‘Scrap pre-season competitions!’

Roscommon into another final but new manager critical of pre-season approach

FBD Connacht League semi-final Roscommon 3-17 Sligo 2-13

Adam McDermott from Roscommon getting past Sligo’s Darragh Cummins and Nathan Mullen during last Friday’s FBD League semi-final at the Connacht GAA Air Dome in Bekan. Pic: Bernie O’Farrell

New Roscommon manager Davy Burke has bluntly stated that pre-season competitions such as the FBD League are no longer justified and need to be scrapped. He was speaking after his first game in charge of Roscommon, an unconvincing six-point win over a Sligo side that played most of the second half with 14 men. The victory put Roscommon into the FBD League final for the ninth year in a row.

Burke also questioned the value of playing indoors on a synthetic pitch as preparation for the forthcoming National League.

“You would have to ask is this proper preparation for the league. Do you think that ourselves and Tyrone are going to play out a high-scoring game in perfect conditions in two weeks’ time? I don’t think so.

“These competitions are completely unnecessary. We didn’t tog Dara Cregg or Colin Walsh or any of those lads here tonight. They played in the Sigerson Cup on Wednesday night and are expected to come in here tonight and play. It’s just not fair on these young players.

“These competitions need to be done away with and we should be allowed to play challenge games that would suit us. We’d love to be able to play a challenge game on Sunday at our own leisure against opposition of our choice on a grass pitch to prepare for the Tyrone game. Don’t get me wrong, this dome and all that’s here is fantastic, but the scheduling of these competitions is wrong”.

With regard to the game itself the new manager said he wasn’t happy with the overall performance. “It took us a long time to win it to be honest. I was disappointed with a lot of aspects of our performance”.

On a more positive note, Burke added: “Diarmuid Murtagh was fantastic. He is working very hard for us. Keith Doyle was fantastic too and was a real leader from midfield. There were other lads who did well too like Robbie Dolan and Adam McDermott when they came on”.

There was a capacity crowd of about 1,000 people in the GAA Air Dome for what was a typical indoor game, with teams attacking non-stop in the perfect underfoot conditions. With Diarmuid Murtagh back to his best, Roscommon went into a 0-5 to 0-2 lead by the 12th minute. Sean Carabine goaled with a thunderbolt for Sligo in the 13th minute, but on the kick-out Roscommon responded with their own three-pointer from Ben O’Carroll, after a sublime pass from Murtagh. A Pat O’Connor penalty helped the Yeats County into a 2-9 to 1-9 lead by half-time.

After multiple substitutions, Sligo were reduced to 14 men in the 38th minute. With the sides level (Sligo 2-11 Roscommon 1-14) Roscommon found their scoring boots late on, with Keith Doyle – who had a magnificent match – scoring two fine goals, the first after a great pass from Darragh Heneghan.

Roscommon: Colm Lavin; David Murray, Eoin McCormack, Dylan Gaughan; Paddy Gavin, Conor Hussey, Brian Stack (0-1); Niall Daly (0-1), Keith Doyle (2-2); Ciaran Lennon, Diarmuid Murtagh (0-5, 3 frees), Dylan Ruane; Ben O’Carroll (1-2), Conor Cox, Paul Carey (0-3, 2 frees). Subs: Thomas Crean for Hussey (33), Aengus Lyons for Gavin (h/t), Adam McDermott (0-2) for Cox (41), Darragh Heneghan for Ruane (45), Ruaidhri Fallon for Lennon (50), Cian Glennon for Daly (50), Robbie Dolan for Gaughan (55), Ciaran Sugrue for Carey (58), Shane Cunnane for Murtagh (62), Conall Kennelly (0-1, mark) for O’Carroll (62).

Sligo: Daniel Lyons; Luke Nicholson, Eddie McGuinness, Nathan Mullen; Brian Cox, Darragh Cummins, Jack Lavin; Paul Kilcoyne, Pat Spillane (0-2); Joe Keaney, Sean Carabine (1-2, 1 free), David Quinn (0-1, free); Cian Lally (0-1), Pat O’Connor (1-3, 1-0 pen), Donal Conlon. Subs: Chris Flynn (0-1) for Spillane, Kenny Gavigan for D Quinn, Gerard O’Kelly-Lynch for Keaney, Luke Towey for Cox, Mark Walsh for Kilcoyne (all half-time), Eoghan Smith for Carabine (62), Paul McNamara (0-1) for Lavin (62), Evan Lyons for McGuinness (62), Nathan Rooney (0-1) for O’Connor, Niall Murphy (0-1) for Lally (64).

Referee: Chris Ryan (Galway).