This time last year Roscommon had beaten Cavan in the league ahead of the Connacht Championship, albeit in much less hopeful circumstances. A year is a long time in football, however, and while the Rossies were almost completely written off in 2017 following a Division One campaign which was itself a write-off, this year has a much brighter outlook already.
There’s an assurance about this Roscommon team in possession and last Sunday’s score of 4-16 was in keeping with the attacking threat they have carried so far this year. Throw in the development of Ciarán Lennon and the return of Cathal Cregg and it’s not just rapid forward play that has caused opposing backlines huge problems since the turn of the year.
The panel as a whole is now much stronger with the return of experienced players as well as the continued development of those who won Connacht medals last year. Nowadays when teams are named on Thursday nights, supporters can take great comfort in not only 1 to 15 but also those held in reserve. Suddenly a whole new dimension of possibilities jumps out from the pages of match day programmes.
There has been an emergence of leaders right through the panel too. Some players don’t need an armband or title to be captains in their own right. At various points this season players have popped up with crucial contributions at both ends of the field. That being said, Conor Devaney has proven to be an excellent choice as Kevin McStay’s Lieutenant on the pitch. The Man of the Match last Sunday seemed quite at home addressing Croke Park from the Hogan Stand too!
While the spring has seemed brighter, football wise at least, there was a dark warning issued from just across the border last Sunday. If Roscommon remain vulnerable to direct attacking play, Galway certainly seem to have the personnel and game plan to wreck any hopes of retaining the Connacht crown won spectacularly in Salthill. Although the improving Tribesmen must first face a Mayo side which seems to bloom later in summer these days.
For now though the Primrose and Blue can enjoy yet another final triumph while Kevin McStay’s post-match comments would suggest we ain’t seen nothing yet!