‘Turnovers cost us’ – McStay

The high number of turnovers conceded – rather than the late error that led to a Monaghan goal –was responsible for Roscommon’s defeat in Sunday’s first game in Division One of this season’s National Football League.

  That was the assessment of joint Roscommon manager Kevin McStay, who expressed frustration at the high number of errors his side made in general play.

  Roscommon led Monaghan by a point going into the final minute of normal time, but the concession of 1-2 in the closing moments led to an opening-day defeat for a very spirited home side. Before a capacity crowd of 3,000 people in Kiltoom, visitors Monaghan triumphed by 2-10 to 1-9.

  It was a very respectable, indeed encouraging performance by Roscommon on their return to the higher echelons of league football, but ultimately they have no points to show for their efforts.

  McStay said: “It’s disappointing for sure. We gave it everything and we got very close…we tried to hold out for as long as we could, but it was not to be. But it was not just the error at the end that led to the goal that was to blame, it was lots of other mistakes too. I am told we turned the ball over 32 times today – and that’s an awful lot.”

  Roscommon built up a six-point half-time lead (1-5 to 0-2) in very bad weather conditions – and actually went seven clear early in the second half.  

  “The conditions were bad,” McStay reflected, “but we still felt that we were in with a great shout at half-time. But look, the big errors are punished at this level and that’s the big lesson that we learned today. If you turn over the ball in Division One there are classy players around that will hurt you.

  “Ciaran Murtagh was a big loss and he was our top scorer and we have to cut out stuff like that (the black card).”

  Monaghan captain Ciaran McManus, who scored that vital late goal, told People Sport: “Goal-scoring chances were few and far between today, in difficult conditions. We missed a lot today, even in the first half when we were playing against the wind.

  “It was great to get that goal in the end and we needed it badly. We were behind by six and then Roscommon got the first score of the second half so we had to work very hard for our win here today. But we never panicked and we have lots to work on.

  “It is great to start the new league campaign with a win because we didn’t play well in the McKenna Cup but we can kick on now.”

  Fergal O’Donnell and Kevin McStay and the Roscommon supporters will be delighted with the effort and application of the players on Sunday and they are clearly in very good shape in terms of fitness. But in this league you have to take your chances and errors are punished ruthlessly and that’s what happened on Sunday. The mountain gets even higher now as Killarney is the next stop on Sunday next. Nobody said it would be easy.

  Last word to an upbeat Kevin McStay: “We now face into Killarney next week (to play Kerry) but we showed today that we can compete and we gave Monaghan plenty of it today – and remember that they are the Ulster champions. But we have loads of energy in our squad and we can go to Killarney next weekend and think we can get something out of that match.”