25 Jun 2022

Nobody to blame but ourselves says Kevin as O'Donnell looks ahead


Nobody to blame but ourselves says Kevin as O'Donnell looks ahead

The contrast between winning and losing was never starker as Leitrim were left wondering what went wrong and Roscommon were planning ahead.

The aftermath of Sunday's Connacht Championship clash saw Roscommon joint manager Fergal O'Donnell down-play the margin of victory while Leitrim's Kevin Conlan was left to wonder what went wrong.

In fairness to the Dromahair man, Kevin didn't duck the questions as he told the Observer “It is very hard to take, we didn’t really perform in patches of the game that cost us. I thought we started well and I thought going into the second quarter of the game, we just let them get on top.

“We just didn’t bring the intensity we needed to keep that gap. We let them get ahead but we were still confident at halftime that if we got things right, we’d be competitive. Calling a spade a spade, we lost our shape especially when we went a man down, it is no excuse. It is just hard to take but I don’t think there is that much between the teams.

“I wouldn’t fault anyone but ourselves, that is the hardest thing to take,” stressed Kevin.

O’Donnell was similarly down-beat when assessing Roscommon's win - “The scoreboard flatters us really. They had two men sent off and we racked up a lot of scores. I though in the first half, we went 0-5 to 0-1 up and played well but we were patchy at times.

“We couldn’t get it for the full 70 but we were happy to get the win. If you told me beforehand we would score 1-21 we’d be very happy with that. There are a lot of things to work on. There were a lot of wides and one or two goal chances we could have taken and we got blocked down a few times.

“It wasn’t the perfect performance today so it’s an ideal way to go into the semi. There were lots of mistakes, there were a lot of unforced turnovers, you don’t mind turning over the ball when there is pressure but there were a few times when we were coming out and gave the ball away,” said the Roscommon joint manager.

While O'Donnell can look forward to a Semi-Final with Sligo, Leitrim face the Qualifiers again and Conlan stresses that the Green & Gold will have to battle back from last Sunday's disappointment.

“To be honest, the qualifiers never came into my head, we were just focused on this game. But if we had to win this game, we’d be regrouping and resetting. It is very disappointing but we have no choice.

“There is a lot of character in that dressing room, we’re constantly trying to improve ourselves. It is tough but we have no choice, the county is depending on us to regroup and to up the standards and that is what we will do.”

Kevin agreed that Leitrim's cause was not helped by the loss of captain Gary Reynolds but admitted that Roscommon were on a different level - “Losing Gary was massive, still not an excuse but he is a leader and you need everything to go your way.

“It doesn’t justify some of the little errors we made and those errors add up, especially at this level. Roscommon punished us, they were shooting on sight and they were kicking some good scores but realistically, the pressure needs to be put on all over the pitch to stop that, it is not just the man blocking the shot, it is out the field. The tiny margins add up at the end of the game and that is why they are on top.”

Man of the match Fintan Cregg was happy with Roscommon’s victory - “We’re happy enough, any day you come down to Leitrim and come down with a five, six, seven point win, whatever it was, I thought it was a good win to be quite honest.

“We didn’t really play too well in New York but we got back and we regrouped. We trained hard and got our minds focused on today. Everyone wanted to put in a good performance today and thanks be to god the majority of the lads did. It’s a good result.

“We had the same sort of ideas going into the New York game but things just didn’t go right for us on the day. We were lucky enough we came out with a one point but we knew today we had to up our game if we wanted to get a good win against Leitrim.”

However, Fintan stressed there was room for improvement for Roscommon - “We missed a lot of frees, 45s, we got a lot of stuff wrong today. We dropped a lot of ball into the goalies hands, giving ball in the wrong position.

“There is a lot to improve on for Sligo and it’s just as well we have I suppose. We knew they were going to play a sweeper. The forwards, there was a bit of pressure up front, it was seven on six at stages but we worked hard up front and it paid off in the finish.”

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