Kevin McStay’s calm demeanour is always so impressive. The Roscommon manager always comes across as being in control and totally on top of his brief.
With one major challenge out of the way (the Connacht final), he is shaping up for another this Sunday against his native Mayo, a county that he played for over many years, winning an All Star award in the process. However, his determination to lead Roscommon to another huge championship win this weekend is unquestioned and he was buzzing at the prospect of a quarter-final clash with Mayo on Sunday in Croke Park when he, selector Ger Dowd and some of the players met with the media in the Abbey Hotel.
“It’s good to know who we are playing now. We were scouting three teams before last night (Saturday), which was not easy, and I suppose if I am honest, I thought it might be Mayo. It was written in the stars I think!
“Mayo’s achievements over the past seven years are phenomenal. You have to take your hat off to them, they are so resilient – and that is a trait that I admire in all teams – but Mayo have shown that they are the old dogs for the long road. It is a massive challenge for us. The fact that Mayo came through the qualifiers does not lessen that challenge in any way.
“There is a real danger that we could get caught up in who we are playing. We have this week to prepare. As far as I am concerned, this week is about Roscommon. I am totally concentrating on Roscommon and the improvements that we can make from the Connacht final,” he said.
Kevin says that the energy and confidence that the team brought to the Connacht final performance will be required again – and even more so this Sunday.
“The currency of championship wins is workrate, energy and enthusiasm. The skill levels will look after themselves at this level of the game. We might be a little deficient in the power and size department and that will be a challenge. We have to figure a way around that and I have no doubt that we will be addressing that in terms of game management. It is not an easy challenge for us but we will be giving it everything.
“We are where we are in terms of this Mayo match and we certainly won’t be backing off. One thing I can assure you: we intend to enjoy ourselves and give it a hell of a cut!”
Despite the fact that Kevin has been living in Roscommon for almost 25 years, it is against his native county that he (and Liam McHale) will be pitting their wits on Sunday. Surely that adds to a special day?
“It will be a special day if Roscommon win! Thankfully Liam (McHale) has experience of coaching Mayo when they were in All-Ireland semi-finals and finals in Croke Park. That’s experience that Ger (Dowd) and I do not have and that is a great for the group. He knows what to look out for and the pressures involved.
“It is an amazing honour for me and Liam personally and the management team and this young Roscommon team that we are facing one of the best teams to have played football over the past twenty years and we get a chance to play against them in Croke Park. The fact that there are three Connacht teams there on Sunday in Croke Park is just terrific. I have to say that I am really looking forward to it,” he concluded.