‘We’ve a long way to go …but we’ll learn lessons’

Joint team manager Fergal O’Donnell says the defeat Roscommon received at the hands of a clinical Kerry in Sunday’s National Football League Semi-Final shows just how far Roscommon have to travel. But an upbeat O’Donnell indicated that Roscommon will learn lessons from their recent defeats to Mayo, Dublin and Donegal – and will be all the stronger as a result.

  Speaking to the Roscommon People moments after Sunday’s 3-15 to 0-14 reversal, O’Donnell reflected: “We may have surpassed ourselves getting to the semi-finals. We are under no illusions. We look at the other three teams that are in the semi-finals (Kerry, Dublin and Donegal) and we have a long, long way to go to catch up with them.”

  O’Donnell said that Roscommon had been outclassed on the day but he felt there were key lessons to be learned about shot selection, turnovers, game awareness and general decision-making. He also acknowledged that the “power, strength and speed” of the country’s best teams had been decisive in Roscommon’s recent losses to Mayo, Dublin and Kerry.

  “It was always a danger that we would make the semi-final and come up very short and that’s what happened. Today we were 1-6 to 0-2 down almost before we got started at all. We were looking for a performance today but we were outclassed.

  “Kerry were more experienced and were better players on the day – but we will learn from that.

  “In the last three games the biggest thing we have come up against is power, strength and speed of the bigger teams and we have a long way to go to match them.

  “Coming out of defence in the first half we were playing against the breeze and we kept turning back and I think that we may have got a little stage fright out there today.

  “You would have to be impressed by Kerry. Their midfield pairing of David Moran and Kieran Donaghy was so good. The way they contested the ball and the way they covered the ground was fantastic – and you look at Marc O’Sé the way he drives out with the ball in comparison to what we were doing. But remember that the Kerry lads all have All-Ireland medals and All-Stars. They are so experienced.

  “If we were a little bit smarter with our shot selection we could have knocked the score down a bit more. It was disappointing that we didn’t create any goal-scoring chances today.

  “There has been a lot of media about us getting to the semi-final but the Mayo game showed our shortcomings and we know where we are at. We know that our game awareness needs to be better and the decision-making in these big games needs to be much better. If you turn over the ball, especially around the middle, in these big games, you get punished. I suppose you learn…and that’s what happened to us today and it happened against Mayo as well.

  “A few of our fellows were off their game today but you have to learn from your defeats. With another year at this level we will get used to marking players at the top level. That’s what we need, to be playing top class teams consistently and that would lead players to be less in awe or have a fear factor. We didn’t feel that was the case coming into the game today, the dressing room was good but when you come in at half-time and it’s game over it’s disappointing. I didn’t think that would happen. I thought we would be in it at half-time.”