Seamus Duke Media

Seamus Duke Media Roscommon

Page 6 of 7

Kevin McStay Pre-Championship Interview

Kevin McStay Interview

Over the past couple of weeks a strange object called the sun has appeared in the skies over Ireland. The grass is finally beginning to grow and that long depressing winter is behind us. It’s championship time.
At the start of the year the Roscommon team manager Kevin McStay set two goals for the team. One was to be competitive in Division 2 of the league and the other was to get to the new Super 8 series.
Aim number one was delivered in fine style and now Division 1 beckons in the spring of 2019. Aim number two will get underway on Saturday the 26th May with the Connacht semi-final. So how are preparations going and where are Roscommon two weeks out from their championship debut?
Kevin sat down with me last Thursday evening for a chat.

You were very disappointed with the outcome of the junior match against Mayo

Oh I was disappointed. It didn’t work out the way we had hoped at all. It’s a setback if you want it to be that. But the reality is that too many of the lads did not perform on the night and my sense is that we have left a provincial title behind us where a lot of young players would have been involved, wearing the Roscommon jersey. We also had a few guys coming back from injury as well who needed game time. You have to take your hat off to Mayo. They kept at it and never gave up and they had a bit of luck at the end so I have to admit that we were disappointed because we put a bit into it. Our lads have been together for the last three months or so and there was a lot of experience there. But the damning stat is that we had 11 goal chances and we got one. If you miss that many goal chances you will not win. But it is what it is, and we have to move on. But the worst thing out of it is that Ultan Harney is out now for a number of weeks and that’s a terrible pity because he was just right after a long injury.

So are you happy with your panel a couple of weeks away from the semi-final?

The whole idea about the panel for the championship this year was to get a look at the juniors in a number of games but that’s not an option now. We have to be realistic about it and some lads did not perform against Mayo and there are a number who will have to go back to their clubs now and wait for another year to see if they can come again. I will be sitting down with the selectors over the next couple of days and we will be reducing the panel to 30.

What’s the situation with the U-20’s on the senior panel?

We had four players last night (junior game) from the U-20’s James Fetherstone, Ciaran Lennon, Aidan Dowd and Liam Cregg. They are all training with the U-20’s since the league ended. The plan is that they stay with the U-20’s and we think that is the right thing to do.

Does that mean that Ciaran Lennon will not be playing in the Connacht semi-final?

Yes. Almost certainly he will not be playing. Ciaran’s form has complicated matters to be honest. He played 8 national league games and played well in them all. Even when he came on in the junior game he made a big difference
So why not pick him for the Connacht semi-final. Surely we have to put out our best team in the senior championship, and he is one of our best senior players?
In fairness to Shane (Curran), if we take three of four of their best players and play them in the Leitrim match how would he feel? The U-20’s Connacht final the curtain-raiser to the Connacht senior final so Roscommon could be in that game. If Roscommon are not in that game then the situation is resolved. Look, we will monitor the situation as it evolves. My sense and Shane’s sense is that he should play with the U-20’s.

So you are going to have to find a full-forward?

Yes we are. But we have a lot of players on the senior panel who should be putting their hand up for that position now. Lads like Enda Smith and Shane Killoran for example and there are two or three more that we could play there as well. But I have to say that training is going superbly well. The lads couldn’t be doing any more to be honest. We have a few challenge games coming up so we will see who steps up now. Other lads like Cathal Cregg and Conor Daly are also there so we have plenty of options. Niall Daly is out for the Leitrim game and you can’t get too hung up about injuries. It’s part of the job. I am happy that we have about 24 players of an even enough standard at the moment.

Galway and Mayo will play in one of the biggest games in Connacht for many years on Sunday- what’s your view?

It’s a massive game. Galway are the form team but Mayo are an incredible team. This Mayo team are the best team never to win an All-Ireland that’s for sure. Indeed that story may not be over yet. Every year we think they are gone they come roaring back. My sense is that any team who lose their two best players are bound to struggle. Lee Keegan is out and Cillian O’Connor is very doubtful. It is hard to see where they can win it from but this Mayo team have proved that they are so resilient. I must say I can’t wait to go to it and see it. But the great thing about this match is that it is a throwback to the past with a full house of 30,000 at a provincial venue. There is something magical about that. That might happen a bit more this year with the advent of the Super 8 That’s what I am looking forward to. Those days in McHale Park and Hyde Park years ago when the place was jammed were very special and I think we might be going back to that which is great.

