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Focussed footballers back on track

The most important thing about last Saturday’s win against Cavan was that Roscommon actually got back on track after the disaster against Sligo.

  The attitude of the players was right and you could see from the very start that Roscommon  were up for the game.

  Without Niall Carty, Donal Ward, Mark Healy, Cathal Shine and Senan Kilbride, the players who were chosen certainly stepped up to the mark and their scoring total of 3-17 was excellent.

  Neil Collins, Seanie McDermott and Niall Daly were excellent in defence but David Keenan really shone. It was his best outing in a Roscommon jersey for a long time.

  Elsewhere, Ian Kilbride worked very hard and it was great to see Donie Shine back in the team playing well and fully fit. Enda Smith and Cathal Cregg were also very effective, but the big plus for me was Ultan Harney, who is a class act.

  Harney can play anywhere from number 8 to number 15 and he was a top class target man inside at full-forward on Saturday. His ball-winning ability and football intelligence were among the main reasons why Roscommon won this game. It is also very encouraging to have won so handsomely without so many key players.
  However there are downsides too and it has to be pointed out that Cavan were very poor on the day. They had to play the entire second half with 14 men, yet it took Roscommon a long time to put them away. The standard of football was not high and both sides were guilty of giving the ball away time after time.

  It was a very enjoyable game to be at, but I watched the entire seventy minutes again on Sunday morning and it was not as good in review. Tomas O’Se and Dermot Earley were in the studio and they were not exactly gushing in their praise of the teams or the standard of football.

  Tommy Carr, who was co-commentator with Darragh Maloney, decided to give the man of the match award to Cathal Cregg. While Cathal played well, I don’t know what game Tommy Carr was watching because there were at least five Roscommon players more deserving of the accolade. My choice was Ultan Harney.

  The draw means that Roscommon face another away game, this time against Fermanagh. It’s a dangerous game for Roscommon in Brewster Park but it is a very winnable one.

  Fermanagh are improving – and they have a few excellent forwards – but Roscommon have enough good players to win it and progress to the last 12. One more victory and we will be playing football in August. After the display against Sligo, it would be some recovery.

  Let’s see how Sunday goes first. The Rossies will be marching on the 12th of July!

 

 

EVANS PLEADS FOR PATIENCE!

All-Ireland SFC Qualifiers Round 2

Roscommon 3-17 Cavan 1-16

John Evans has pleaded with fans to be patient with his “wonderful” players after Roscommon footballers recovered from their much-criticised display against Sligo to defeat Cavan in their round 2 qualifier in Kingspan Breffni Park on Saturday.

The Roscommon manager, thrilled with the players and the way they responded to the defeat against Sligo, rounded on the critics of the team.

“The amount of s**te that we have had to listen to in the past two weeks has been totally unfair. These lads have been working so hard and they are a wonderful bunch to work with. For God’s sake would people please ever be patient with them. Please be patient and give them breathing space. They are young and are still learning.

“There were a lot of young players out there. We went out today without our regular full-back, our centre half-back, our number one midfielder, our number one full-forward and Mark Healy too, and you still saw that Roscommon footballers have backbone and we really showed it out there today.” After that disastrous loss to Sligo in the Connacht semi-final, Roscommon got their championship campaign back on track with this well-deserved seven-point win at sunny Kingspan Breffni Park last Saturday evening.

Short several key players, Roscommon put up a big total and there were some outstanding performances on the day. It was all about getting into the next round and now Roscommon will have to travel again as they face Fermanagh in Brewster Park on Saturday next in round three.

There were many positives for John Evans out of this game. The team showed a really positive attitude and that was one thing that was missing against Sligo. Neil Collins, Seanie McDermott, David Keenan, Conor Daly, Enda Smith, Donie Shine, Cathal Cregg and Ultan Harney were all outstanding.

When you consider that Roscommon were without Mark Healy, Cathal Shine, Niall Carty and Senan Kilbride, and that Diarmuid Murtagh only came on as a sub, it is an impressive win for sure.

