Rossies outclassed by Kingdom sharpshooters

 

 

Allianz NFL Division One

Kerry 2-17

Roscommon 0-13

 

 

It didn’t take a genius to work out that Roscommon would be under severe pressure to win on Sunday last against Kerry in the final round of league games, especially when The Kingdom still had something to play for. Roscommon did what they have done in every home game in this league so far: they gave it everything. But in the end it was just not good enough.

  With 23 minutes of the first half gone, a defiant home side were three points to the good (0-6 to 0-3) and had worked really hard to get into that position. But Kerry looked very sharp up front from the opening seconds, and once the brilliant Sean O’Shea blasted the ball past Colm Lavin for their opening goal there was only going to be one winner.

  Kerry were simply too strong up front. The Roscommon defence did well but they just couldn’t contain the likes of O’Shea, the returning David Clifford and Stephen O’Brien, who turned in a mesmerising display and was the ‘man of the match’ on the day.

  Once the Roscommon defensive dam was breached and Kerry led by three points at half-time, it was always going to be an impossible task against the strong wind in the second half. The Kingdom attack showed to all and sundry the full range of their considerable talents as they pulled away in that second period to win comfortably.

  I’m not so sure if this Kerry team are good enough to win an All-Ireland and stop the Dubs with their five-in-a-row bid, but their attack is stronger than Dublin’s. There may be a question mark over their defence, and those questions will be posed and answered later in the year. But it has to be said that some of their forward play was a joy to watch and they have some of the best young attackers that we have seen in the game in many years.

  But what of Roscommon? There were certainly no complaints on Sunday, as they were well and truly outclassed, which is no disgrace against such an accomplished outfit. But the poor displays against Cavan and Galway in this campaign are much more a cause for concern going forward. The facts are that Roscommon are struggling up front and last Sunday was no different. Conor Cox did well again but he had one of his quieter games of the campaign. Roscommon’s best performer was Cathal Cregg but he tired in the second half and was taken off. It was good to see Diarmuid Murtagh back and he looked sharp in his 25 minutes on the field. Roscommon badly need a fully fit Diarmuid Murtagh for the championship.

  It was also strange to see that Enda Smith wasn’t started. He didn’t play well against Galway but he adds strength and dash to the Roscommon attack which is so badly needed. On the plus side, Sean Mullooly had some great moments at full-back in his clash with Tommy Walsh. Ronan Daly continues to impress and he kicked two great points. Shane Killoran tried very hard at midfield while up front only Cathal Cregg and Conor Cox made any real impact. Enda Smith was certainly an improvement when he came on at half-time but Roscommon continue to struggle in the scoring department.

  The table doesn’t lie, and Roscommon will be playing Division Two football in 2020. Most people would rate Roscommon as about number 10 to 12 in the country and that’s about where we are as it stands. It is a pity that Division One status was not retained, and while I am certainly not going to make an issue out of it, the controversial way we threw away a point against Tyrone cost us in the end. Monaghan survived on just four points, the lowest total for a team to stay up in the history of the Division. Another year in Division One would really bring on Roscommon as a team.

  But it’s now time to look ahead, and the next big day is May 12th against Leitrim in the Connacht championship. Roscommon players will work hard under Anthony Cunningham and his selectors no doubt and while no one will be taking anything for granted, it should come down to a Connacht semi-final against Mayo in Castlebar on Saturday, May 25th. Whatever progress is being made (or otherwise) will be laid bare that night.

  The league campaign was a disappointment overall but given the hand that the manager and his selectors were dealt, they have done just about as good as could have been expected.

 

Kerry: Shane Ryan; Peter Crowley, Jack Sherwood, Graham O’Sullivan; Gavin Crowley, Paul Murphy, Tom O’Sullivan (0-1); Jack Barry, Diarmuid O’Connor; Dara Moynihan (0-2), Sean O’Shea (1-5, 4 frees), Stephen O’Brien (1-2); Kevin McCarthy, Tommy Walsh, David Clifford (0-5, 3 frees).

Subs: Killian Spillane (0-1) for McCarthy (5), James O’Donoghue (0-1) for Walsh, Jason Foley for Sherwood (52), Mark Griffin for Crowley (57), Conor Geaney for D Clifford (66).

 

Roscommon: Colm Lavin; David Murray, Sean Mullooly, Conor Daly; Conor Hussey, Niall Daly, Ronan Daly (0-2); Tadhg O’Rourke, Shane Killoran (0-1); Niall Kilroy (0-1), Cathal Cregg (0-1), Ultan Harney; Donie Smith (0-2 frees), Conor Cox (0-4, 4 frees), Aengus Lyons.

Subs: Enda Smith for Lyons (h/t), Diarmuid Murtagh (0-2, 1 free) for D Smith (45), Conor Devaney for Kilroy (47), Hubert D’Arcy for Cregg (57), Gary Patterson for N Daly (67).

 

Referee: Anthony Nolan (Wicklow)