So you are happy with the way preparations are going- taking account of that poor result for the junior team
Yeah and we have to gear our training now for the Connacht semi-final and then be spot on for the Connacht final. It’s very simple. We have to win two championship games and then the whole season opens up for us after that. If we can do that and get into the Super 8 then we have had a great season.

You had some interesting things to say about the problems with finances and running a team at the top level earlier in the year. How is all that panning out?

The facts are that this county is a monstrous challenge. It’s down to simple mathematics. The amount of money that’s coming in is not enough to cover what’s going out to pay for the game at all levels. I would say Roscommon has the smallest budget of any county in the top two divisions. But that’s where we’re at and we have to accept it. We are going into Division 1 next year and hopefully we will have a good summer this year but we simply cannot compete in terms if funding. The whole financial model of the GAA will have to change. Croke Park are committing to change it, but that will be a slow burner and could take 10 years. My view would be that if Croke Park want counties to be operating on a level playing field they could, for instance, pay the mileage and catering costs of every county in the country. That would give us the space here in Roscommon to operate without our hands tied behind our back. It would cost the GAA 8 to 10 million for the whole country. It would take people out of the hardship of trying to operate year in year out. To be honest I don’t know how they operate in Roscommon. It’s a credit to them. We have a couple of great sponsors but it is very tough. We have 26 players in Dublin. Every time we bring them down the country for a training session it costs 1,000 Euro for taxis alone. Just think about that. Club Rossie are doing a great job but the income is not there and that’s the reality.

Finally, you have a feeling that this will be a huge year for the GAA

I do. There is massive change all coming together. We have the new club calendar which is very controversial as we have seen. We have the new grades at U-17 and U-20. The Super 8 and the round robin hurling are n the way too. We have seen the tight schedule for the league and how it was affected by the weather. This will be a year of firsts in the GAA and they are all coming together like a big wave. I think it could be incredibly exciting. In our own game if the Super 8 falls right in terms of results you could have situation where Roscommon are at home to Mayo or Dublin or Tyrone and that would be incredible. If a team won in Croke Park on match day one and were at home in match day two you could be looking at an All-Ireland semi-final. It’s very exciting . It would be massive if we were involved and that’s the aim. All the changes look very positive but of course it could go the other way too but we have to see how it goes to be honest.

From The Roscommon People

Sean Keegan- One of the Great Characters

Sean Keegan
There was widespread sorrow in the Creggs area and throughout out the county and the region at news of the death of one of the county’s great characters Sean Keegan. Mr Keegan who was in his late 80’s passed away at his home at Rushfield Creggs following a short illness.
A former employee of Roscommon Post Office, Sean was affectionally known as “Bags” and was one of the best known personalities in the area over many decades. His name will always be associated with Creggs GAA club and he played for the club in five different decades, a fact that he often quoted!!
Sean usually played in goal and was never short of words of ‘encouragement’ for his own defence, the opposition attackers and for the referee too! He was a Creggs GAA official for many years and his contributions to meetings were always good humoured and memorable. You always knew when Sean was at a game as well as he was never slow to voice his opinion!
His work as a postman brought him into contact with many members of the public every day and he was a brilliant conversationalist with many great stories to tell. The last time I met Sean was in Main Street in Roscommon a few months ago and he recited three monologues to me and, as was always the case, you walked away from Sean with a smile on your face. Another great character from the area has gone to his eternal reward but he left many great memories behind him. Some of the stories associated with Sean will be retold for many years to come and with great affection too.
It was fantastic that he lived to see his beloved Creggs lift the Roscommon Junior title in 2016 after 33 years and there was no prouder man when the cup came back to Creggs after that memorable win on that Sunday night than Sean Keegan.
Sean is survived by his wife Mary, daughters Pauline, Patricia, Eileen, Marie, Anne, Sheila and Jenny and by sons James and Gerry, brother Pat and by 19 grandchildren and many in laws cousins and other family members and a huge circle of friends.
The huge crowds that attended the removal and requiem mass and burial were a measure of the esteem in which Sean was held . May he rest in peace. It was a pleasure to have known him.

