McStay surveys wreckage but looks to future
What a difference a week makes. Just eight days earlier, Kevin McStay bounced into the press area under the Hogan Stand after seeing his side go toe to toe with Mayo and come out with a share of the spoils. The mood was one of optimism as he looked to the replay. This time around, his native county went out and showed the football world that any suggestion that they were slipping back to the pack was pie in the sky stuff as they hammered a hapless Roscommon with a ruthless display of power football.
There wasn’t a lot that could be said as he surveyed the wreckage of a 22-point defeat.
“Mayo got their act together and we fell off the edge of a cliff today. The pace and power that we knew Mayo had but we thought was waning a bit was back and they brought the full force of it to the table from the throw-in. Our young team got steamrolled by a very experienced team who knew what they were about. My sense of it is that these things happen. I wish they didn’t happen because it is a tough place to be right now. Mayo were just miles ahead of us today.
“Momentum is a big thing and their first goal gave them the confidence to go for the jugular and after that, every second attack they were looking to score goals. We have no complaints whatsoever and we wish them well in the semi-final and if they continue to play like that, they will test their next opponents.
“Colm Boyle and Keith Higgins made a huge impact from sweeping positions and they opened us up and we could not track them. They showed huge energy there today and that is the most energetic that we have seen from Mayo in a long time.
“Our lads were not making the same runs as last week for the kick-outs, (but) there is no blame game here in our dressing room this evening. It is a steep learning curve for our lads but overall this has been a decent year for us. We got a championship out of it and we had three trips to Croke Park and we are learning all the time,” he said.
There was a huge managerial call to leave out the two goalscorers from the drawn game, Fintan Cregg and team captain Ciaráin Murtagh, and replace them with the inexperienced Caoileann Fitzmaurice and Cathal Compton. McStay explained that he needed to try to beef up his attack.
“Firstly, at the end of the game last week we had five starting forwards sitting on the bench so when we looked at it we found it hard to see where we were going to get the scores. So we decided we would get as much out of the first half as possible and then we would bring on Fintan and Ciaráin in the second half.
“We wanted to make a few changes and throw a few different things at Mayo with Cathal Compton at full-forward. Caoileann Fitzmaurice was going well at training and we threw him in at the deep end and he did great. I don’t think it made any difference what team we started with the way Mayo went at us. They just jumped at us from the word go. They pummelled us all through.
“Mayo went back to their strong running game today and they have big strong athletic men and when they get their touch right and their confidence up, they are hard to beat. They had eight or nine goal chances in that game today.
“It’s hard to believe (what happened), we were coming in on the bus and we were saying we will make this hugely competitive and we will get it down to the wire and then you see the scoreboard at the end of the game. It is hard to believe that we had such a positive mindset and then to see what happened,” he said.
So what’s next? How can Roscommon recover from this defeat and what are the plans for 2018?
“When we get back to the hotel we will have something to eat and we will say goodbye for a few months and the lads can get back to the club stuff. I am going to emphasise the positives and the strides forward that we have made as a group. This (the defeat) leaves a little bit of a smell for sure. It’s not a nice way to finish the season but we are in good company. Most of the so-called second tier teams have said goodbye to the championship with fairly big margins of defeat behind them.
“We won the Connacht Championship and we are well placed next year in Division Two to develop the team further away from the pressure of Division One. We will be taking a few months off now and we will go again then and I would be very hopeful that we would further improve. I take plenty of positives and you have to remember where we were earlier in the year.
“It is very important that we get promoted from Division Two next year but it won’t be easy; there are plenty of good teams in that division. Days like today will count. It is a tough experience but we are determined to develop the team further,” he concluded.