant that Mayo had oceans of possession and they were able to score almost at will. The difference in the power and strength of the Mayo players in the tackle was also a major factor. Too often Roscommon players were brushed aside as Mayo drove on. Six years at the top in the game has meant that the Mayo players are conditioned to the maximum and Roscommon simply couldn’t cope.

  There were some positives. There were a couple of missed goal chances and a total of 0-14 was a good one. But even if those goal chances were scored it would not have made any difference as it must be remembered that Mayo shot 15 wides and missed a few goal chances themselves.  

  Nevertheless, Enda and Donie Smith, Ciaráin Murtagh and Conor Devaney did well up front and never gave up the fight. Further back, there were problems aplenty but Niall McInerney was superb at corner back. He had a great battle with Andy Moran who was called ashore eventually.

  But Mayo’s strength in depth is phenomenal. They could use two All Stars off the bench (Lee Keegan and Brendan Harrison) and three of their subs (including Harrison and Keegan) scored two points apiece. They still have Aidan and Seamus O’Shea and Tom Parsons to come back into their team as well. It’s an embarrassment of riches!

  The chasm that exists between Roscommon and the likes of Mayo is enormous. Apart from that, Roscommon have lost too many players from the panel in the space of 12 months. There is no team in the country that would be able to withstand the loss of 10 players and be able to compete. The lads that we have are doing their best but it’s an almost impossible task for them to compete at this level at the moment.

  The savage and totally unfair criticism of the management, which was thrown at them from one particular quarter at the weekend, does not help anyone. I would make that statement regardless of what management team was in place. Are we going to descend into another major row only a few months after the last one? What usually happens in Roscommon is that we get totally carried away when we win a few games. Then when we lose a few games the knives are out immediately. It makes absolutely no sense so let’s calm down.

  It doesn’t get any easier though. Kerry are next up and Roscommon will have to sort out some sort of a kick-out strategy because that has hurt the side in all three games so far. We are still no closer to solving the midfield conundrum either and surely it’s time to see what Thomas Corcoran can do in that sector. It’s worth a try to see how he gets on. The news that Niall Daly is now off the panel is very disappointing. We can ill afford to lose players of his strength and ability.

  The Mayo game is now over and next Sunday Roscommon face Kerry in Dr Hyde Park. Kerry have now lost two games out of three and need the points. It will not be easy, but it is not an impossible task for Roscommon. We saw Donegal grabbing a draw with Dublin last Sunday and Monaghan going to Killarney and winning. The Roscommon players and management must put their heads down and work as hard as they can. It’s not a great situation to be in but people will have to try and have patience. But we cannot get away from the fact that this was a disastrous outing for Roscommon. So many times we have travelled to MacHale Park over the years and come back with our tails between our legs and this was another bad, bad day. Rule Mayo out in 2017 at your peril.