Wednesday 28 September 2016

McStay facing test that has stumped most managements

Published 21/07/2016 | 02:30

Roscommon joint manager Kevin McStay. Photo:Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Roscommon joint manager Kevin McStay. Photo:Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Kevin McStay analysed the difficulties associated with the six-day turnaround several times during his years on 'The Sunday Game' but now it's very different.

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That was theory but this is hard practice as, together with Fergal O'Donnell, he attempts to plot a way out of a conundrum that has stumped most managers over the past 15 years.

Roscommon head for Pearse Stadium on Saturday to play Clare in a Round 4 qualifier which will, in many ways, define their season.

They do so after losing the Connacht final replay to Galway by 11 points last Sunday, leaving them with very little time to carry out psychological repairs on a squad that misfired for no obvious reason.

They would have welcomed a longer break before the Clare test as the stats for beaten provincial finalists in qualifiers on the following weekend are not encouraging.

In fact, just three of 18 won in the 15 years the qualifiers have been in existence. Dublin (v Sligo) in 2001, Down (v Tipperary) in 2012 and Donegal (v Laois)in 2013 were the only teams to survive the quick turnaround.

Cork (2001), Tipperary (2002), Down, Limerick, Kildare (2003), Limerick, Laois (2004), Galway, Antrim (2009), Sligo, Monaghan (2010), Derry (2011), Meath (2012), London (2013) and Cork (2015) all failed.

Difficult

The figures show just how difficult it is for counties to re-adjust quickly after losing a provincial final. It's especially challenging in Roscommon's case after being so comprehensively outclassed by Galway.

McStay admitted afterwards that his side were well beaten by half-time, leaving the second half as a period that simply had to be endured before re-focusing on the qualifier challenge.

Roscommon's form has dipped since winning four of their first five Allianz League Division 1 games in February-March.

Since then, they have won only three of eight games, beating New York, Leitrim and Sligo in the Connacht SFC.

New York ran them to a point, while Sligo led by eight points at half-time before Roscommon powered on.

They lost to Mayo, Dublin and Kerry in the league and to Galway in the championship, having also drawn with the Tribesmen.

Clare are approaching Saturday's game in a very upbeat mood, having beaten Laois and Sligo in successive qualifier rounds to leave them one win away from creating history by reaching the All-Ireland quarter-finals for the first time.

Despite the contrasting approach routes, Roscommon are favourites to win and book an All-Ireland quarter-final clash with Kerry.

Irish Independent

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