Thursday 13 December 2018

Kevin McStay adamant that Hyde Park will host Connacht final

Connacht SFC semi-final: Roscommon 0-24 Leitrim 0-10

Roscommon manager Kevin McStay. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Roscommon manager Kevin McStay. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Independent.ie newsdesk

A row over the venue for the Connacht final is set to erupt if Galway justify favouritism against Sligo next weekend in their semi-final to set up a decider with Roscommon for the third season in a row.

That happened two years ago when the final went to a replay but with last year's decider in Galway, Roscommon manager Kevin McStay is adamant they will enjoy home advantage this time round.

"Whether that's a difficult position for the Connacht Council or the GAA at a national level, that doesn't bother me," said McStay, whose men are bidding to retain the title for the first time since 1991.

"I'm the manager of the Roscommon senior football team and my responsibility is to the 34 players to give us the best chance of retaining our title. My sense is that that's at home. A home venue is a big advantage in Gaelic football.

"We are in the Connacht final, we have the home venue. It will be played in the Hyde. I have no doubt it will.

"We'll certainly be turning up in the Hyde. I hope someone else is there to meet us on the day and we'd be very, very absolute about that. We'll be there and let's see."

Jack Heslin of Leitrim in action against Niall Kilroy of Roscommon. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Jack Heslin of Leitrim in action against Niall Kilroy of Roscommon. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

McStay was pleased with the way his men saw off the limited challenge of a defensive Leitrim side who went 40 minutes without scoring.

But he warned that they will have to improve if they are to retain their Connacht title next month.

"I can say the exact same thing that I said this time last year. We have an ocean of work to do. This is the game of our lives to see if we can do a two in a row and retain our title," he said.

"That is the one thing we want to do. That's where our energies are right now. We had no injuries which was good. And we did give a lot of lads game-time. The first half was very pedestrian from our point of view. Our forwards were well off the mark in the first half."

Paddy Maguire of Leitrim in action against Diarmuid Murtagh of Roscommon. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Paddy Maguire of Leitrim in action against Diarmuid Murtagh of Roscommon. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

With the Murtagh brothers, Diarmuid and Ciaráin, outstanding they pulled away to lead by 0-10 to 0-2 at the break, having played with the wind.

The sides were level at 0-2 each after nine minutes but Leitrim, playing too many men behind the ball, did not score again until 14 minutes into the second half.

Three second-half subs, Damien Moran, Darragh Rooney and Ryan O'Rourke, contributed more than half Leitrim's total, but those six points were never going to be enough for them to mount a comeback.

Cathal Cregg came off the bench for the champions and kicked four excellent points and by the end when John McManus became the third member of the half-back line to score, a total of 13 players found the target for Roscommon.

Leitrim, hoping to prevent an eighth successive loss to their neighbours and reach their first Connacht title since 2000, were never in the hunt and must now regroup for the qualifiers.

"The fact that we're in the second round of the qualifiers, it's going to be a difficult opposition that we're going to face but we just have to regroup on Tuesday night, focus on ourselves and plan accordingly," said manager Benny Guckian.

"I don't think there's going to be any weaker teams after the first round. I think regardless of who we get it'll be a challenge and we'll use it to see how we're progressing.

"Home advantage would be very important for us that we would get home advantage," he added.

Scorers - Roscommon: D Murtagh 0-5 (1f); C Cregg 0-4; C Murtagh 0-3 (1f); D Smith & E Smith 0-2 each; C Devaney, C Compton, N Kilroy, F Cregg, B Stack, S Killoran, J McManus & T O'Rourke 0-1 each. Leitrim: D Moran 0-3; K Beirne (1f) & D Rooney 0-2 each; R O'Rourke, E Mulligan ('45') & S Quinn 0-1 each.

Roscommon: C Lavin 7; D Murray 7, P Domican 7, N McInerney 7; J McManus 6, Fintan Cregg 7, B Stack 6; C Compton 7, T O'Rourke 7; E Smith 8, N Kilroy 8, C Devaney 7; D Smith 8, D Murtagh 9, C Murtagh 8. Subs: C Daly 7 for E Smith (52), C Cregg 8 for C Murtagh (52), S Killoran7 for B Stack (59), R Stack 6 for Kilroy (59), Finbar Cregg 7 for D Smith (61), P Kelly 6 for Compton (66).

Leitrim: D McKiernan 7; A Armstrong 6, P Maguire 7, M McWeeney 6; N Plunkett 6, S Quinn 6, J Rooney 7; M Plunkett 6, D McGovern 7; J Heslin 5, E Mulligan 6, B Gallagher 5; A Flynn 5, K Beirne 6, D Wrynn 5. Subs: R O'Rourke 6 for Heslin (36), D Rooney 7 for Beirne (43), D Moran 7 for M Plunkett (52), O Madden 6 for C Murtagh (52), E Ward 5 for J Rooney (68), D Flynn 5 for A Flynn (70).

ref - J McQuillan (Cavan)

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