herald

Thursday 8 December 2016

SLIGO men SEND ROScommon HOMEWARD TO THINK AGAIN

ONLY a handful predicted what unfolded last weekend in Sligo. They say sport demands a strong positive attitude in everything you do, that attitude is contagious and you should always wonder if your attitude is worth catching.

If that is true, and I believe it is, then Sligo were never going to be beaten.

In the end it was just four points, but everybody knows it should have been twice that.

Sligo were the 33rd and last team to enter the football championship and had to endure an 11-week break since their last competitive game.

ADVANTAGE

Roscommon had the advantage with an extra League game (the Division 2 final) and a prelim against London. But it never counted.

There are of course lots of ifs and buts, the old wouldas and shouldas in most championship games but the trend of this one was the easy enough to discern: Sligo were quicker to the ball, had greater physical commitment and had a nice bit of edge to their game.

It proved too much for Roscommon and they just never really got going.

It was my first time to have a really good look at the new and emerging Sligo players - we know about Mark Brehony, David Kelly, Brendan Egan, Ross Donovan and the more experienced brigade at this stage.

Two players in particular impressed me: their goalkeeper Aidan Devaney and full-back Kevin McDonnell.

Devaney not only wins the 'Goalkeeper of the Week' award, he also wins best beard - William Wallace would be proud of the flaming hairdo.

But the boy can keep goal too; thanks to the all-seeing eyes of those in Twitter Land, I am reliably informed this is his fifth championship appearance and he has yet to empty his nets of the ball. Outstanding.

His second half save from Donie Smith's rocket was superb but it was really all about his kickouts to his (they had a big height disadvantage) midfield pairing.

IMPORTANT

Once again, Devaney proved how important kickouts are and why a goalkeeper must master this area of the game.

Just in front of him I watched McDonnell, Sligo's young full-back, storm into the game and improve as every minute ticked by.

His positional sense was excellent but his skill was obvious also. Nice evasion moves as he progressed out of the defence with the ball, sharp and accurate hand passing and plenty of vision when in position. It was good stuff for sure.

Now, Sligo will have to play a massive Connacht final because if they don't they will be torched by Mayo.

And Roscommon?

They have an even greater challenge if they are to restore their reputations in a difficult Qualifier Series.

If they fail that challenge, it will witness the break-up of their squad and management. It really is as simple as that.

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