Friday 23 March 2018

Hats off to Monaghan as Fergal's cap cops it

Roscommon manager Fergal O'Donnell reacts after Monaghan scored a late goal (SPORTSFILE)
Roscommon manager Fergal O'Donnell reacts after Monaghan scored a late goal (SPORTSFILE)
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

Managers' caps aren't noted for giving post-match quotes, which is a pity because, if they were, Fergal O Donnell's loyal head protectors would have had quite a lot to say last Sunday.

We carried a wonderful sequence of pictures here on Monday by Sportsfile's Stephen McCarthy, showing the Roscommon joint-manager tossing his cap to the ground before applying a hefty right boot to it after Monaghan grabbed a late match-winning goal.

Who said that the League doesn't count? The pictures brilliantly captured O'Donnell's dismay as he saw two precious Division 1 points cruelly snatched from a squad that will need every break they can get to survive in the top flight.

Their opening game against Monaghan was always seen as crucial to Roscommon's chances of survival in Division 1, where it usually takes six points to avoid relegation.

The big question now for Roscommon is: where can they pick up six points from games against Kerry (away), Cork (away), Down (home), Donegal (away), Mayo (home) and Dublin (home)?

Still, even if they are relegated, it will leave them in good shape for the championship, having gained lots of experience against all the top sides.

History shows that Division 1 is the place to be for teams with genuine championship ambitions. In Roscommon's case, supplanting Mayo as Connacht champions is the initial target, albeit a very difficult one.

They would have loved a winning start to the League but, as Kevin McStay, their other joint-manager, said: "Monaghan have that bit of grizzle about them."

So too does O'Donnell, judging from his cap-kicking.

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