But before anyone gets carried away, there were flaws in this Roscommon display too. The ball was given away far too often and Roscommon struggled at midfield. Despite having numerical advantage for the entire second half it was only in the last five minutes that Roscommon pulled away.

Cavan were a poor side on the day and Roscommon will have to improve significantly if they are to trouble any of the big guns later in the championship. But with several players to return from injury and an eminently winnable game against Fermanagh on the horizon, Roscommon can regain the momentum which was lost during the poor display against Sligo.

The Roscommon defence played well and Neil Collins looked very assured at full-back against Michael Argue, while David Keenan at centre half-back had one of his best games in many a long day. Conor Daly was very effective on his return to the side and Donie Shine scored some great points. Cathal Cregg worked very hard all through and Enda Smith was on fire and he scored two great goals. Ciaran Murtagh continues to impress up front and Ultan Harney announced his arrival on to the senior stage in style in this game. He was my man of the match.

He worked like a trojan from the time the ball was thrown in. I was thrilled for the players and for the management that they went out and erased what was a very poor display against Sligo. A lot of work needs to be done but if Roscommon can get all their injured players back I see no reason why they can’t make the last 12 and maybe even the quarter-finals.

Injured players unlikely to be fit in time for Fermanagh

Roscommon manager John Evans says he is not expecting the key players who are currently out injured to be back in contention for places this weekend.

  Following their win over Cavan last Saturday, Roscommon face Fermanagh in Round 3 of the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship qualifiers on Sunday. The game, in Brewster Park, Enniskillen, has a 3.30 pm throw-in time.

  Missing several key players last weekend – “the spine of the team” in Evans’ own words – the Roscommon manager is not expecting an improved bill of health. 

  Speaking to the Roscommon People on Tuesday, he said: “We had a lot of injuries last weekend and I am not expecting any of those lads to be back this weekend.

  “Diarmuid Murtagh came on and played well so he is in contention but the team will be much the same as it was last weekend.”

  Roscommon face a rapidly-improving Fermanagh in a game that will be tricky but winnable. This is the first time that the teams have ever met in the championship.

  A lot of sport at the top level comes down to mental attitude and in contrast to what we saw in Sligo, Roscommon players were well tuned in against Cavan – and, make no mistake, if Roscommon are not in a similar frame of mind this Sunday, then it will end in tears.

  Fermanagh are no world-beaters but their graph is certainly on an upward curve. They have been promoted to Division Two in the league and under the very wily Peter McGrath they have become notoriously hard to beat at home. Indeed the last time that they were beaten in Brewster Park was by Roscommon in the league in a high-scoring game over 12 months ago.

  Fermanagh beat Antrim in the championship by eight points before losing 1-20 to 0-13 against Monaghan. Then in the qualifiers they came up against Antrim again and won last Sunday by 1-21 to 0-11.

  Fermanagh have some real quality, not least their full-forward Sean Quigley who scored a very impressive total of 0-14 last Sunday against Antrim. When Roscommon played Fermanagh last he  was lethal from play and frees.

  Marty O’Brien is a very impressive wing half-back who loves to attack and he scored a fine goal last Sunday. Ryan McCluskey will be back after suspension and James McMahon is usually deployed as a sweeper. Barry Mulrone, Ryan Jones and Niall Cassidy are also good attacking players for the home side.

  Roscommon should line out close to what we saw in Cavan last weekend. Darren O’Malley will be behind Davy Murray, the very solid Neil Collins and Seanie McDermott in the full-back line. David Keenan had a stormer last weekend at centre half-back and will continue in that role with Ciaran Cafferky and Niall Daly on the wings.

  At midfield Kevin Higgins and Ian Kilbride were very effective last weekend, but Higgins needs more game-time. Up front Conor Daly, Enda Smith, Donie Shine, Ciaran Murtagh and Cathal Cregg all played well while Ultan Harney was fantastic at full-forward. It was good to see Donie Shine back close to his best last Saturday. Diarmuid Murtagh and Donie Smith are also in contention for starting spots in attack.

