Croke Park ex­pe­ri­ence ‘money in the bank’ for young Rossies team

Fa­tigue not a fac­tor for Mayo, says man­ager Rochford

The Irish Times - Monday - Sport - - Front Page -

Kevin McS­tay has a broad­caster’s feel for this stuff. For the drama of it all and the damn lit­tle harm there is in giv­ing ex­pres­sion to that. In an RTÉ stu­dio, he might have picked this game apart with a gim­let eye and held its myr­iad flaws against it. Here and now with his Roscom­mon T-shirt on, the de­tails are un­der­stand­ably a bit sketchier.

“I can hardly re­play the last few min­utes, it got so fran­tic. I’ve a re­call of us at­tack­ing from the half-back line and hav­ing it turned over. Wouldn’t get 20m into the Mayo half and we’d have it turned over again and give it back to them. I think it’s prob­a­bly a fair re­sult over­all. I think we de­serve it. We showed a lot of bot­tle for a young team.

Many er­rors

“Ye all know we’ve never played here be­fore. Bar Sean McDer­mott, it’s a first cham­pi­onship. He’s played one; the rest have never played cham­pi­onship here, at this level. That was great. That’s money in the bank as we’d see it for the re­play, and not only for the re­play, but for next year and be­yond for our de­vel­op­ment. That was good, but we just made so many er­rors through­out the game. Just hard to get mo­men­tum when we kept turn­ing the ball over. But we never said die and kept at it.

“They now know they can play here. It was a bit like Ar­magh last night. They had a lot of rook­ies com­ing in as well. It’s a fab­u­lous sta­dium they are all reared – par­tic­u­larly down the coun­try – on play­ing here. It’s a big deal for them. They have it in their de­posit ac­count now. There are a lot of things we have to talk about: the pres­sure of Croke Park, the faster pitch, the noise. They should be well adapted to it.

“Mayo have had four games and two sets of ex­tra-time com­ing into this game, and now this is go­ing to be five games and two sets of ex­tra-time in six weeks. It will be our fourth game, and we def­i­nitely have youth on our side. Our age pro­file is a lot lower than Mayo’s, which is lovely, but then you have Mayo’s ex­pe­ri­ence on the other side.”

1Of all the ifs and buts in the game, Roscom­mon went back down the road know­ing that the goal Lee Kee­gan scored in re­sponse to Ciarán Murtagh’s in the first half was cru­cial.

“I’d just screamed at Liam [McHale] to run down and tighten ev­ery­thing. He hadn’t left the of­fi­cial’s area when it was in the back of the net. As you know, that’s when you’re vul­ner­a­ble. Maybe our lads got a bit lamped af­ter it and just didn’t pick up on the kick-out. The ball went down the field and Lee Kee­gan got in and did what Lee Kee­gan does.

Shock­waves

“That knocked us back hard. It’s a young team so th­ese kind of shock­waves take a while to work your way through, but at half time we felt quite de­flated. We only played for 10 or 12 min­utes. I don’t know how long it took us to get the 2-2 up – not too long, I would have thought. There was 25 or 30 min­utes of that first half. Just not good enough at this level.”

For Mayo, this was an­other dip into the well, with at least an­other one to come. We don’t know when they’re go­ing to hit the floor, but it would be no sur­prise if it was some time soon. Stephen Rochford wasn’t hav­ing that as an ex­cuse, though.

Harshly done

“We had three shots to win that game,” he said. “So I don’t think fa­tigue had any­thing to do with it. I think Stephen Coen was harshly done. He says he didn’t pick the ball clean off the ground; Donal Vaughan stood on a wa­ter bot­tle as he went to pull the trig­ger. Cil­lian O’Con­nor got a clean hit in the mid­dle of the field. They kicked the equaliser off the foul that was called on Stephen Coen.

“It’s an easy an­swer to say it’s fa­tigue. We were still driv­ing on in to that six min­utes of in­jury time, so guys are in good con­di­tion and they’ll be in good con­di­tion next week. The re­al­ity is that you’re com­ing up against a good team as well. There’s no poor teams in the Cham­pi­onship at the end of July and Au­gust. Af­ter we con­ceded the 2-2, we looked re­ally solid de­fen­sively and we just didn’t click in the man­ner we opened up with. And that’s a credit to Roscom­mon.”

Malachy Clerkin at Croke Park I think it’s prob­a­bly a fair re­sult over­all. I think we de­serve it (the re­play). We showed a lot of bot­tle for a young team – Kevin McS­tay

CROMBIE/INPHO PHO­TO­GRAPH: JAMES

Roscom­mon’s Sean McDer­mott gains pos­ses­sion as Mayo’s Ja­son Do­herty closes in

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