Westmeath boss Tom Cribbin: Senior player who should be standing up are f**king laying down
Roscommon 2-13 Westmeath 0-12
Roscommon staged their own version of the Easter Rising with a major double success over the weekend but things were very different in the Westmeath camp.
On Saturday the U-21 team retained the Connacht title in a tremendous battle with Galway and yesterday, at Cusack Park, Mullingar, the senior side earned Division 1 status by defeating Westmeath.
Blood was spilt on both sides in the senior game as Roscommon wrested the initiative from a Westmeath side which at times looked threatening but ultimately failed to deliver where it counted - on the scoreline.
John Evans' side showed they had what it took to grunt, grapple and graft their way to a second successive promotion.
No wonder the Rossies supporters in the crowd of 2,712 were delighted as they thronged the pitch after the game to hail their heroes.
The team has made significant progress under the astute guidance of Kerryman Evans and he was entitled to enjoy the moment of victory yesterday.
"It was a test of character more than anything else. We had ten wides in the first half. It took a bit of needlework to get everything right," he said.
"Again, I emphasised to everybody, this was a team effort.
"They're a wonderful bunch of lads and they've improved from day to day. I suppose at the end there we won it easy, but we had some searching tests in the second half."
Evans was right about that. It was never a classic but as a derby game - and in the first league visit by Roscommon to Mullingar since 1966 - a 0-6 to 0-5 half-time lead was a little too close for comfort.
In truth, the visitors ought to have been well clear, as their wide count allowed Westmeath stay in the game longer than they should been permitted to survive.
Lake County manager Tom Cribbin felt that too many of the players which needed to step up their performance levels just did not find their stride - probably not helped by a lack of confidence.
"There was only a point in it. We knew we hadn't played well in the first half. We were just hoping that, after keeping with it until half-time and hearing some of the other scores, it might rise something in us," he said.
"The confidence is not in us at the moment but at least the players battled and kept trying, even though we weren't confident as we got near goals.
"There’s a few big players just not performing for us, I don’t know why or what’s wrong. You need your big players to perform if you’re going to deliver.
"When you’re looking at it and you’re seeing the likes of young Killian Daly probably one of your best players, just a young lad into the game. You’re expecting poor young Shane Dempsey in his first year to come on and win matches for you, when you’ve senior players… that’s just not f**kin’ not on, excuse my language. This is just not going to happen.
"These big players are not standing up. I don’t know why or what’s going on with them but it’s the main lads. You saw the other lads that work like, they put everything on the line the smaller lads there, lads that are general average players. They gave it everything but the few big lads who should be standing out and leading, f**kin’ lay down and that’s the trouble with this team. It’s lads who should be leading, chest out and showing these young lads where to go, they’re the ones that’s killin’ this team.
"There’s hard questions to be answered and asked in the next week or two. We might have to go on without a clatter of these players and just start working on these young lads for the future."
Evans left Diarmuid Murtagh, Enda Smith, and Ultan Harney - who had all been on U-21 duty the previous day - out of his starting line-up, but all three came off the bench to make significant contributions at various stages.
Murtagh was first to arrive in the 26th minute, and within 20 seconds of the second half starting, he fired over a point.
Three minutes later Roscommon's first goal came via Conor Daly, whose first attempt was blocked by a defender. That put the score at 1-7 to 0-6.
John Heslin, scorer of 0-7 overall, six from frees, narrowed the gap to three with a 39th-minute point, but Diarmuid Murtagh's elegantly-struck left-foot shot restored the Rossies' four-point margin after 45 minutes.
A number of minor clashes broke out as the pressure increased on both teams. Westmeath edged closer with scores by Heslin (two) and Ronan Foley, leaving them on 0-10 to Roscommon's 1-8 by the 59th minute.
And then, the roof caved in on the Lake County team as big Senan Kilbride linked with Daly to open the way for Kilbride to lash home Roscommon's second goal.
Over the last 10 minutes the Rossies were inspired to add on four more points while Westmeath managed only two- one by Denis Glennon and other a Heslin free.
In the closing stages Roscommon had Enda Smith dismissed on a black card and Sean McDermott on a red card for a clash with Westmeath's Kieran Martin, but those dismissals mattered little.
Man of the match: Conor Daly
Scorers: Roscommon - D Murtagh 0-4, C Daly 1-1, S Kilbride 1-0, C Murtagh 0-3 (2fs), F Kelly, D Smith, K Higgins, U Harney, C Compton 0-1 each. Westmeath: J Heslin 0-7 (6fs), S Dempsey 0-2, G Egan, R Foley, D Glennon 0-1 each.
Roscommon - D O'Malley 7; S McDermott 6, N Carty7, N Collins 7; D Keenan 7, N Daly 7, C Cafferky 7; C Shine 7, C Daly 8 ; F Kelly 6, M Healy 7, C Cregg 7; D Smith 6,S Kilbride 7, C Murtagh 7. Subs: D Murtagh 7 for D Smith (26), K Higgins7 for F Kelly (ht), E Smith 6 for C Murtagh (ht), U Harney 6 for M Healy (56) ,R Stack 6 for C Cafferky (58), C Compton for E Smith (65, BC).
Westmeath - D Quinn 7; M McCallon 6, K Maguire 7, D Lynch 6; K Daly 6, J Gilligan, J Egan; P Holloway, J Heslin 7; P Sharry (inj,9mins), G Egan 7, K Martin 7; J Stapleton 5, R Connellan 6, J Connellan 6. Subs: R Foley for P Sharry (9), S Dempsey 7 for J Stapleton (22), D Glennon 6 for J Connellan (ht), J Dolan 6 for R Connellan (43), L Smyth for R Foley (63).
Ref - F Kelly (Longford)