  This will be a very tight game but there is a huge prize for the winners and a place in the final 12 teams in the country, which would be a great achievement. While John Evans is right, and people should not get carried away, this is a very winnable match for Roscommon.

  If the players’ attitude is right there is no reason why we cannot go to Enniskillen and win. We have better players then Fermanagh and on that basis I am going for a Roscommon win by a couple of points, with a few scares along the way.

Match odds: Fermanagh 9/4; Roscommon 2/1; Draw 15/2.

Prediction: Roscommon.

 

 

 

Terrific Tighe denies Roscommon

 

TG4 Connacht Ladies IFC

Leitrim 2-12 Roscommon 0-17

 

A late rally from Roscommon in the final 10 minutes just fell short as Leitrim survived to reach the Connacht final against Sligo in this very entertaining game played at splendidly appointed Croghan on Sunday last.

  Two goals from Leitrim in the first half were key, and Roscommon were always playing catch-up – but they can take great heart from the spirit they showed throughout.

  The good-sized crowd were treated to a very enjoyable match with two committed teams providing plenty of entertainment.

  It was Leitrim who began best and by the 6th minute they led by 1-3 to 0-0. Aine Tighe was in commanding form for Leitrim and with Aileen Maguire blasting home a goal in the 4th minute, the visitors added points from Maguire, Tighe and Ailbe Clancy.

  Roscommon got into the game with points from Jenny Downey (2), one a free, but the Leitrim dominance was maintained throughout most of the first half, although Martina Freyne and Jenny Downey were giving the Leitrim defence plenty of problems.

  Points from the outstanding Jenny Downey (2) and Martina Freyne (2), had the lead down to three by the 29th minute. Then Leitrim struck for a second goal when Anna Conlon blasted home after more good work from Aine Tighe. Roscommon hit back with points from Jenny Downey and Jenny Higgins and at half-time the score was Leitrim 2-6 Roscommon 0-8.

  Roscommon hit the ground running early in the second half and three points from Martina Freyne and Jenny Downey (2 frees) saw the home side come to within a point of their neighbours. But in the nature of this game every time Roscommon threatened to assume control Leitrim were able to respond, and they rattled over four points without reply by the 44th minute, three of those coming from Aine Tighe.

  By the 53rd minute Leitrim led by 2-11 to 0-13 and looked set for a comfortable win. But Roscommon staged a desperate late surge. Jenny Downey and Jenny Higgins pointed to narrow the gap to two by the 56th minute. Then Deirdre Ward lifted the siege with a good Leitrim point – but Roscommon were in control now and driving forward. Jenny Downey pointed a free and Laura Fleming scored a fine point from play, and, as injury-time ran to over three minutes, the momentum was with Roscommon. They did have one last chance but sub Laura McLoone’s shot was easily cleared by the Leitrim defence and the visitors survived. Leitrim now play Sligo in the Connacht final while Roscommon must now go down the qualifier route.

Leitrim: Michelle Guckian; Claire Beirne, Sharon Kerrigan, Roisin McHugh; Aine Heslin, Lorraine Brennan, Melissa Hewitt; Sarah McLoughlin (0-1), Anna Conlon (1-0); Deirdre Ward (0-1), Niamh Tighe (0-1), Aileen Maguire (1-1); Ailbhe Glancy (0-1), Aine Tighe (0-7, 4 frees), Carla LeGuen. Subs: Bronagh O’Rourke for Clancy (41), Emma Guckian for Maguire (51).

Roscommon: Rachel Timothy; Feena Beirne, Niamh O’Beirne, Honor Ennis; Aisling McAuliffe, Louise Tully, Sorcha Bruen; Jenny Higgins (0-2), Sinead Kenny; Siobhan Tully, Rachel Ryan, Laura Fleming (0-1); Nicola Tully, Martina Freyne (0-4), Jenny Downey (0-10, 8 frees). Subs: Jenny Conlon for Ryan (51), Laura McLoone for N Tully (51), Caoileann Beirne for Freyne (56).

