Sunday 25 August 2019

Rossies stronger than last year - McDermott

Anthony Cunningham. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Anthony Cunningham. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Daragh Small

Former Roscommon captain Seánie McDermott says the experience of having played in the Super 8s last year, even with two heavy defeats in Croke Park, has helped shape them to do much better this time around.

Tyrone and Dublin both scored 4-24 in their victories over Kevin McStay's men last summer, with Donegal also securing victory with a 0-20 to 0-13 success at Dr Hyde Park.

The Rossies have been transformed under former Galway hurling manager Anthony Cunningham, and McDermott, who retired after last season, says the green shoots were there even before he left the panel.

"I saw the potential. And it is amazing what one win will do for you, that was the win against Mayo," said McDermott.

"Anthony is bringing that hurling edge to it. I am not really surprised with how it is all going. The Mayo game was the big one. That was the monkey off the back, a real confidence-booster.

"They beat Mayo because everything was right in the camp.

"I knew myself that if Roscommon were in the game with 10 minutes to go, they could win because of their forwards."

Roscommon's 2-12 to 0-17 win at MacHale Park in Castlebar on May 25, was a first championship success there since 1986 and they followed it up by beating Galway to claim their second Connacht title in three years.

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Now they are in their second successive Super 8s, one of five teams who have qualified both years.

"Roscommon are structurally more well set-up this year, in relation to shoring up the middle, and trying not to concede what we had been conceding," added the 35-year old.

"That is the key. Your house has to be in order first and then you can look after what happens up front.

"Last year we weren't ready for the Super 8s in a lot of ways.

"The big thing in the Super 8s is that you have to go into the first game a bit cautious, making sure to be in the game at half-time, no more than they did against Mayo."

Roscommon drew with Tyrone 1-10 apiece back in February in Hyde Park after Mickey Harte's men came from six points down.

Both teams have come a long way since that February fixture in the rain, and McDermott, who runs his own barber shop in Ballaghaderreen and still plays club football for Western Gaels, believes today's Dr Hyde Park renewal will be much tighter than 12 months ago.

"Roscommon have to stay in the game, don't allow Tyrone to suck them up the field and get in behind them with their running game. That is what will keep Roscommon in it," said McDermott.

"They have a great chance but it is going to be tough. Tyrone are picking up momentum as the year goes on. It will be a tough, tough game, but the lads will be well set. I don't think it will be anything like the game that was last year. I don't think that is going to happen whatsoever. I don't see it being a high-scoring game either.

"Roscommon's mentality is: 'We are going to be in this game, by hook or crook, at half-time and with 10 minutes to go.'"

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