Ladies given reality check in Sligo 

Lidl Ladies National Football League Division Three (Round 3)

Sligo 0-13 Roscommon 0-11

After two good league wins, Roscommon were brought back down to earth with a thud in the sunshine at Markievicz Park last Sunday when they were deservedly beaten by the home side in what was an ultra-competitive encounter.

While this was a disappointing display, it’s not the end of world for Diane O’Hora’s team as they had already qualified for the league semi-finals, but there were enough shortcomings evident in this performance to cause for concern.

Played in perfect conditions, Roscommon were always in the game but they never looked like winning it, and the ball was given away cheaply on numerous occasions by the visitors.

In addition, when Roscommon went ahead by a point midway through the second half, they couldn’t kick on and it was Sligo who finished the stronger team.

Roscommon did well in defence where Helena Cummins, Róisín Wynne, Saoirse Wynne, and Sarah McVeigh were prominent. But they were second best in midfield where Sligo’s Sarah Reynolds dominated.

However, it was in attack where Roscommon struggled most with the notable exception of Aisling Hanly who was far and away Roscommon’s best performer on the day. But too often she was left to plough a lone furrow as some of her more experienced colleagues never got into the game.

Hanly was a constant danger for Roscommon but at the other end of the field Kate Walsh, Denise McGrath and Emma Keaveney were causing lots of problems for the Roscommon defence. Sligo led by 0-8 to 0-6 at half-time which was not a bad position for Roscommon given the balance of play.

Roscommon’s best spell came in the third quarter after the management made a number of changes in an effort to ignite a response. Four great points without reply from Hanly (2) and Rebecca Finan (2) saw Roscommon lead (0-11 to 0-10) by the 47th minute and the momentum seemed to be with the visitors.

But it was the home side who took the initiative in the closing stages, and Kate Walsh kicked three points (2 frees) in the final ten minutes to give her side a morale-boosting win.

  Roscommon manager Diana O’Hora pulled no punches in her interview after the game with her assessment of the performance.

“We gave the ball away a lot and we have problems with our decision making. Sligo were on top of their game, they never gave us room to shoot and they got in some great blocks, especially in the first half when our forwards were trying to shoot from a standing position. On top of that their half-back line attacked us all game. Sligo were by far the better team today,” she said.

The Mayo woman was disappointed with the lack of leadership shown by the team when the game was in the melting pot.

“When we went ahead we needed leaders on the field but no one really stood up there today for us. My heart went out to Aisling Hanly because the weight was all on her shoulders. It was tough for her when others on the team were not doing their stuff.

“We are very lucky to have come in here with the two wins because this performance today has really shown just how far behind (we are to) where we need to be and how much work we have to do. The girls will have to learn in a short space of time. We are blessed to have that game against Laois next week but looking at today’s performance I wouldn’t be too confident”.

Finally, Diane had huge praise for panel member Aoife O’Rourke who is the talk of the county since her qualification for the Olympic Games last weekend.

“The girls were all talking about Aoife today and Lisa (Aoife’s sister) was also on the panel and she is away boxing too. It’s great that they are having such success and everyone is so proud of their achievements but from my point of view, I have lost two players. We all wish Aoife the very best in the Olympics,” she concluded.

Roscommon now face Laois in a league semi-final this weekend in what will be another welcome challenge for the team ahead of the championship.