Rossies advance with ease

I’m not long in the door from Hyde Park, to where I took a trip this afternoon to see Roscommon take on Leitrim for the right to play us in the Connacht semi-final in two weeks time. The match was a disappointment, with the Rossies winning at their ease in a contest that was utterly devoid of any spark.

Like, I’d say, many of the punters who turned up in bright warm sunshine at Hyde Park this afternoon I was expecting Leitrim to put up a bit of a battle in this game. Terry Hyland’s charges had given us a decent rattle in the FBD at the start of January, following which they won promotion from Division Four and earned a day out at Croke Park, so they should have gone into today’s match in good spirits. Roscommon, meanwhile, ended up getting relegated from the top tier and so might have been perceived as a bit vulnerable ahead of today’s fixture.

Not a bit of it. It soon became apparent this afternoon that this wasn’t going to be a contest between a Division Two side and a Division Three one, regardless of the fact that that’s where Roscommon and Leitrim will be plying their respective trades next spring. Instead, this was Division One against Division Four right down the line.

In fairness to Leitrim, they could have a had a goal right at the start today before the home team got going at all. Big midfielder Shane Moran – who operated inside at full-forward – claimed the first ball in and it took some nifty defending to prevent him from slipping it to the net.

But once Roscommon did get going, it was with intent. Five minutes passed before the game’s first score arrived but when it did it was significant, with another midfielder – this time Roscommon’s Shane Killoran – smashing the ball to the net.

The same player – named Man of the Match at full-time – did so even more emphatically ten minutes later. When Diarmuid Murtagh followed this up with a point right after, Roscommon were already six to the good and pulling away sharply.

Niall Kilroy’s goal shortly before half-time put the contest to bed. Roscommon went in twelve points in front and from then on they coasted through the game in the most comfortable fashion, winning by fourteen points, on a scoreline of 3-17 to 0-12, at the finish.

Leitrim battled gamely after the break but could make no headway through the deep-lying cover the home side kept in place from start to finish. At one point in the second half, with Leitrim on the attack, I spotted that every Rossie player bar one was back inside his own 50-yard line. This blanket was deployed repeatedly throughout the afternoon.

Another home tactic was the tactical foul, which meant Leitrim’s attacks repeatedly broke down well away from Roscommon’s goal. Leitrim got five points from frees for these kinds of fouls after the break but they didn’t manage to raise a single white flag from open play during the entire second half.

So, what will James Horan and his colleagues be mulling over before we lock horns with the Rossies in a fortnight’s time? For starters, I’d say their structured, defensive style will need to be looked at, as they’re certain to deploy the same approach in Castlebar.

It’s a standard enough blanket style, one that seeks to flood their backline with bodies, clog up the channels and force turnovers. Today it was Killoran, Daly and Harney who did most of the hard running once they’d got the ball back but I felt they were a bit one-dimensional in how they advanced. It was all pass-run, pass-run, pass-run, with little in the way of forty-yarder kick passes. It’d be hard to keep that tactic up all day against the likes of us.

While I can see this kind of tactic could frustrate the hell out of us – it’s worked very well against us for Galway over the last few years – ultimately it risks sending them down an unimaginative cul-de-sac. It only works if the other lot don’t get a run at you early on so that’s what we should be aiming to do in two weeks from now.

In that regard, I thought their backline – although far from stressed-tested today – offers opportunities for us. Although David Murray did a superb job on Ryan O’Rourke, Seán Mullooly at full-back looked a bit uncertain and I’m not sure how well their defence would fare when faced with the kind of sustained assault we’ll be aiming to unleash upon them.

Restarts weren’t a problem for them today either but it’ll be a different story if we push up and go full court on them. Going long shouldn’t be as profitable for them as it was today, what with Aidan O’Shea and Mattie Ruane to contend with in that sector.

Despite this, Roscommon are sure to come into the semi-final with a fair degree of confidence, having negotiated this potentially tricky opening test in the easiest manner possible. We’ll ask them all sorts of weightier questions the next day but today Anthony Cunningham’s charges showed that they’ll come to Castlebar with a few questions of their own that they’ll be aiming to pose of us. We’ll need to be well primed to ensure we’re in a position to provide the required answers then.

15 thoughts on “Rossies advance with ease

  1. Whatever Roscommon have planned for us we should be well versed by now in dealing with it. So let’s just go beat em

  2. Anything less than 100% focus by our lads on Roscommon over the next two weeks and there could be a major upset on the cards. Horan is well wise of the pitfalls of even a hint of complacency in the minds of any of his players – but he can’t shut it out completely, especially when the general vibe amongst many supporters over the past few months has been to disregard any threat posed by this talented Roscommon team. Lets not have a repeat of our last Sat evening connacht championship game in 2016 when the same type of general complacency clearly infiltrated the minds of the players ahead of the game. Expect Horan to be much a stronger in this regard.