(From The Roscommon People)

St Patrick’s Day Memories

St Patrick’s Day- Memories

Growing up in Roscommon Town St Patrick’s Day was always different to most other county towns in Ireland as our annual parade did not take place until Easter Sunday.
My earliest memories were of going to morning mass. Most of the adults and particularly the men were wearing the shamrock. Some of the shamrock was nice and neat on the lapels of the jackets but some people had big lumps of greenery which looked comical. Other people wore little badges with the tri-colour on. The priest always said mass in Irish too we hadn’t a clue what he was saying for the most part but we could say the ‘Our Father’ in Irish.
Many years ago I know my late father used to go to the Railway Cup finals in Croke Park. It is very hard to explain to a young GAA fan now that big crowds used to attend the Interprovincial finals on our national holiday. But as the interest in the ‘Railway Cup’ waned, the GAA replaced the St Patrick’s Day programme with the club finals in hurling ad football and it was a great idea. Now there are 25 to 40 thousand people there every St Patrick’s Day.
Indeed I have spent our national holiday in Croker at least 10 times over the years. Clann na nGael fans won’t need me to remind them that they were there four years in a row in the late 80’s and early 90’s and never won a title unfortunately. St Brigid’s were there twice and won memorably in 2013. But club finals day is a great day out for any GAA fan.
In my Shannonside days I used to cover St Patrick’s Day parades in local towns like Boyle, Ballaghaderreen, Carrick on Shannon, and Cloonfad among others. The effort that the local communities put into these parades never ceases to amaze me, and it continues to this day. Although I have to admit that my memories were of St Patrick’s Day being almost always cold and wet and not very nice weather wise. It didn’t matter to local people who turned out in force regardless of the conditions.
I know that there have been so many changes in the fabric of Irish society over the years but St Patricks Day used to be great fun in pubs and bars throughout the country, There was always an effort to put on Irish music and even in recent years the rock and dance music would be of the Irish variety. However there has been a such a change in the way Irish people socialise, and not all of it for the better either. However this year St Patrick’s Day falls on Saturday and hopefully local towns and villages will be busy.
There is one thing that I will have to do some of these years and that is to attend the big parade in Dublin. I have never been at it and it looks a spectacular event. It’s on the bucket list.
I have often felt that people outside of Ireland celebrate St Patrick’s Day with more gusto than we do here. I was in San Fransisco for the celebrations one year and it was probably the most enjoyable one I can remember. Literally everyone was Irish for the day. Anyone who has been to New York on our national holiday say that the city comes alive.
That our Taoiseach can go to Washington and have a private meeting with the American President on St Patrick’s Day is a sign of just how important the Irish connection is viewed. However one wonders what Donald Trump makes of it all!
We have a lot to be proud of in this little country of ours. I know we have many problems too but despite everything that has happened especially in recent years there is a basic decency in most Irish people and our influence has reached far and wide, Just look at the community spirit that we saw during the recent storms. We may need to stick together more than ever in the coming years as the effects of Brexit are felt but Irish people are resilient and we will come through it.
Enjoy the day, It’s good to be Irish!

(From The Roscommon People)

