With no sporting activity and plenty of time for consideration, this week Seamus Duke has chosen what he believes is the best Roscommon senior football team he has seen during his career in sports journalism.
This means that players who were on the great team of the 1940s or the team that got to the All-Ireland final in the early 1960s have been omitted. However, it does include the four-in-a-row Connacht team from the late 1970s onwards…
- Gay Sheeran – Gay had a long and distinguished career between the posts and his passion and dedication to the cause was legendary. He beats Paul Staunton to the number one position with Darren O’Malley also a consideration.
- Harry Keegan – The easiest choice of the whole lot. He got three All Stars playing for a county that didn’t win an All-Ireland which was some achievement. The great Castlerea man was the best corner-back I have seen on any team.
- Pat Lindsay – The St. Faithleach’s man was a brilliant full-back and a great leader. He trained harder than anyone else and was an inspirational captain when Roscommon won the league in 1979. As tough as they come, he beats Pat Doorey to the position.
- Enon Gavin – This was a tough choice between the Clann na nGael man and Gerry Connellan, both of whom were All Stars. Gavin burst on to the scene as a 19-year-old in 1991 and remained part of the Roscommon team for many years after that.
- Seanie McDermott – I know that Seanie played most of his football in the full-back line but he played many times out in the half-back line too. He was a magnificent servant to Roscommon and richly deserves his place on the team. Niall Daly’s consistent displays meant he was also in contention.
- Francie Grehan – The St. Aidan’s man was so fiercely determined and passionate that he deserves his place. His performances in the early noughties were sensational. Tom Donnellan from the team of the late 1970s and early 80s was also an outstanding performer.
- Danny Murray – One of the classiest players that I have ever seen. He won two All Stars and should have won more. He was always in great shape and loved to bomb forward with the ball.
- John Newton – For me this was a straight choice between the big Garda and Elphin’s Seamus Killoran. A lot of Roscommon fans would say that Killoran did the hard work while Newton did the fancy stuff but that would be unfair to the Shannon Gaels man who was a superb player.
- Dermot Earley – Another easy choice. A legend on and off the field. An inspiration for so many Roscommon footballers, football fans and for everyone who knew him. What a Roscommon man he was.
- Mickey Freyne – The Castlerea man won his All Star in the full-forward position but he played in almost every attacking position for club and county. He was a very classy player and a mighty man to get a vital goal. He edges out the brilliant John ‘Jigger’ O’Connor.
- Fergal O’Donnell – Another hugely influential player and one who always led by example. For club and county Fergal was an outstanding leader and his qualities extended to masterminding that unforgettable All-Ireland minor triumph is 2006. One of the great Roscommon GAA figures of the modern era.
- Nigel Dineen – There are a number of live contenders for this position but during a long career Nigel got a lot of vital scores for Roscommon and edges out the likes of Eamon ‘Junior’ McManus, Tommy Grehan and Vinny Glennon.
- Frankie Dolan – His inter-county career was not as long as it might have been but he turned in some sensational displays in the Primrose and Blue jersey and was a prolific scorer. His contribution to St. Brigid’s’ All-Ireland club win will go down in folklore. Cathal Cregg would also be in contention here.
- Paul Earley – There were a number of contenders here, including Ciaráin Murtagh, but Earley was a magnificent player when he was on his game. He was a great target man and knew how to score.
- Tony McManus – The greatest Roscommon forward that I have seen in my time. His career spanned two different successful Roscommon teams and he was a fierce competitor who hated to lose. Even more impressive was that he stuck with the Roscommon team through lean times from 1981 to 1990. A Roscommon footballing legend for sure.
Subs: Paul Staunton, John ‘Jigger’ O’Connor, Niall Daly, Seamus Hayden, Tommy Grehan, Gerry Connellan, Pat Doorey, Eamon McManus Snr., Seamus Killoran, Ciaráin Murtagh, Enda Smith.
So that’s my choice…it’s bound to lead to a lot of discussion during the coming week, so feel free to submit your best Roscommon senior football team going back to 1976. Send in your teams (and arguments for and against) to firstname.lastname@example.org.