  3. I and my Leitrim connections were not a bit surprised with the result today. If Leitrim were to have a chance they needed to put their best 15 on the field from the start but they avoided this fairly obvious? tactic. Pearse Dolan is player taken of in nearly every, if not every, league game they played but the still persisted with him today. Fergal McTague played very little football during the league. Dean McGovern is a natural midfielder and a player who either started or came on in all games and never fails to impress but was kept on the line until the game was decided.
    Regards Mayo’s focus, I don’t think it has been found wanting since that famous day in London in 2011. It wasn’t in New York and I don’t think it will be in Castlebar next day out either.
    Mind did Donegal U20’s, beaten by Mayo hand out a fair thrashing to their Rossie counterparts? I really enjoyed seeing a backpass to the Rossie goalie intercepted and tapped into the net.

  4. Great report WJ well done to you. I was always expecting Roscommon to win this one but not by 14 points. I believe Roscommon left a lot of scores behind and this run out will bring them on. I cannot wait for May 25th. Mayo by 5

  5. Was hoping for a Leitrim upset today => I would’ve booked my flight shortly thereafter for 6/16. Unfortunately have to wait 13 more days. Better safe than sorry. Still fully expect to be in Pearce, assuming Galway can get past Sligo ?

  6. Another issue my Leitrim connections pointed out to me was that Fergal McTague, named at No 3, his normal club position, started at midfield although he had never played there at any stage for his club. Or for the county either until today. One sometimes wonder why team managements are so insistant in complicating things. Was it a wonder that the Rossie’s first two goals came from midfield? Their third came from a misplaced short sideline kick which went straight to a Rossie.

  7. I think it was a black card for Diarmuid Murtagh and not a red as stated on the audio clip. Good comfortable win for the rossies when you consider Galway,Meath,Kildare,Clare all struggled v Div 4 teams and Tipp were well beaten by Limerick.

  8. There seems to be confusion over what concoction of cards, got Conor Daly sent off..I saw the red flashed, so thought he’ll miss the Mayo match through suspension.
    But other people now have a different angle on it…Leitrim Gaa reported that he got a yellow and black, =red…while the Irish Times report that he got two yellows.

    Imo, yesterday’s Roscommon performance won’t beat Mayo in 2 weeks time, although I’m sure we’ll see the 2 Smith’s back for that game.

  9. Looking at the highlights from ros game via Sunday game I don’t think they looked brilliant but who knows in a game like that , they would of known after ten mins they had them . Our game will be totally different obviously . For me a lot of it will boil down to how effective ruane will be , middle of the park is where a lot of these games are won or lost . We have had their number for years now with our middle third , dirty ball , breaking ball etc ,just simply better athletes , tougher , stronger, s & c whatever term ya want to use , our bucks are better than any other team in this department when in form with the exception of the jacks perhaps .

    I’d expect a win but would treat the challenge with the respect it deserves . We are going out to win a connacht championship and it should be full steam ahead from next sat week.

    Do ye think cillian will play ?

  10. A lot of good points there Sean.
    Not only are we wondering if Cillian will play, but also will Diarmuid play ?

    One of these days, Ros will win in Castlebar, and everything needs to be spot on, to make sure that this isn’t the year.

  11. Great report WJ. Does anyone know if there is any game proceeding the Mayo Roscommon game on the 25th?

  12. @clubman51 the game proceeding it will be the Connacht Junior semi final Mayo v Leitrim

  13. Galway effortless first gear stroll through Sligo sees them into their fourth provincial final on the trot. Kieran Molloy went off injured , don’t think it’s too bad though, popped shoulder . Martin farragher came on with few mins to go and scored 1-1 for the hell of it, corofin lads making a positive impact on Galway panel . Ya get the feeling Galway will be very confident of retaining the Nestor cup whether it be ourselves or the ros they meet in the final. Galway support will be increasing slowly but surely now too for the final especially if it’s ourselves , they love a bit of lording over little old Mayo .

  14. Sean, I went to the Sligo Galway game, men against boys, this is a young inexperienced Sligo side, and Galway bullied them.
    Liam Silke very impressive, Galway dominated midfield and two quick goals killed the game early in the second half. If Galway played an attacking style, they could be great to watch, but this is not there current style.
    They will be hard beaten but not unbeatable by any manner.

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