Battling display and a step closer to safety!
I knew that last Sunday’s Roscommon v Tyrone game was going to be a tight one and so it proved, and I have to say that on the balance of play I am very happy that Roscommon got a point out of it. It was another super battling display from Anthony Cunningham’s men especially when they were under pressure in the fourth quarter.
Since the weekend a lot of people have been very critical of what Ultan Harney did in injury-time when his clash with Niall Morgan saw the free for Roscommon to win the game overturned by the referee, but I wouldn’t be too harsh on the lad. Yes it was a very foolish thing to do and hopefully he will learn from it but he is a fine young player and we need him on our team. He had scored 1-1 in the game and had played very well. He will have many a good day in a Roscommon jersey in the years to come.
Back to the game itself, and Roscommon were once again brilliant without the ball. They hassled and harried Tyrone at every turn, they ‘out-Tyroned’ Tyrone if you like! The Rossies won almost every kick-out in the first half and once they got motoring in the second quarter they kicked some mighty points. A six point lead at half-time was what the very difficult conditions needed to sustain the expected second half onslaught from Tyrone, and it came too.
It was very difficult for Roscommon in that second half as Tyrone came back. Roscommon started to give the ball away easily and were not playing nearly as well as they had been in the opening half. When Tyrone got the goal to reduce the margin to three with twenty minutes to go I was worried but Roscommon dug in and some of their tackling, blocking and interceptions were heroic with many super performances all over the field.
If you told me that after three games that we would have three points on the board I would have been really pleased with that. Sean Mullooly, Brian Stack, Niall Daly and Diarmuid Murtagh will all be back soon and that will strengthen the team even further.
The really positive thing about this Roscommon team is that while they are defending in numbers, they are not afraid to attack and there are plenty of players throughout the team are prepared to have a shot at goal. Conor Daly and Ronan Daly both kicked superb long-range points in each of the last two games and Conor Cox has really added to our attacking options too.
When we came out of Croke Park after the Super 8 game against Tyrone last August with our heads bowed we had just witnessed Roscommon receive a football lesson and an 18 point beating. It is some transformation in a year.
Next up, Roscommon face Cavan and while the Rossies have a really good record against the Breffni men in recent years it is a game fraught with danger. Roscommon will be the favourites going into that game and we are not good when we are carrying that mantle. However, a win would put us within touching distance of survival in Division One. What an achievement that would be. Roll on Breffni Park!
Is there hope for football after all?
Elsewhere in the league last weekend, we saw evidence that there may be hope for Gaelic football after all as Kerry and Dublin treated the watching TV public and everyone else in Tralee on the night to a thrilling game. Kerry pipped their great rivals in the end but it’s not time for panic stations in Dublin yet. One thing we did learn is that Kerry have a very good young team on the way up. They played some fantastic football at times.
Galway surprised most pundits by going to Iniskeen and winning against Monaghan. It puts Kevin Walsh’s men in a very good position.
Mayo were impressive against Cavan and won with a bit in hand. The one worrying thing from a Roscommon point of view is that Cavan must win against Roscommon on Sunday week or they are certainties to be relegated.
Further down the divisions, well done to Leitrim who are sitting on top of Division Four after three wins. There is a long way to go but it would be great to see them promoted to Division Three.
EPL heats up and LOI kicks off
What a Premier League title race we have now. Liverpool got back on the winning trail last weekend with a very good display against Bournemouth and then City answered them by hammering Chelsea on Sunday. Now Liverpool play their game in hand against bitter rivals Manchester United on Sunday week.
Two months ago United would have had no chance against Liverpool but things have changed since. The way United are playing now they will not be afraid of playing Liverpool and they would enjoy nothing more than beating them at Old Trafford. What a game that promises to be. Liverpool are still the slight favourites to take the title but there will be plenty more twists and turns before it’s over.
Here at home, the League of Ireland season starts this weekend. Roscommon people will, once again be taking a special interest in the performance of Cork City under John Caulfield. But in truth it’s hard to drum up much enthusiasm for the campaign as the local Irish club scene continues to be neglected by the FAI who are only interested in the international scene.
Ireland back on track in Six Nations
The Irish rugby team got their Six Nations championship challenge back on track with a fairly easy win against Scotland last Saturday but the injury list is beginning to soar and our World Cup prospects are looking worse with every passing week. I know there is a long time to go but a lot of the Irish players like Conor Murray, Johnny Sexton, Rory Best and Rob Kearney have so many miles on the clock and they look jaded even at this early stage in the year.
Another worry is the form of England who really hammered France last Sunday and now look like a side that can challenge for the World Cup in Japan. It’s unlikely that anyone will stop them in the Six Nations at this stage. Hopefully Ireland will get their ‘mojo’ back but it’s not looking good!
Brolly wrong on Roscommon discipline
Joe Brolly was very unfair in his comments about Roscommon on ‘League Sunday’. He said that the Donie Smith and Ultan Harney incidents in recent games means that there was a “thing in Roscommon with regard to ill-discipline”. He didn’t say the same about any of the other games during which there were several incidents that were far worse. Roscommon are battling hard and playing the game in a wholehearted and very committed way since this league started and no more than that. To read anything else into it is totally wrong.
Can underdogs set up final showdown?
The All-Ireland club football semi-finals are on this weekend and I would love to see the two underdogs Mullinalaghta and Gweedore win but it’s unlikely. Corofin and Dr. Crokes are big clubs who have fantastic players and both have won the All-Ireland title in the past three years. The Mullinalaghta story is a great one and if they were to beat Dr. Crokes it would bring the entire county of Longford (and a lot of Cavan too) to Croke Park on March the 17th.
In the hurling matches last weekend Cushendall were very unlucky to lose out to St. Thomas’ while Ballyhale are back in the final against after a mighty tussle with Ballygunner, Who would back against the Henry Shefflin trained side in the final? Not me.