Politics Will Scupper National Development Plan

National Development Plan

“The new Strategy will enable us to achieve a more balanced regional development. It is a 20-year strategy designed to enable every place in the country to reach its potential, no matter what its size or what its location. It recognises that the various regions of the country have different roles to play. It seeks to organise and co-ordinate these roles in a complementary, win-win way that provides an opportunity for all concerned. It is about making regions competitive according to their strengths. It is about ensuring a high quality urban environment, as well as vibrant rural areas”
Fine words indeed, and noble aspirations too. From a speech in Sligo last week? No, it was then Taoiseach Bertie Ahearn speaking at the launch of the National Spatial Strategy in Dublin in the 5th September 2001. Re-hashing the past is not going to serve any positive purpose 17 years on but that plan which was going to solve all the ills of rural Ireland lasted about 18 months until Charlie McCreevy’s decentralisation plan ensured that it went into the bin.
I have absolutely no doubt that the National Development Plan unveiled last week in Sligo was done with the best of intentions and there are some great things in it for sure. But our history of delivering on these plans is not good, not good at all.
Projects like the N4 from Longford to Mullingar (did I hear, Longford to Ballaghaderreen?), money for Knock Airport, the delivery of the National Broadand Plan, investment in roads and educational facilities will certainly help rural Ireland.
However if you drill down into the figures a little there are worrying realities. We were told last week that there was one billion Euro being set aside for towns and villages with a population of less than 10,000 people. If we are to assume that there are at least 2,000 such towns and villages around the country (and that’s a very conservative figure) it works out at about 33,000 Euro per village and town per year over 20 years. It’s welcome but it’s not exactly ground breaking stuff.
The problems that we in Roscommon (and many other rural areas) have is that our young people from age 18 to 40 are gone. Whether it’s to college or to work very few are left because there is nothing to keep them here. Young people are the life blood of any community for it to survive. We should be able to offer at least some of them a reason to stay and work and live in our community. If things remain the same as they are at the moment in 25 years’ time when my generation are old and beginning to pass on, what will be left? I have four daughters and the likelihood of any of them ever living and working in Roscommon is remote.
The small towns and villages of rural Ireland are dying and that’s not an exaggeration. At a recent county board meeting one of the items on the agenda was “amaglamations”. It means that there are GAA clubs who simply cannot field underage teams at the moment and are joining with neighbouring clubs to survive. In 10 years’ time the same will be happening to the senior teams if we didn’t do something fast.
I am not so naïve to think that the next Facebook or Google will be situated in Roscommon Town or Castlerea or Boyle, but rural areas like ours need positive discrimination in our favour when it comes to development.
On his TV show recently Matt Cooper exclaimed “Sure the recession is over and the boom is back, the pubs are full of people spending money like there’s no tomorrow”. I’d like to take Matt on a tour of Roscommon town or indeed any other town in the county any day or night during the week to see what’s going on in reality. It’s a mindset that infuriates people in rural areas.
What general happens in this country is that politics always gets in the way. No matters what Ministers and TD’s say the most important thing for them is to get re-elected. Long term planning goes out the window and sectional interests take over. It has happened time after time after time in this country and we have not learned the lessons of the past. Maybe this time will be different but I wouldn’t be holding my breath.
So while I have no doubt that the National Development Plan that will bring us up to the year 2040 is well intentioned and the aims are achievable and it will try to benefit everyone I remain to be convinced that it can be delivered. I apologise for my scepticism but history shows that it is it is well founded.

(Roscommon People)

Allianz NFL League Division 2- At A Glance

Manager: Andy McEntee
Players to Watch: Donal Keogan, Graham Reilly, Donal Lenihan.
Prospects: Andy McEntee is targeting promotion to Division One and a good run in Leinster in 2018. They have flattered to deceive in recent years. First game against Roscommon is vital.
V Roscommon: Sunday 28th January at 2.30pm at Dr Hyde Park.
Odds to be promoted: 2/1.

Manager: Liam Kearins
Players to Watch: Conor Sweeney, Michael Quinlivan, Stephen O’Brien
Prospects: Could be the dark horses in this Division. If Liam Kearins can get close to his best team on the field they are a match for anyone.
V Roscommon: Sunday 4th February at Semple Stadium Thurles.
Odds to be promoted: 3/1

Manager: Eamon Burns
Players to Watch: Connaire Harrison, Kevin McKernan, Caoileann Mooney.
Prospects: Have improved over the past 12 months. Well capable of holding their own in this Division.
V Roscommon: Sunday 11th February at Dr Hyde Park at 2pm.
Odds to be promoted: 5/2

Manager: Pete McGrath
Players to Watch: Ross Nally, Jim McEneaney, Andy McDonnell.
Prospects: Louth have been improving and with the wily old Pete McGrath in charge they will be well organised. Could struggle in this company though.
V Roscommon: Sunday 25th February in Drogheda at 2pm
Odds to be promoted: 7/1.

Manager: Colm Collins
Players to Watch: Keelan Sexton, David Tubridy, Gary Brennan.
Prospects: They have been progressing nicely under Colm Collins and could prove dangerous opponents especially in Ennis. Mid table finish would be a good result for them.
V Roscommon Sunday March 4th in Ennis at 2pm
Odds to be promoted: 4/1.

