'My kids read that' - Kevin McStay hits back at comments from ex-Roscommon boss after battling defeat
Kerry 1-19 Roscommon 1-13
Roscommon are the only team without a point to their name across the four football leagues, but manager Kevin McStay said he was delighted to see them show their mettle against Kerry at Dr Hyde Park.
A ten-point defeat to Kerry in last season's Croke Park League semi-final seemed to trigger the Rossies' collapse ahead of a disappointing Championship, but perhaps this was the day that they rediscovered themselves.
The six-point loss was harsh considering the comeback they conjured, and when Ciaran Murtagh stroked his 67th-minute penalty to the net an unlikely win looked possible.
But Paul Geaney's goal in added-time stalled the comeback and a fourth defeat on the trot will likely send the Rossies on their way back to Division 2.
A week ago McStay's side were embarrassed in MacHale Park as his native Mayo dished out the beating that prompted former Roscommon player and manager Gay Sheerin to lash out at McStay and question his right to manage the county. This performance was a definitive backing of the manager.
"I am awful proud of the way they played. They gave it a great shot," said McStay. "The week that was in it, we could have come out of it two ways and I'm just proud of the way they came out of it. We were under huge pressure.
"What is the big nonsense? This is a young team that are playing in Division 1. They are finding their way and finding their feet. I am awful pleased. I am relieved that we reacted."
McStay admitted it was a difficult week personally for him and his family after Sheerin's comments. Born in Mayo, McStay has lived most of his life in Roscommon and he says he's proud of his heritage.
"My kids read that. Of course it's tough for me. My loyalty to Roscommon is questioned because of my birthplace?" said McStay.
"My mam and dad are from Tuam, Co Galway. They left Tuam in the '40s to set up in Mayo. My father played for Tuam Stars all his life, he immediately committed to the Stephenites. When he died he was the president of Mayo GAA.
"I came here and the first thing he says is: 'if you want to be part of the community, move in with Roscommon Gaels and make your home in Roscommon'. I do that, and then to have this (said). . ."
It was a cruel finish to the game for Roscommon, who had battled back from a six-point deficit with ten minutes remaining, a stage in the game where they were reduced to 14 players following the sending-off of John McManus for striking.
This was Kerry's second win from four League games, and a win next weekend against Dublin should see them secured in the top flight for another season.
Geaney was bright throughout and his six points before the break helped them to a 0-12 to 0-7 interval lead, but having James O'Donoghue back in form will bring a smile to Eamonn Fitzmaurice's face.
"If we lost today we would have been in the relegation zone because Roscommon would have gone ahead of us on the head-to-head, so it was very important to get a win and to start trying to go the other way again," said Fitzmaurice.
"With us, we need to be at it and you know pretty quickly if they are really going at it and you could see from the start today that they really were.
"It wasn't the perfect performance but you could see that the attitude was right and if you have that right you can make up for a lot of other flaws."
Scorers - Kerry: P Geaney 1-6 (0-4fs), J O'Donoghue 0-4 (1f), J Savage, BJ Keane 0-2 each, S Enright, P Crowley, P Murphy, D Moran, S O'Brien 0-1 each. Roscommon: C Murtagh 1-2 (1-0 pen), D Murtagh (2fs), D Smith (3fs) 0-3 each, F Cregg, C Connolly 0-2 each, D O'Malley 0-1f.
Kerry - B Kealy 7; S Enright 7, K Young 6, R Shanahan 7; T Morley 6, P Crowley 6 (c), P Murphy 7; D Moran 8, J Barry 6; K McCarthy 6, J Savage 8, D Walsh 4; BJ Keane 7, P Geaney 9, J O'Donoghue 8. Subs: S O'Brien 8 for Walsh (26 BC), A Maher 7 for Barry (31), M Griffin 6 for Crowley (42), D O'Sullivan 7 for Savage (52), J Lyne 6 for Young (56), M Geaney for Keane (69).
Roscommon - D O'Malley 6; D Murray 6, S Mullooly 7, N McInerney 6; C Devaney 7, S McDermott 5, J McManus 7; E Smith 8, T O'Rourke 9; F Cregg 7, R Stack 7, S Killoran 7; D Smith 8, C Murtagh 8 (c), C Connolly 8. Subs: C Cafferkey 7 for McDermott (32), D Murtagh 8 for Connolly (h-t), N Kilroy 6 for D Smith (44), B Murtagh 5 for Cregg (58), P Brogan 5 for Murray (65).
Ref - B Cassidy (Derry).