Sunday 18 March 2018

'A young team got steamrolled by an experienced team - it was one-way traffic'

Roscommon manager Kevin McStay. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Roscommon manager Kevin McStay. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

Kevin McStay gives it to you straight between the eyes. His Roscommon side had just been dismantled and there's no way he'll try and dress it up as anything other than a hammering.

It's just not in his make up.

"One team got their stuff together and the other team fell off a cliff," McStay opens his post-match briefing.

"The pace and power we knew Mayo had we thought was maybe waning a bit but they brought it to the table from throw-in. A young team got steamrolled by an experience team - it was one-way traffic and they were miles ahead of us."

And within that lies all the necessary analysis. There are ifs and buts but he accepts it would have made little difference to the result. Maybe his team were a little tired in the build-up but it's not offered as a excuse.

"We did very, very little, we were quite tired, it took a lot out of us the first trip to the stadium. We just did a bit of shooting practice on Saturday and that really was it. The lads who didn't play last time trained fairly hard on Wednesday.

"They were great, they were fine. In the pre-match, it's hard to believe, but we came up on the bus from the hotel thinking 'this is going to be hugely competitive and we'll get it down to the wire and then see what the scoreboard says when we're walking off the field.' 

"It's hard to believe we could have got ourselves into that mindspace and then go out and what happened, happened."

It's put to McStay that Mayo's first goal came about after Kevin McLoughlin bounced the ball twice but the Roscommon manager isn't looking for reasons for the defeat outside of the obvious ones. From pillar to post, they were dominated.

"I was screaming at the linesman and I was a good bit away from the play, but that's a small thing," he said.

"Momentum is a big thing around here and after that they were looking for goals every second chance they got - they were looking to kill it off.

"We can have no complaints and if they continue to play like that they'll test their next opponent."

Kerry are next up for Stephen Rochford's Mayo. On this evidence, they are well placed to rattle the national league champions but McStay admits Roscommon's poor performance might not give an accurate reflection on just how good Mayo are.

"We never got going today. We were poor, so it'd be hard to judge where they are. All the games this weekend, it looks like there's a big, big gap (to the top teams).

"I'm not sure there is, but it looks like that on the evidence of the weekend. Mayo just looked enthusiastic to play football, they went back to their hard running game off the shoulder, they've big, powerful, athletic men.

"When they get their confidence up and their touch up, they must have checked us out for eight or nine goal opportunities in the match."

McStay is forthright when he admits he thought the hard running days of this Mayo team were behind them.

"Like most observers, I thought that - but they arrived with a lot of energy today," he reasons.

McStay admits the defeat "leaves a smell" but he's keen to stress the positives. Roscommon are Connacht champions and will continue their development in the slightly more forgiving surrounds of Division 2 next Spring. They'll come back in 2018 a year older, wiser and stronger for he experiences of this season.

"I'm certainly going to try my best when we get back to the hotel to emphasise the positives and the strides we've made as a group. It leaves a little bit of a smell, for sure, it's not a nice way to finish your season - but we're in good company. Most of the second tier teams have said goodbye to the Championship with fairly big margins of defeat.

"We've won a Connacht Championship, we're well-placed next year in Division 2 to continue developing the team, away from the pressures of Division 1 .

"I'll be saying 'Take a few months off, go back to the club stuff, and we go again'. I'd be hopeful that we'll further improve. I'm going to take plenty of positives." 

Irish Independent

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