Making my way up the motorway towards Dublin last Sunday it was disappointing to see such little Primrose and Blue on cars heading in the same direction. The meaningless fixture against the All-Ireland champions on a bank holiday Sunday failed to entice the paying Roscommon public, which was quite understandable. And so the Roscommon players, who had already suffered two defeats in the inaugural Super 8s, took to the hallowed turf at Croke Park in front of a sea of blue.
By half-time the few Roscommon fans who had made the trip feared the worst as Dublin opened up a 2-12 to 0-7 lead. The game effectively over as a contest, both Dubs and Rossies lingered in the sun or at the bar during the interval.
The second half saw some improvement from a Roscommon point of view as they hit a respectable 2-9 to another Dublin 2-12, injecting some respectability into the final score. Roscommon showed plenty of heart in that second period and it didn’t go unnoticed by the Dublin supporters still seated in the Hogan Stand at the full-time whistle.
There was a sense of relief from both sides as the new-look quarter-final phase reached its conclusion. For Roscommon, it signalled the end of a summer of suffering, while Jim Gavin and his Dublin team arrive at the semi-finals stage unscathed and reinforced by the return of modern day ‘King of the Hill’, Bernard Brogan.
Wounds will be licked throughout the winter in Roscommon as Kevin McStay and his backroom team sift through the rubble of the last few weeks. While the gap - certainly in terms of physicality - appears wide, the recent strides taken by Monaghan and Roscommon’s Connacht rivals, Galway, prove that it is not insurmountable. The hope will be that Roscommon supporters, just like their near neighbours in the recent past, can become regulars in the eastbound lanes of the M6 at the business end of the championship over the coming years.