Maughan era ends with lame derby defeat Allianz National Football League Division 2 Westmeath ………….. 1-14 Roscommon …………… 0-6 Seamus Duke In front of a big crowd in Kiltoom last Sunday, Roscommon footballers were given another heavy beating, this time by a very ordinary Westmeath team, in the latest round of what is turning out to be a disastrous National Football League campaign. After it all came the news on Monday night that John Maughan and his selectors had taken the decision to resign after this latest setback. After the nightmare of the 24-point beating in Crossmaglen by Armagh in the last round, the forlorn hope was that Roscommon might be able to turn the situation around. However this was probably an even worse display than the one against Armagh because the opposition – Westmeath – are a pretty ordinary team, albeit with a few gifted players. They did not need to be any ‘great shakes’ to beat Roscommon, who were shockingly bad throughout. With an away game against Dublin next weekend and a home game against improving Cavan to come, it is almost certain that Division 3 football will be Roscommon’s lot next season, and on the evidence of the recent games, Roscommon do not deserve to be in Division 2. The excellent U-21 win on Saturday was a distant memory as Westmeath ran through the Roscommon defence like a dose of salts and the Roscommon supporters were well on their way home long before referee David Coldrick put us all out of our misery with the final whistle. At least against Armagh, Roscommon were beaten by an exhibition of free-flowing, skillful, attacking football, however in this game Westmeath were a poor outfit who gave the ball away almost every time they got possession. But in Martin Flanagan, Dessie Dolan and Dennis Glennon, they possessed three players who were much better than their Roscommon opponents and that was the difference between the teams in what was a dreadfully poor game of football. Roscommon scored two points from play in the first half and only one point from play in the second half in as poor a performance as I have ever seen from any Roscommon team. The spin-doctors can twist it any way they like, blaming the role of the local media or the role of the Roscommon supporters, but this Roscommon team has lost its way. Despite what John Maughan said since Monday I have not read one line in the local press criticising any Roscommon player – now or at any time in the recent past – and I stated here last week that I have never ever criticised any GAA player. I don’t see any criticism of players anywhere else either, so that excuse is another non-runner. The excuse concerning the U-21 players being tired does not wash because Enda Kenny and David O’Gara were two of Roscommon’s better players against Westmeath. If any member of the Roscommon team management or officials have received personal abuse then I would certainly condemn it. There is absolutely no need for abuse of any kind to be hurled at people, but honest criticism should certainly be entertained. What we saw on Sunday was in marked contrast to the heart, determination, skill and bravery displayed by the U-21 team in their fantastic second-half display against Sligo on Saturday. From the moment this game started Roscommon were in trouble in the full-back line and it was extremely unfair on Anthony McDermott to leave him on Dennis Glennon for almost the entire game. McDermott is a good honest player and a very nice lad but he had a yellow card and a tick against his name early in the game and it was obvious that a change was needed – but it never came. Martin Flanagan, and to a lesser extent David Duffy, lorded the exchanges at midfield from the off and the Westmeath team knew that any Roscommon fouling would be punished by Dessie Dolan, who put on an exhibition of excellent free-taking throughout. Dolan landed two early frees before Roscommon almost conceded a goal in the 11th minute. Dermot Bannon’s flick came off the Roscommon upright and was cleared. Dolan scored another free, from 30 metres, after 13 minutes before the skillful Glennon sped past the Roscommon defence to score a lovely point from play two minutes later. Roscommon then scored their first point when David O’Gara came up from the half-back line to kick a lovely score from 35 metres – but sadly for the Roscommon supporters it was an isolated event. Glennon careered through for another well-taken Westmeath point before Ger Heneghan kicked a Roscommon free over from 13 metres in the 26th minute. But Westmeath were playing better, and with Glennon causing havoc up front, they were always able to get a few vital points. Jonathan Dunning (who was Roscommon’s best forward) scored another Roscommon point but that was cancelled out by Alan Mangan to leave the score 0-6 to 0-3. Roscommon then missed two scoreable frees from Ger Heneghan and Senan Kilbride which would have narrowed the gap to one and Roscommon were to rue those misses. A minute before the break Paddy O’Connor was caught in possession. The ball was quickly passed to Glennon and the Tyrellspass man sped past Anthony McDermott, rounded Geoffrey Claffey and planted the ball in the Roscommon net. On the stroke of half-time a Dessie Dolan pointed free left it Westmeath 1-7 Roscommon 0-3 at the break. Gary Cox pointed two frees for Roscommon on the re-start but the writing was on the wall for the home side, even at this early stage. Dessie Dolan replied with two mighty frees from long-range to restore their advantage. Ger Heneghan kicked a nice Roscommon point from play in the 13th minute of the second half, but incredibly it was to be Roscommon’s final score of the game and the exchanges became even more scrappy as the game meandered towards its inevitable conclusion. Even the introduction of Seamie O’Neill and Frankie Dolan as late substitutes did not improve matters for Roscommon because the game was over as a contest at that stage. Dessie Dolan (2 frees), his brother Gary (a fisted point) and two points from wing-back Michael Ennis finished the scoring in a game which is certainly an early contender for ‘the worst game of the year’ award. Roscommon now face relegation to Division 3 and they have the daunting prospect of a trip to Parnell Park on Saturday next in their second last league game – without a team manager. It is not in anyone’s interest to see Roscommon football in turmoil again and the next few weeks will present the county board with a huge challenge to find an interim management given that there are two league games and a championship game against Galway ahead. Roscommon: Geoffrey Claffey; Paddy O’Connor, Anthony McDermott, Seanie McDermott; David O’Gara (0-1), Enda Kenny, David Keenan; Karol Mannion, Mark O’Carroll; John Tiernan, Gary Cox (0-2), Cathal Cregg; Ger Heneghan (0-2), Johnny Dunning (0-1), Senan Kilbride. Subs: Michael Finneran for Tiernan, Seamus O’Neill for Kilbride, Frankie Dolan for Cregg. Westmeath: Gary Connaughton; Doran Harte, Kieran Gavin, John Keane; Michael Ennis (0-2), Derek Heavin, Damien Healy; Martin Flanagan, David Duffy; Damien Kelly, Dessie Dolan (0-8), Donal Donoghue; Alan Mangan (0-1), Dennis Glennon (1-2), Dermot Bannon. Subs: Gary Dolan (0-1) for Kelly, Tommy Cleary for Bannon, Padraig Leavy for Duffy, Mark Gorman for Mangan, Peter Tormey for Glennon. Referee: David Coldrick (Meath).