Roscommon manager Anthony Cunningham says his team will learn the harsh lessons of last Saturday – and do everything required to get to the next level.
Despite the crushing defeat, the Roscommon boss was philosophical – and pledged his own future to the team, making it clear that he believes Roscommon can and will continue to progress.
Cunningham lamented missed goal opportunities in the first half but was proud of how his team rallied in the second period, at which point they had a man less than Dublin. The Roscommon manager recognised the tremendous qualities of the Dublin team and had no issue with the outcome.
On first-half goal chances that fell to Shane Killoran and Diarmuid Murtagh, Cunningham said: “You have to take your chances and we had two great goal chances in the first half. If you don’t take them against a team like Dublin you will be in trouble and that’s the way it turned out”.
As to the entire sobering experience, he reflected: “It’s all about learning and developing the team and today was another learning experience for us.
“Dublin are at a level of physicality that we would aspire to and it takes a long time to get to that level. We are hoping to get there in time, but it’s a slow-burner”.
Cunningham acknowledged that Roscommon’s chances of an unlikely victory fell away after a close opening ten minutes.
“I was disappointed with the first half, but I thought we made it competitive in the second half in parts with 14 players. But you know, it was a harsh lesson there in the first half. There is huge variety in Dublin’s game. Huge pace, huge physicality. For us, it’s all in a day’s learning”.
The loss of a key player, red-carded just before half-time, was of course a subject of the post-match media interviews.
Cunningham: “It’s something we’ve got to learn as well (the Conor Daly sending-off). If you are on a yellow, you can’t be clumsy on the second tackle. I suppose Conor probably left him (the referee) with no other option, he had to produce the black”.
Given that they had only fourteen men and also conceded a goal just after half-time, Roscommon rallied well, at one stage closing the gap from a massive 17 points back down to 12.
The manager reflected: “I think they showed character and came out there and chipped away with some good passages of play in the second half. But overall, we wouldn’t have played as well as we can play in the first half, that’s disappointing for the players…
“But look, they could have stopped playing there and gone through the motions for the second half, but I think they showed character”.
Cunningham is ready to continue his project with the Connacht champions.
“I’m looking forward to working with this set of players into the future. We got a great tune out of them this year and they are massively interested in getting to the next level. There is great character in this team and that’s something we can build on”.
The process of bouncing back will begin on Sunday week when Roscommon will aim to win a Super 8s’ match for the first time, and finish the season on a positive note.
Anthony Cunningham: “We will enjoy going to Cork. It’s a match between two developing teams and it’s a game we will want to win”.