Maybe the hype got to Roscommon - Cregg
Forward aims to park New York near miss as Leitrim loom
Published 11/05/2016 | 02:30
At training last night, Roscommon got down to the business of moving on from New York and their American nightmare.
Any sober analysis of what happened in the Bronx falls short of explaining what was so nearly the greatest upset in championship history.
It should have been straightforward but in the end, Roscommon were, unbelievably, praying for the final whistle. Indeed, Cathal Cregg admits that but for an excellent Geoffrey Claffey save, they might have been done.
"In the last couple of minutes they got on a bit of a run and they got four points on the trot and Geoffrey Claffey pulled off a great save at the end that went over for a point. If that goal had gone in we would have been under serious pressure.
"Thankfully, it didn't go on for another couple of minutes and we got out of there."
In the search for answers, some pointed to the fundraisers that a handful of the players attended - which helped swell the coffers by some €300,000 - as an example of how Roscommon's preparations weren't ideal. The weather played hell too. Roscommon trained in Gaelic Park on the Saturday and stopped the session to apply sunscreen but on Sunday the rain fell in buckets.
The pitch has its peculiarities too but Cregg has his own theories - among them that, after a progressive league campaign, Roscommon fell into the trap of believing their own hype.
"We have a young team and none of us have experienced that. I'm there a good few years now, there was a lot of hype surrounding the league. We did an awful lot better than anyone expected us to do, we were expected to go straight back down to Division 2. Maybe that got to us, I'm not quite sure."
New York hadn't been lying in the long grass either. They banged the drum in the build-up about how their team was the best they'd had since Joe Kernan's Galway were rattled to their core in 2010, with the dismissal of two New York players eventually derailing their challenge.
Cregg, who is in his 11th season with Roscommon, also points out that New York have better players than they are given credit for.
"It was my third trip over. I went the first year, and that was hard enough, And like London last year, it's a no-win situation, and generally not that easy. Like Mayo got it hard in London a few years ago, Galway had it hard in New York. It's not all it's cracked up to be.
"To be fair to New York, a lot of people put them down. Go through their team, an awful lot have played at least minor or U-21, and been on inter-county panels.
"They're good quality players, and sometimes people can be a small bit disrespectful to them too.
"As I said, we missed an awful lot of chances, and you can't be doing that against players of that level."
The Rossies returned home on Tuesday morning of last week and went straight into club championship action. And last night they gathered to prepare for Sunday week's trip to Carrick with Cregg admitting that their confidence has taken a hammering in recent weeks.
"It took a battering in the first league game against Monaghan. We probably should have won that. The Kerry, Cork and Donegal games were huge for us, getting points on the board.
"Then I suppose Mayo, Dublin, and ultimately the Kerry game was very disappointing. Because realistically it was over at half-time. Then against New York we didn't put in the performance we'd hoped. So we'll have to change it around the next 10 days to get a result against Leitrim.
"They've some very good players, Emlyn Mulligan is back, (Sean) McWeeney ... All very good players. So we're going to have to up our performance big time.
"(The hype) is well and truly dampened now! Look it, Roscommon supporters are great. Even after the game in New York there wouldn't be a whole pile of negativity around it.
"We've been very fortunate over the last couple of years with the great support we've gotten.
"I'm sure in two weeks' time down in Leitrim the support will be great again. But we need to start putting some performances together to give them something to shout about.
"Because the last couple of games have been disappointing for us."