Allianz National Football League Division 1 (Round 5): Monaghan 2-17 Roscommon 1-13
This was not good. Not good at all. After a very encouraging display against Kerry in the last round this was a heavy defeat for Roscommon and the seven point margin does not tell the full extent of the yawning gap between the teams at Inniskeen last Sunday. The final margin was seven but in truth it could have been fifteen on the balance of play. It all but confirms Roscommon’s relegation to Division Two with two rounds to go. With an away game to Dublin and a home tie against a resurgent Cavan to come, there is a distinct possibility that Roscommon might end the campaign without a single league point.
Monaghan were streets ahead in almost every department and Roscommon needed Darren O’Malley to make two excellent saves in the first half that saved certain Monaghan goals. The fact that the home side took their foot off the pedal in the final five minutes and allowed Roscommon in for a couple of consolation scores took the bare look off the final score, so there are worrying signs for Roscommon ahead of this weekend’s trip to Croke Park and further into the future as well.
Roscommon were so open all through. Every time Monaghan attacked, the Roscommon defence looked in trouble. There didn’t seem to be any cover in front of the Monaghan danger men Conor McManus and Jack McCarron, and both enjoyed considerable success throughout the game. Roscommon were also second best in the middle of the field where Darren and Kieran Hughes dominated possession in that sector. Roscommon also gave away far too many frees in scoreable positions and some of the tackling was very poor. The lack of physicality is a major problem for Roscommon in this type of company. It is also a fact that a number of our players are not fit and a lot of work needs to be done in that regard.
On the plus side, Darren O’Malley was probably Roscommon’s best player he made two outstanding saves and his kick-outs were accurate and more often than not hit their target. Niall McInerney recovered after a dodgy first half to play really well in the second period and he remains our best defender. Enda and Donie Smith were also excellent on Sunday and they carried the game to Monaghan when they could. But elsewhere Roscommon were in trouble and beaten in too many positions.
It is a major worry that the team do not seem to be improving and the gap between Roscommon and the rest of the counties in the division is so big. The two games left in this league campaign will be huge tests of character. A trip to Croke Park on Saturday night is certainly not a very appetising prospect and now after Cavan went to Castlebar last Sunday and won means that they will have something to play for in the final game at Dr Hyde Park. The facts are that it will be a task to get anything out of this league campaign now after the evidence of last Sunday’s display. It’s not time to panic yet but the signs are worrying for sure.
Note: Inniskeen was an excellent pitch and the people there were very friendly etc. but the venue is totally unsuitable to host a major Division One league game in terms of access. It was in a country area and parking and traffic provided many fans with much difficulty. It was also a very hard venue to get to and that fact alone put off a lot of Roscommon people from travelling on the day.