Monday 20 August 2018

Expansive Rossies not scarred by Mayo hiding - Dowd

Ger Dowd. Photo: Sportsfile
Ger Dowd. Photo: Sportsfile
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

The scale of their All-Ireland quarter-final replay defeat to Mayo last August had little impact on Roscommon, according to selector Ger Dowd.

As they put their Connacht championship on the line against Leitrim in Carrick-on-Shannon tomorrow (5.30), Dowd feels the lessons taken from that hammering have already served them well as they quickly bounced back to Division 1 for 2019.

"It didn't have as big an impact on the team as maybe a lot of observers would have thought," he reflected.

"It's quite a young team, we were on a bit of a roller-coaster, winning Connacht, getting to Croke Park, being involved in those occasions was fantastic," he said.

"We have to remember the first day, even though we played in fits and starts, we were still one pass away at the end, David Murray's pass was intercepted by Aidan O'Shea.

"We could have been in an All-Ireland semi-final. It was that tight and games are like that," he reflected.

"The second day, you'd have to say Mayo's greater experience, their knowledge, they know what they are at. They've been in Croke Park, it's like a second home to them.

"When they got on top of us they strangled us and we couldn't get out of there, so I don't think it really impacted on us as a group."

Roscommon have welcomed back Cathal Cregg and the Daly brothers, Conor, Niall and Ronan, who all left the squad last year.

However, they have lost Sean Mullooly and Cian Connolly from last year while Niall Collins remains based in New York.

The thought of having all of their players available is a tantalising one as Dowd feels the squad is at its strongest for some time.

"We don't have the biggest pick in the world, we would readily admit that, you'd always love to have everyone on the same page and in the same place but emigration, moving away, it's part of what happens and you just have to live with it," added Dowd. "We'd certainly welcome back any of those guys."

Roscommon will also set out to play an expansive game.

"The philosophy from Kevin (McStay) and Liam MacHale and myself is to play attacking football.

"There's a lot of talk about negativity. We do play as attacking a game as we can.

"We feel we have a lot of skilful forwards and we like to involve them in the game and move the ball as quickly as we can."

Roscommon have won their most recent provincial titles (2001 and 2010) in isolation so Dowd and Roscommon are hoping to set that record straight this year.

"It seems like it's every 10 years or so. That is something we can't just be happy with as a group.

"We've been trying since we've been involved to change the culture of the group and the culture of what we're about.

"We should be in more Connacht finals than we have been in the last number of years and that we're going to be there and trying to win them. Not just turning up."

Irish Independent

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