Tuesday 20 August 2019

'They had a much stronger bench' - Peter Canavan on how the Roscommon subs tipped the balance against Mayo

Enda Smith of Roscommon celebrates following the Connacht GAA Football Senior Championship Semi-Final match between Mayo and Roscommon at Elverys MacHale Park in Castlebar, Mayo. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Enda Smith of Roscommon celebrates following the Connacht GAA Football Senior Championship Semi-Final match between Mayo and Roscommon at Elverys MacHale Park in Castlebar, Mayo. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

John Morley

Tyrone legend Peter Canavan believes that the Roscommon substitutes tipped the balance in Anthony Cunningham's side's favour against Mayo in Castlebar last Saturday.

Roscommon secured a first championship win away to Mayo for 33 years after seeing off James Horan's team by 2-12 to 0-17, after Fintan Cregg kicked a dramatic late winner.

Roscommon secured their place in a fourth straight Connacht final as a result, with Mayo being dumped into the qualifiers for the fourth consecutive year too.

Speaking on the Throw-In podcast in association with Bord Gáis Energy, Canavan highlighted the courage it took for Cunningham to keep some of his key men in reserve.

"Without a doubt [Roscommon] had a much stronger bench than Mayo and their bench made a big difference but, with ten minutes to go, he also decided to use up all of his bench.

"If Roscommon lost that game I imagine he would have been heavily criticised for playing the last ten minutes with only fourteen players," said Canavan.

Due to the fact that Roscommon had used all their full compliment of replacements, David Murray's 68th minute black card put the visitors down to fourteen men for the remainder of the match.

"That was a gamble that [Cunningham] was willing to take, and I think when you have the quality that he has, I think he knew all along that there was no point having them there unless he was going to use them, so that gamble certainly paid off," said Canavan.

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Canavan believes that the Mayo players were complacent in their approach to the game, highlighting the loose defending on Roscommon's key men as a massive contributor to their loss.

"They were slow to get to grips with key men, Cathal Cregg, nobody was on him in the opening minutes of the game and he had a big say on it. It was only when Lee Keegan went on him that they stifled his influence.

"Conor Cox, it's very seldom that you see Brendan Harrison get that kind of roasting and every time the ball was played in, it was a one on one situation. There wasn't any other defenders or midfielder coming back to give him a hand.

"There was a bit of complacency in this Mayo team as well" he added.

Irish Independent GAA reporter Michael Verney was very impressed with the Roscommon attack, especially Conor Cox who was 'surplus to requirements' in the Kingdom.

"[Cox] was probably surplus to requirements down in Kerry and he's made an unbelievable name for himself. He was brilliant. Every time he got the ball he looked like he was going to score and he kicked some outrageous points.

Irish Independent GAA correspondent Martin Breheny believes the team cannot afford to be without All Star goalie David Clarke after Rob Hennelly's poor performance between the sticks.

"The goalkeeping situation caused Mayo untold problems in the All Ireland final, where they dropped the All Star for the replay against Dublin.

"In my view David Clarke is a better goalkeeper than Robert Hennelly and yet he wasn't there on Saturday, that's James Horan's choice but, if they can afford to be without David Clarke that's some team, but I don't think they can," said Breheny.

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