Manager: Mattie McGleenan
Players to Watch: Gearoid McKiernan, Cian Mackey, Killian Clarke.
Prospects: Having been in Division one last year there will be expectations in the county that they can go up again. Looks a tall order, and will do well to remain in the top half of the table.
V Roscommon: Sunday 18th March at Dr Hyde Park at 2pm
Odds to be promoted: 3/1.

Manager: Ronan McCarthy
Players to Watch: Sean Powter, Paul Kerrigan, Luke Connolly.
Prospects: There is renewed optimism in Cork under their new manager Ronan McCarthy. Cork have won 10 Munster U-21 titles since 2004. There has to be loads of talent in the county and are justifiable favourites for promotion.
V Roscommon Sunday 25th March at Dr Hyde Park at 3pm.
Odds to be promoted: 4/6.

From The Roscommon People

Des Whyte RIP A Great Roscommon Man

Roscommon football lost one of it’s greatest fans and one of it’s most unsung heroes this week with the passing of Des Whyte. Des was one of the most passionate Roscommon football men I ever met. He will be known as the man who sponsored Roscommon when they won the minor title in 2006 and again when they won the Connacht senior title in 2010 but Des Whyte did so much other work on behalf of the GAA in the county that was never publisised or heard about. The number of players he looked after with regard to jobs and finances, the number meals he paid for, and the number of contacts that he was able to provide for Roscommon GAA will never be known or quantified.
He had very strong opinions and was never afraid to vent them either. He rang me on a regular basis to comment on whatever the controversy was at the time. Indeed regular readers of this newspaper over the years will know that he ‘wrote’ in many a letter (dictated to me over the phone) about various topics always to do with the GAA.
Not a lot of people know that Des Whyte was one of the main people involved in the development of the St Brigid’s GAA club in Dublin which is now one of the biggest in the capital. But was always an Oran man through and through and he loved the Oran GAA club dearly right to the end. His highly successful Sierra Communications company in Dublin had a fleet of primrose and blue vans which were instantly recognisable. He was also a great man for the greyhounds and he enjoyed some great successes over the years.
In the past few years although he was incapacitated he went to many games and I enjoyed many great nights in his company in the pub and out at his house. Even though he was ill he loved the craic and banter. There were times when you wouldn’t see eye to eye with Des but the rows never lasted too long. In fact you were not considered a friend unless you had some sort of a row with him over the years! He had an infectious laugh that would win anyone around. I enjoyed being in his company to the very end.
One of the fondest memories was the night that Roscommon came back with the Tom Markham Cup in 2006. I was involved in a pub in Church Street at that stage and Des was there that night. I thought that his heart would burst out of his chest he was so proud. It was a very, very long night!!
He was a great Roscommon man and I and many more will miss him. He was back among his own in Oran this week, where he was happiest. They don’t make too many like Des Whyte anymore. To Elliot, Kellie, Ciara and all his family members I extend my deepest sympathy. May he rest in peace.

From The Roscommon People

The Late Paddy Mulvey- A Legend

I wouldn’t have been a personal friend of Paddy Mulvey’s as he was from a different generation to me, but he was a man that I knew from my earliest days in Roscommon GAA, whether it was at underage matches and then later, at meetings and matches and anything else that was going on. He was an incredible club man. Yes he loved his county and he was a great Roscommon man, but he was happiest when he was in Croghan or around the county with Shannon Gaels teams, underage or senior, or at a Scor event.
He was the most passionate GAA man I ever met at a club game. During the summer when the day was fine I always remember Paddy would hang his suit jacket on a fence post close to the side line and he would parade up and down the line encouraging the players and ‘advising’ the referee. When the game was over it was over, and Paddy would always be gracious in defeat. It was always on to the next meeting, the next match, the next Scor event.
If you wanted to know the meaning of the term “life-long GAA man” it was probably invented with Paddy Mulvey in mind. He was a club man through and through. He was about as far away from the SKY TV deal and from the corporate GAA as one could get. He gave his life to the GAA and never got one thing in return, and he didn’t want anything either.
Paddy Mulvey was a grass roots man and one of the greatest that the association has ever had. I am so glad that his efforts were recognised when he got a Presidents’ award a few years ago. It is people like Paddy Mulvey that has made the GAA the organisation it is today. The crowds at his removal and funeral showed just how much people respected and liked Paddy Mulvey. It was a pleasure to have known him. To his family I extend my deepest sympathy. They certainly don’t make them like Paddy Mulvey anymore. A dheis De go raibh a anam dilis.