Referee: Gerry Carmody (Mayo). 

Minors aiming to upset odds

Roscommon’s minor footballers face Sligo for a place in the 2015 Connacht Final on Friday night and for the first time in a number of years Sligo will be the favourites to advance. The game is in Kiltoom at 7.30 pm. 

  Sligo recently won the Connacht Minor League for the first time in many years and they have the luxury of a championship game behind them. Last Saturday they put four goals past Leitrim in a 4-9 to 0-12 victory.

  Roscommon’s preparations have been stop-start. There were some good performances in the Connacht Minor League which were mixed with the mediocre. The team management, under Jimmy Gacquin, were affected by the success of Roscommon CBS and the team were without most of those players for the duration of the Connacht Minor League.

  Roscommon have plenty of good players in their squad and they are going into this game under the radar, which will suit them. 

  Roscommon CBS players Gearoid Keenan, Richard Hughes, Conor Shanager and Shane Fetherston, to name just a few, will be hoping for some game time and when you add in players like Conor Murray, Hubert Darcy, Luke Carty and Daniel Glynn, it is a strong looking Roscommon line-up.

  I saw a recording of the Sligo v Leitrim game, and while Sligo scored four great goals they also conceded 0-12, which will give Roscommon some hope.

  I was really impressed with the Sligo full-forward line, which is led by Patrick O’Connor, who is a big, strong and skilful full-forward, and the Roscommon defence will have to watch him closely. Darragh Cummins was impressive for Summerhill College this year and he will probably line out at midfield. Kyle Cawley and Nathan Rooney are also players to watch out for on the Sligo side.

  The Sligo team are managed by former Leitrim senior player Aidan Rooney, and they will be hot favourites to advance.

  Roscommon’s record in the Connacht Minor Championship over the past ten years has been phenomenal. Expectations this year have been lower, although looking at the players on the Roscommon team I would be very hopeful that there can be a shock on Friday night.

  The fact that Sligo have a championship match played already will stand to them. This is a one-off, do-or-die game, with the losers out of the championship.

  If Roscommon can get stuck in from the start and restrict ball getting into that dangerous looking Sligo full-forward line, they can win this game against the odds.

Prediction: Roscommon.

Doubts persist over Kilbride and Murtagh

 

Roscommon play Cavan in a major competitive game for the sixth time in 30 months when the sides lock horns once again this Saturday (5 pm in Kingspan Breffni Park) in a game that offers John Evans’ men a chance for redemption after their very poor display against Sligo a few weeks ago.

  Redemption will also be on the minds of Cavan. The Breffni men were beaten by a single point by Monaghan a few weeks ago and they will be determined to build on that display this Saturday.

  Cavan are eager to beat Roscommon this time around as the Rossies seem to have the Indian sign over them in recent years. With home advantage they will fancy their chances and a very close and hard-fought battle looks on the cards.

  Roscommon were so bad against Sligo it was a scarcely believable after such a great year in the league and the subsequent promotion.

  It is likely that Diarmuid Murtagh and Senan Kilbride will be sidelined for this game and it looks like there will be a number of changes on the team. Ultan Harney looks likely to start in the attack as will Conor Daly. Kevin Higgins and Donie Shine are under consideration at midfield to partner Cathal Shine.

  Further back, it looks like Niall Daly could well feature at centre half-back with Davy Murray and David Keenan candidates for the half-back line.

  Cavan are an improved team this year and with Liam McHale in the backroom set-up, their reputation for ultra-defensive football has been shed in recent months with a slightly more attacking philosophy now in evidence. 

  Rory Dunne, the outstanding Cavan full-back, will be out after sustaining a serious leg injury in their win against London. Gearoid McKiernan has blossomed into a really top class player and his clash with Cathal Shine at midfield will be interesting.

