Two games and two convincing defeats against Division One teams should tell Kevin McStay and his team all they need to know about what awaits them in 2019.
However, if they did need any hints following last Saturday’s loss to Donegal at Dr. Hyde Park, opinions on gameplans, strength and conditioning and kick out strategy have been offered from armchairs, barstools and social media accounts. Some comments have been insightful, and some, well, not so much.
One of the most interesting comments this writer read on social media in the last few days focussed on a perceived deficit in the Roscommon players’ conditioning. The user called for the midfield to be “bulked up” and for Cathal Compton and Tadhg O’Rourke to add “about 10-29kg of muscle”.
Now, while I’m quite obviously not a strength and conditioning expert myself, it is clearly important to leave plenty of wiggle room (pardon the pun) when discussing elite inter-county conditioning – 19kg of wiggle room in fact!
This time next year there will be complaints from the same social media account when Compton and O’Rourke miss throw-in because they’re stuck in the dressing room trying to squeeze into their ‘player fit’ jerseys.
Anyway back to last Saturday and I could empathise with Kevin McStay at the half-time whistle. There’s no doubt in my mind that a lot of work has been done in the last two years (and more) with these Roscommon players. Between training sessions, gym work and preparation behind the scenes such as video analysis etc., modern inter-county management and coaching has become an all-consuming project.
The fact that Roscommon were so far out of their depth this year in the Super 8s will hurt but that doesn’t mean the work over the last few seasons has been in vain. This is a relatively young team with Connacht and Division Two titles under their belts. There may even be the possibility of reinforcements ahead of Division One – and in fairness to the current team, players like Sean Mullooly and Neil Collins would be a big loss to most counties.
While the 2018 Super 8s has been a difficult experience for everyone involved in Roscommon football, other counties have used similar disappointments to further improve. Given time and support, I believe this Roscommon team has the potential to do the same.