Roscommon People Atricle

Doreen Conlon RIP

There was widespread shock and sadness in the Roscommon Town area and throughout the county in the days before Christmas at news of the sudden and untimely death of one of the areas’ best known and highly respected figures, Doreen Conlon. Doreen passed away following a short illness at University Hospital in Galway.
Aged in her 60’s Doreen Conlon was a tireless worker on behalf of many community groups and charities all her life. Her easy going demeanour and sense of fun endeared her to countless tens of thousands of people over the years as she got on with her work without fuss, never seeking praise or gratitude.
Doreen Conlon was super company and a joke or quick witted remark was never far away regardless of the situation. An hour or two spent in her company was a tonic whenever it happened. Her funeral was one of the biggest seen in the county for many years as people travelled from far and wide to pay tribute to her and her family. It was a measure of the esteem that she was held in by so many people and the numbers that Doreen had helped throughout her life.
She was involved with so many different organisations and groups over the years that there is a danger that one or two would be left out if I started to mention names. The number of different guards of honour seen at her removal, requiem mass, and burial were a testament to the life and times of this remarkable woman.
Her loss to the community will be severely felt, but it pales into insignificance when compared to the loss suffered by her loving family. She is survived by husband Jim and children Collette, Peter, Michelle Padraig, Paul, Claire and Emily, brothers, sisters, grandchildren other family members and a huge circle of friends colleagues and neighbours.
May her kind and generous soul rest in peace.

(Roscommon People)

Highs and Lows of 2017 in Roscommon Sport

Five Highs and Lows in Roscommon Sport in 2017


• Winning the Connacht SFC title. Roscommon hadn’t beaten Galway or Mayo in the championship since 2001 and the league campaign did not auger too well for the championship. But Kevin McStay and his players knew different. After Galway had beaten Mayo they were super-confident that they would retain the Nestor Cup at Pearses Stadium. But Roscommon produced one of the performances of the year to sweep past The Tribesmen ad win by an emphatic nine points. The goals from Cian Connolly and Brian Stack were memorable as were the celebrations! What’s seldom is wonderful. It was a mighty day.
• Padraig Pearses winning the Roscommon SHC title: After a period of almost total dominance from Four Roads, the eternal bridesmaids Pearses, made it to the altar themselves as they defeated Four Roads in a thrilling final that featured one of the all-time great displays from 19 year old Daniel Glynn. It was a day that those from Taughmaconnell and Moore will never forget. First title in 30 years and well worth the wait.
• Roscommon U-17 footballers defeat Kerry in All Ireland semi-final: This was one of the finest displays from a Roscommon underage team that we have seen since 2006. Liam Tully’s men played some fantastic stuff to knock Kerry out. It may not have worked out in the final against Tyrone, but this showed what could be done against the top teams.
• Michael Glavey’s win the Connacht IFC title: Not the first Connacht club title to be won by a Roscommon club, but to win it beating the Mayo and Galway champions was a great achievement.. But not only that, but to win it playing some wonderful attacking and positive football was a pleasure to behold.
• Ballymoe FC win the Roscommon and District League Premier Division in dramatic circumstances: It all went down to the final minutes of the final game of the season. The smart money was on Castlerea Celtic to lift the title but Ballymoe snatched it with an injury time goal to pip their neighbours. It doesn’t get any closer than that.