  Other Cavan players who are expected to be prominent will be Martin Dunne and Niall McDermott up front with Cian Mackey, Dara McVeety and Fergal Flanagan. Big Michael Argue from Baileboro poses a considerable threat at full-forward but he is doubtful for Saturday due to injury.

  This could be a very tight battle and once again the attitude of the players is key. If Roscommon go into his game determined to put the Sligo debacle behind them, they have the players to win this game. However it will be a big task. Cavan are convinced that they should have beaten Monaghan, and at home they will be determined to turn over Roscommon for the first time in a couple of years.

  I hope that Roscommon supporters get behind the team. A win would do wonders for confidence and set the side up for the rest of the qualifiers. Defeat will bring more recriminations and it will signal a very poor championship summer once again. I think Roscommon will bounce back and win here by a couple of points.

 

Match odds: Cavan 1/1; Roscommon 1/1.  Draw 15/2.

Prediction: Roscommon.

A chance for redemption

 

This Saturday evening’s game against Cavan is a huge occasion for the Roscommon senior football team. They know that the trap door is gone and it is a chance of redemption after the non-performance against Sligo.

  The usual stories that follow a defeat like that have all been doing the rounds such as an (alleged) row on the bus, etc. etc! Football has changed a lot since I was playing but rumours after a shock defeat were around when I was there as well.

  All these stories really mean nothing and by all accounts nothing untoward happened before the Sligo match.

  However what we do know is that it was a very poor performance from Roscommon on the day. Sligo wanted it a bit more and that fact has to hurt the team and management.

  When the draw for the Connacht championship this year, there was a massive chance for the winners (of the game in Markievicz Park) to get to a Connacht final and for Roscommon not to have been tuned properly in was massively disappointing.
  I see where John Evans said that the Roscommon players had bought into the hype before the match, but the question I would ask is who created the hype?  

  I know that it is important to build up confidence in the players, but to talk of winning All-Irelands after just getting promoted to Division One of the league is premature. It certainly added to the hype and in reality it set Roscommon up for a big fall.

  I am sure that all that chat was music to the Sligo management’s ears and I also believe that Mayo were chomping at the bit in anticipation of meeting Roscommon in the Connacht Final.

  The standard of the teams in Division Two of the league has now to be cast into question as every team with the exception of Westmeath (who were relegated) have been beaten in this year’s championship.
  There is very little between Cavan and Roscommon and both counties have a very similar record in that they have been developing good underage teams in recent years. Both teams have definitely made progress but are struggling to get that success at senior championship level. Both teams have strong panels and in time, and with good management and patience, both sides should rise up the pecking order.

  To get into the top eight is difficult, but to get to get to the top four a team must be able to compete in Division One for a few years. Monaghan are a team that have made most progress in that regard in recent years.
  Last year Roscommon won against Cavan easily but on that occasion we were the team with the momentum, after a good showing against Mayo. This year Cavan have that momentum after a good performance against Monaghan and a demolition of London.

  Roscommon are not as bad as they looked against Sligo and are well capable of beating Cavan. But this time our players have to be tuned in and we have to get our team selection right. We did not do either against Sligo.

  I don’t foresee wholesale changes as that would not make any sense. We might have some injuries, but so have Cavan, so that issue is not relevant.

  My main worry going into this match has to do with Roscommon’s confidence. All sports teams have to have confidence when they go out and believe that they can win. The lads have been shook to the core after the Sligo match and it will take a huge effort to rise up again.

  There is no doubt that we have a strong panel and if our attitude is right I am convinced  that we can win on Saturday evening but it will not be easy.

  The team has taken a lot of flak in the media and on radio and TV so I am expecting a huge response and a morale-boosting win.

  On Friday evening Roscommon’s minors take on Sligo in the Connacht semi-final at Kiltoom.

  I have not seen this Roscommon team play this year but with the Roscommon CBS players back in the team I am expecting a big performance.

  Sligo go into the game as favourites but at home Roscommon can cause a surprise.

Connacht final for Hyde

In what is a huge boost for Roscommon town businesses, it was confirmed yesterday (Wednesday) that the 2015 Connacht Football Final will be played in Dr. Hyde Park.

