Roscommon find few home comforts with visit of Donegal
Only big win over Donegal will give them something to play for in final Super 8s game
Roscommon manager Kevin McStay: decidedly downbeat about his team’s chances in remaining Super 8s. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho
So they’re playing for pride, their development, and the integrity of the group.
Roscommon manager Kevin McStay was decidedly downbeat about what exactly his team are playing for in the remaining Super-8s stages of the football championship, beginning with the visit of Donegal to Dr Hyde Park this Saturday evening.
Last Saturday’s 18 point defeat to Tyrone – or double scores, 4-24 to 2-12 – means only a sizeable win over Donegal will give them something to play for in the final game: the trip to Croke Park to face All-Ireland champions Dublin on Sunday, August 5th.
It could also be that Roscommon will find few home comforts in Dr Hyde Park. For all the fuss over the value of home fixtures in the Super-8s, their recent record at home would suggest little advantage.
They lost the Connacht final to Galway on their home ground earlier this month, 0-16 to 2-6, and their home record in Division Two of the league wasn’t glowing – they won only two out of four (beating Cork and Cavan, losing to Down, and drawing with Meath).
In 2017, playing in Division One, they won only one home game, in the last round against Cavan, both teams then relegated. Donegal were one of the teams to make the trip to Dr Hyde Park that spring, and beat Roscommon by a point.
“The integrity of the group is stake here, our development, and most of all our own pride is going to be at stake,” said McStay ahead of Saturday’s meeting with Donegal, who kept the All-Ireland champions to five points in their opening game, and with a little more luck might have got closer still.
“But we’ve had a reaction from these sort of hammerings before, so we’d look forward to things being a bit better next day.”
The problem with those “reactions” is that they have been consistent with Roscommon’s yo-yoing form – in league or championship. They beat Galway in last year’s Connacht final coming off that league relegation, and just last Saturday week beat Armagh with a fiery performance on the back of losing the Connacht final to Galway.
Indeed McStay had been decidedly upbeat in the aftermath of that Armagh victory, just seven days previous. “It’s a different country when you’re winning these games. But we know the other side. We know the dejection of losing the Connacht final.
“It’s very important. We have three quarter-finals now to further develop this particular group. I’d even say that was a coming of age for the group. I’m not saying that we’re going to win any games in the Super 8s but we’re going to be competitive and find out a lot more about ourselves.”
McStay had also rejected the suggestion his team gave up in the closing stages of the Tyrone defeat: “Then the gap that we were hoping Tyrone wouldn’t get, that we were planning not to give them, all of a sudden they had it and they are so hard to play against once that gap opens up.”
Roscommon’s form at Dr Hyde Park 2017-018:
Played 9, won 4, lost 4, drew 1
Saturday – All-Ireland SFC quarter-final phase 2; Roscommon v Donegal, Dr Hyde Park, 5pm – Sky; Tyrone v Dublin, Healy Park, 7pm – Sky
All-Ireland JFC final: Galway v Kerry, Cusack Park, Ennis, 2pm
Leinster MFC final: Meath v Kildare, O’Connor Park, 2pm
All-Ireland MHC quarter-final round 3: Limerick v Kilkenny, Semple Stadium, 3pm
Sunday – All-Ireland SFC quarter-final phase 2; Kildare v Galway, Newbridge, 2pm – RTÉ; Monaghan v Kerry, Clones, 4pm – RTÉ