• Roscommon v Mayo All Ireland FC quarter-final replay: Having drawn with Mayo the previous week, tens of thousands of Roscommon followers flocked to Croker to see their heroes complete the job. But Mayo had other ideas. Not only did they win but they put Roscommon back in their box with an awesome display. There was not a lot that could be said afterwards. But it was a very disappointing day.
• Roscommon U-16 footballers losing two finals: Roscommon had a marvellous U-16 team in 2017 and expectations will be high for the 2018 U-17 championship, and rightly so too. But having coasted into two finals the Ted Webb Cup and Fr Manning Cup, they were defeated in both conceding a number of crucial goals in the process. I have no doubt that will be sorted out for 2018 as this is a very good Roscommon team.
• Roscommon Hurlers: It was not a good year for Roscommon hurlers in league or championship. Ciaran Comerford is the new man at the helm and he will have a tough job. The goal should be to gain promotion in the league and to copper-fasten Roscommon’s place in the Christy Ring Cup. It will not be an easy task.
• Roscommon Ladies Footballers: After a league campaign that started very promisingly, the team ran out of steam towards the end and the championship was a disappointment. Missing a number of players and injuries to others were crucial for Michael Finneran’s side. There is a new impetus now in the ladies football game in Roscommon since their recent launch and I would be very confident of success in 2018.
• Roscommon’s NFL League Division One campaign: With memories of a tremendous 2016 campaign in our minds the 2017 campaign turned out to be a bit of a disaster for Roscommon. The defeats against Tyrone, Kerry and Donegal were narrow and probably unlucky, but the heavy losses in Mayo, Monaghan and in Croke Park were painful We didn’t know it then but the win against Cavan gave the team a great lift for later in the year. I am confident that Roscommon will be there or thereabouts in the league in 2018. There will be competitive games but division two is very winnable.