  The news came four days after Roscommon’s dismal defeat to Sligo in the Connacht semi-final.

  County Board Secretary Brian Carroll, who said the Connacht Council confirmed the choice of venue on Wednesday evening, told the Roscommon People: “The hardest part of talking about this is the reality that Roscommon won’t be in the final. However we’re delighted to have been chosen and it’s obviously great news for the town. It will be the biggest game in Hyde Park this year.”

  Hyde Park will host the Connacht senior and minor football finals on Sunday, July 19 next. Roscommon’s conquerors Sligo will face five-in-a-row chasing Mayo in the senior decider (4 pm). The minor final will start at 2 pm. Capacity is capped at 20,000.

  Roscommon minors will now play either Sligo or Leitrim (who meet this weekend) in the Connacht Minor Football semi-final at Hyde Park on Friday, July 3 at 7.30 pm.

  Asked about the morale in the Roscommon camp in the wake of Saturday’s loss to Sligo, Brian Carroll said: “The morale is good…the lads were back training on Sunday morning. The mood is upbeat ahead of our qualifier game against Cavan.” 

Sligo’s ruthless wake-up call

Connacht SFC semi-final: Sligo 1-14 Roscommon 0-13

 

Roscommon’s bid to win this season’s Connacht title was emphatically derailed last Saturday evening in Markievicz Park, Sligo as the home side caused one of the shocks of the 2015 championship, defeating the visitors by a four-point margin.

  Arising from eye-catching back-to-back league promotions, John Evans’ (now) Division One charges were viewed as firm favourites to book their place in the provincial final, but a determined and clinical Sligo side tore that script to shreds with their most impressive display in recent times.

  Talk of Roscommon being potential All-Ireland quarter-finalists – with even the outside prospect of a place in the last four touted in some quarters – looks somewhat fanciful just now, and the Division 2 league champions have a lot of soul-searching to do in the run-up to their game against Cavan in the qualifiers.

  The result may have caused mini-shock waves throughout the country, but this was an ambush that was expertly orchestrated by a tactical masterclass from Niall Carew’s management team which rightly anticipated they could catch Roscommon cold.

  Quite simply, Roscommon couldn’t find the answers to the questions which Sligo posed, and their below-par performance once again proved that the favourite’s tag sits uncomfortably with them. There is no doubt that Roscommon took their eye off the ball with a potential tilt at the Connacht title against Mayo in the back of their minds. The drive, passion and desire needed to get over this semi-final hurdle was nowhere to be seen. As poor as Roscommon were, Sligo deserve great credit for this win.

  The foundations for their success were laid by their rampant full-forward line trio of Adrian Marren, David Kelly and Pat Hughes, who accounted for 1-10 of their overall 1-14 tally. The trio tormented and exposed a Roscommon full-back line which had hitherto been hailed as the most established and reliable line in the team.

  The tactic of deploying Marren in a much deeper role in the opening half created space for colleagues Hughes and Kelly, who proved to be a major thorn in the Roscommon defence’s side throughout. The inside duo were the primary ball-winners, procuring many scores, while Marren provided a touch of class with his excellent marksmanhip which yielded a personal tally of 1-7.

  Their decision to implement a short kick-out system also threw Roscommon as Sligo built from the back with a patient approach, before unleashing direct ball into their industrious and explosive full-forward line. One would have to question the psychological preparation of the Roscommon team following this disappointing defeat.

  Sligo were the hungrier side throughout, and Roscommon failed to match their superior levels of intensity and passion. From as early as the opening minute when Cian Breheny capped a brilliant sweeping move to register their first score, one could sense that Sligo’s tails were up, and they were primed for the heat of the battle.

  And yet a lethargic Roscommon side could have still rescued the game during the third quarter when three goal chances went abegging. If any of those efforts from Donie and Enda Smith or Cian Connolly had found the target, the entire complexion of the game would have changed.

