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Friday 9 December 2016

Roscommon need to work on their defensive system

IN the aftermath of Armagh's Ulster championship game with Cavan last summer, when the Orchard County were hit with what they deemed to be unfair suspensions for their part in a pre-match melee, then manager Paul Grimley and his team enforced a widespread media ban that required a brokering deal from Croke Park to help thaw the freeze.

Last weekend following their morale-boosting victory over the same opposition, Roscommon manager John Evans launched a staunch defence of his team across a number of media platforms, believing that the win had silenced the critics that had circled in the aftermath of their Connacht semi-final loss to Sligo.

MASSIVE

Posting 3-17 was certainly a massive fill-up for the Rossies and is a fair reflection of the potency they offer in attack. But the concern I have as they head to Brewster Park for their third round qualifier game with Fermanagh, is that the feel-good factor and proving critics wrong agenda could blindside the team, when they should instead be focusing on the defensive frailties that Cavan managed to expose a number of times last Saturday evening.

Throughout the first-half when Cavan had the full complement (prior to Tomás Corr's dismissal), despite almost owning the ball, Roscommon's defensive cordon failed to sweep back around their full-back line thus leaving plenty of space for Cavan to play around in. The concept of bringing half-forwards back the field is to have them put pressure on the ball-carriers, and to restrict the time and space when the opposition are in possession.

Far too often Roscommon had numbers back, but no pressure on the ball, and Cavan were able to pick holes and cause problems, despite the fact that their full-forward line lacked the cutting edge that Ultan Harney offered at the other end of the field.

The fact that the feed from their underage success is starting to blossom in senior shirts demonstrates the potential that exists in the group, but as the number of contenders continues to dwindle en-route to the Bank Holiday weekend in August, their defensive system needs some serious fine tuning if they hope to follow through on their manager's vision of bringing Roscommon football to the top of the pile.

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