Kevin McStay Looks To 2018

Promotion from the National Football League Division Two, to make a huge effort to retain the Connacht Senior Football Championship, and to qualify for the Super 8 series. Those are the priorities for the Roscommon senior football team for 2018 according to their manager Kevin McStay.
The new look panel, tightening financial parameters, the new fixture list and many other topics came up during a comprehensive account of where the team is with 2017 coming to an end and a very busy 2018 about to begin. The return of many players who were absent last year, new faces on the panel, a new training base in Kiltoom, and the fact that Kevin McStay will also be the Roscommon Junior Football team manager in 2018 are just some of the main points that were covered.
With regard to the panel, Kevin said “There is a pre-season panel of 44. A total of 53 were considered but some lads just couldn’t commit for one reason or another, and one of the biggest disappointments is that Neil Collins will not be able to join us. He started a new job in the USA and I can tell you he is heartbroken that he cannot do it (commit) but he has to forge ahead with his career. I haven’t given up hope about him being back at some stage though”
“That 44 will be reduced to 32 in Mid-January and that will be the national league panel. Out of that will come the championship panel later on. With regard to breakthrough players it is very unlikely that we will have another Brian Stack or Caoileann Fitzmaurice because the team is young anyway and there are not any gaps in terms of age. It will take young players a year or two, or even three to break on to the senior team now because of the work that needs to be done”
“With regard to injuries there is good news about Ultan Harney. We got a very positive scan (back injury) this week and we are upbeat about that. He is back in training. He is looking at mid-January to return, but I am looking at mid-February because we do not want him to get injured again. Cathal Compton and Fergal Lennon are back in full training. Any other injuries we have are very minor”
“Younger players who have come on to the panel and whom we have been very impressed with are Tadgh McKenna, Ciaran Lennon, Ross Timothy and Finbar Cregg. A lot of the players who had played all our games last year were given an extra month off but all of them are back now, Brian Stack is a special case and we are not going to see him until the middle of the league campaign. He is also involved with DCU in the Sigerson”
“Seanie McDermott has committed for another year but his new business is going well and we will have to see if he is able to commit. He has his living to look after so we will see what happens there. The number of third level committed players has reduced significantly. It was 14 or 15 last year, it’s only 7 this year which is positive and manageable. Of course we are without our Michael Glavey’s players as well”
Kevin says that the players who were not on the panel last year and who came back into the fold this year again are making a huge effort. “Peter Domican is back, Cathal and Finbar Cregg and Ronan, Conor and Niall Daly are back and we are really pleased with their effort, attitude and energy. I am really pleased with their attitude but the real test will come when we pick our first serious team and then we will know whether they are here for the long haul, but it’s all very positive so far. We are really pleased with the early effort and we think we are a good bit ahead of where we were at this time last year. I also want to mention Padraig Kelly who played against Offaly in a challenge game the other night and scored 2-2 which is brilliant for him and it is great to see lads putting in an effort and putting their hands up”
Gone from last years’ panel are Cian Connolly, Brian Murtagh, Dave Rooney, Thomas Corcoran and Darren O’Malley for various reasons.
Roscommon have not taken part in the Connacht Junior Football championship for the past number of years but that will change in 2018 and Kevin McStay himself will be the team manager! He explained his reasoning behind his decision to play in the junior competition this year. “It will be very important in terms of the development side of the panel and we have agreed with the county board how we are going to go about it. We are going to put a big effort into it and try to produce a decent team in the knowledge that there has to be a place for players to develop. The junior championship is played May to July so it is played off very quickly and we will have a real go at that”
The Roscommon senior backroom team will be much the same as last year but more of an emphasis will be put on nutrition this coming year’ “We made a new appointment , Tom Coleman, who will look after the nutrition side of things and we are very happy with that. I am hoping that Ronan Rogers can continue with our performance analysis but everyone else is still in place”
It is a really busy time for the team as Kevin explained. “We have three challenge games in December, we have six games in January and four in February so it’s a mad schedule but I say ‘mad’ in a nice way. The players will love it but for managers it’s very tough. Any schedule we (managers) had in years gone by is gone out the window. Basically it’s a game every single week and if any player misses out on pre-season then they are in big trouble”
The controversial “month for the clubs” in April will be respected by Kevin and his backroom team” We have agreed that the players will return to their clubs in April for a month if we are not in the league final. If we are in the final it will be three weeks. I understand that two rounds of the club championship will be played in April along with at least one league game”
There was a long discussion about finance at the county convention and budgets are central to any discussion about the senior team and preparations “Finance is the biggest and most contentious issue that I have in this job. We have agreed and signed off on our budgets for the year with the county board and you will have seen that there was a big reduction in costs from 2016 to 2017 and the costs will be down again in 2018”
“Everyone agrees that budgets must be cut, but it presents the biggest problem that we have as a management. On the one hand the county board and everyone else in the county is pushing for Roscommon to be a force. But if you want to be a top 8 team then you have to have resources. I will say it again this year. We do not own a bulb or a blade of grass to train on and it is a huge issue. Put simply, we have nowhere to train. Now in fairness to the Chairman Seamus Sweeney and the St Brigid’s club, we have entered an agreement that we will be able to train in Kilttom for the next three years and that’s signed off and done, and we are thrilled about that. We had to do something”
“But overall the financial situation is dire and we are only a small county and the situation is only going to get worse because we simply do not have the resources that the bigger counties have. I am predicting a major crisis in the GAA in the future because the smaller counties like Roscommon are simply going to run out of resources. Unless they completely change the financial model of the GAA then I cannot see the smaller counties being able to compete or survive”
Then we came to the objectives for the year ahead. “We did a lot of work last year on trying to develop a healthy culture within the group based on energy, enthusiasm and honesty we have more work to do on that score and we will do that. We have to to do far more work on strength and conditioning. We have to get bigger and stronger, we have to improve our tackling, we have to improve our kick outs, and improve at midfield. We have plenty of areas to improve but we are very close now to building a very strong panel. When you add the players that have come back, to the players that were blooded last year we have are building a very formidable group”
“My objectives are that at the end of the league we will have a very strong championship match day 24. The match day 24 will be very hard to get into this year and that’s for sure. There will be major competition for places this year. We have a lot of very good players on the panel. We want to close the gap further on Galway and Mayo and both of them are in division one. We need to build on what we have done in 2017. We feel we can definitely compete with Galway and we need to bridge the gap to Mayo. That gap is going on for far too long and we need to be competitive with them. So promotion from division two in the league, we go flat out to retain our Connacht championship and then qualify for the Super 8 one way or the other. Those are our goals”
“With regard to the year ahead, if we can beat Meath and Tipperary in the league, and Leitrim in the championship we will be well on our way to having a good 2018. If we win those three games everything else will look after itself. We want to hit the ground running in the early part of the year this time because last years’ league campaign was very difficult and we have the panel to tackle that this time” he concluded.

(From The Roscommon People)

« Older posts Newer posts »

© 2024 Seamus Duke Media

Theme by Anders NorénUp ↑