  Some may say that Sligo rode their luck at times during a frantic second half, but they made their own luck on this occasion, and were full value for their win. Now facing a trip to Cavan on Saturday week in the qualifiers, John Evans’ team’s season is in danger of imploding entirely. Pressure is now mounting on the Kerry native, with former Roscommon player and current RTE analyst Shane Curran calling for the manager’s head in the wake of this championship defeat. Roscommon now have to go back to the drawing board.

  A defeat on Saturday week would threaten to undo all the positive progress which Roscommon have made in recent times, and in all probability bring an end to John Evans’ time in charge. What a crunch game this will be for the Rossies.

Sligo’s ruthless wake-up call

Connacht SFC semi-final: Sligo 1-14 Roscommon 0-13

 

Roscommon’s bid to win this season’s Connacht title was emphatically derailed last Saturday evening in Markievicz Park, Sligo as the home side caused one of the shocks of the 2015 championship, defeating the visitors by a four-point margin.

  Arising from eye-catching back-to-back league promotions, John Evans’ (now) Division One charges were viewed as firm favourites to book their place in the provincial final, but a determined and clinical Sligo side tore that script to shreds with their most impressive display in recent times.

  Talk of Roscommon being potential All-Ireland quarter-finalists – with even the outside prospect of a place in the last four touted in some quarters – looks somewhat fanciful just now, and the Division 2 league champions have a lot of soul-searching to do in the run-up to their game against Cavan in the qualifiers.

  The result may have caused mini-shock waves throughout the country, but this was an ambush that was expertly orchestrated by a tactical masterclass from Niall Carew’s management team which rightly anticipated they could catch Roscommon cold.

  Quite simply, Roscommon couldn’t find the answers to the questions which Sligo posed, and their below-par performance once again proved that the favourite’s tag sits uncomfortably with them. There is no doubt that Roscommon took their eye off the ball with a potential tilt at the Connacht title against Mayo in the back of their minds. The drive, passion and desire needed to get over this semi-final hurdle was nowhere to be seen. As poor as Roscommon were, Sligo deserve great credit for this win.

  The foundations for their success were laid by their rampant full-forward line trio of Adrian Marren, David Kelly and Pat Hughes, who accounted for 1-10 of their overall 1-14 tally. The trio tormented and exposed a Roscommon full-back line which had hitherto been hailed as the most established and reliable line in the team.

  The tactic of deploying Marren in a much deeper role in the opening half created space for colleagues Hughes and Kelly, who proved to be a major thorn in the Roscommon defence’s side throughout. The inside duo were the primary ball-winners, procuring many scores, while Marren provided a touch of class with his excellent marksmanhip which yielded a personal tally of 1-7.

  Their decision to implement a short kick-out system also threw Roscommon as Sligo built from the back with a patient approach, before unleashing direct ball into their industrious and explosive full-forward line. One would have to question the psychological preparation of the Roscommon team following this disappointing defeat.

  Sligo were the hungrier side throughout, and Roscommon failed to match their superior levels of intensity and passion. From as early as the opening minute when Cian Breheny capped a brilliant sweeping move to register their first score, one could sense that Sligo’s tails were up, and they were primed for the heat of the battle.

  And yet a lethargic Roscommon side could have still rescued the game during the third quarter when three goal chances went abegging. If any of those efforts from Donie and Enda Smith or Cian Connolly had found the target, the entire complexion of the game would have changed.

  Some may say that Sligo rode their luck at times during a frantic second half, but they made their own luck on this occasion, and were full value for their win. Now facing a trip to Cavan on Saturday week in the qualifiers, John Evans’ team’s season is in danger of imploding entirely. Pressure is now mounting on the Kerry native, with former Roscommon player and current RTE analyst Shane Curran calling for the manager’s head in the wake of this championship defeat. Roscommon now have to go back to the drawing board.

  A defeat on Saturday week would threaten to undo all the positive progress which Roscommon have made in recent times, and in all probability bring an end to John Evans’ time in charge. What a crunch game this will be for the Rossies.

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