Allianz National Football League Division Two: Down 0-12 Roscommon 0-7
I’m very conscious of the fact that in Roscommon when we win a game we tend to get totally carried away and when we lose we get totally down in the dumps, but this was one of the poorest displays that we have seen from the Roscommon senior football team in many a long day.
Yes, we were heavily beaten a few times last year in Division One, but you have to take into account the level of the opposition we were playing in those games. This time we were playing a game and determined, but very limited and very beatable Down side.
Even when the margin was cut to two points mid-way through the second half, you never got the feeling that Roscommon were going to go on and win the game. We had used up our quota of luck against Meath and Tipperary.
A return of just two points from play in the entire game tells its own story. Put simply, Roscommon never got going at all. The wrong option was taken on so many occasions, the ball was given away, goal chances were missed, and Down were handed easy scoring chances time after time.
The sending off of Ian Kilbride after only 14 minutes was also a huge blow. I didn’t see the second yellow card offence but it left Down with the luxury of a spare man (Niall McParland), who could sweep up any loose ball that was available in the middle third of the field and he did that with some regularity.
Kevin McStay hinted that the red card may have been a little harsh.
“I didn’t see the incident to be honest but Ian himself said that the ref sent him off for rough play on the say of the umpire who is 70 or 80 metres away”.
Darren O’Hagan was superb all through and although he had number four on his back he operated all over the field and was a link man between the Down defence and attack and Roscommon simply could not cope with him.
Barry O’Hagan and Donal O’Hare were also impressive in the Down attack and Ryan Johnson and Colm Flanagan also played well. But it was not the greatness of the Down side that was the major factor in this game; it was the poor performance from Roscommon. John McManus tried very hard all though, and Diarmuid Murtagh had a good first half with little reward but after that there was very little positive to say. Donie Smith was effective again when he came on but he wasn’t able to get the scores that Roscommon needed late in the game and he was not as effective as he has been in recent games.
When the game was there to be won at the start of the second half Roscommon were found wanting, and they need far more drive, far more clinical intent, far more cuteness and far more ferocity in their play.
Of course it’s not the end of the world, but the worrying signs that we saw in Roscommon’s play against Meath and Tipperary came back to haunt Roscommon again last Sunday against Down. The next Division Two game is away in Drogheda on Sunday week and now that becomes a ‘must win’ game.
As Kevin McStay said, maybe Division Two is the level that Roscommon are at right now. One thing is certain; a massive improvement is needed now if Roscommon are to have any hope of being in the promotion shake-up in this division. They will probably have to win all four of their remaining games to have a chance. On the evidence of what we saw last Sunday that is a remote possibility.
Our problems at midfield remain and it is difficult to know what can be done to remedy them at this stage. We need to see far more drive and determination from the players. I know they are working and training hard but it is not being shown on the field on match day. A good win against Louth is badly needed. This is a day and a performance that will have to be consigned to the dustbin. It was very poor but we have to move on. Hopefully lessons will be learned.