Monday 22 July 2019

Miserable nights simply serve to make great ones even better


David Goulden - The Red Zone

"A better standard of misery" is how one Rovers supporter on social media, aptly described the post match feeling coming back down the N15 on Friday night.

Four days since what was without doubt the Bit O'Red's poorest, most abject performance of the season and it still feels as despondent as it did at full-time.

But again there is that optimism that comes with the current team. They know how bad it was and you really get the feeling that, for the most, they want to make up for it.

Liam Buckley was escorted to the small press room at Finn Park by a Harps official totally dejected.

He looked like a man who had to deliver the worst possible news to someone.

He knew how bad his team's display was and told reporters, some in private, as much.

Even during the game, he paced the mouth of the dugout raising his arms in frustration on more than several occasions in reaction to what was being played out in front him.

Not for the first time this season, this was not the way things were meant to go.

Like a parent who warned their children not to misbehave, only to see them cause havoc, Buckley seemed and sounded extremely let down. Almost embarrassed to recall the story of the game.

His team have limits in certain areas and he knows that. He knows the squad isn't strong enough in places. But if there's a man to turn things around, I think we have him at the Showgrounds.

Friday was another blip, just a big one. There was no urgency, a real lack of cohesiveness and joined up thinking. Maybe the break came at the wrong time considering recent form?

Harps out-battled Rovers. They too are limited, even more than Rovers. But they have characters in the squad who are willing to graft, kick, run and drag the game down to a more basic level where the more artistic footballers can't play their game.

They did it to Waterford a few weeks ago and they did it to Rovers in the EA Sports Cup. It's not pretty, but it's effective and it's already worked for them this season.

You can't argue that Rovers should have won that game, or at least produce more than one shot on target. Players like Romeo Parkes and Ronan Murray should have stood out in that game. Instead, Parkes looked lost without Ronan Coughlan buzzing around him. While we're still waiting to see Murray even close to his best on a consistent basis.

There have been a few games this season where Rovers have sorely underwhelmed in the first half only to improve several-fold in the second.

I'm thinking in particular of the second half against Cork recently along Waterford and UCD away where it didn't go to plan in the opening half.

A word in the ear, one or two tactical switches or a personnel change made the difference.

There was a half-time substitution, but it made no difference. Just one of those nights I guess.

Fortunately, there probably wasn't a better way to quickly improve the mood.

UCD, with nine defeats from nine on the road and the loss of two, reported to soon become three, key players were the visitors.

The players let themselves down in Ballybofey and they know it. Some big performances would have been expected last night and demanded more so.

The two games over the last five days were massive opportunities to extend that gap between ourselves and the bottom two and keep up with the chasing pack.

Buckley's last words in the press-room on Friday were about moving on to last night's game and putting the Harps game behind us. He knows what's required.

There was misery, quite a bit of it. We shouldn't be talking about defeat and such a hapless performance against a part-time outfit.

There was defeat, but there's still an abundance of positivity around the club at the moment. It's not a chore to go to games as it was at times last season. Things have changed, for the better.

Those miserable nights make the great ones even better.

Sligo Champion