herald

Wednesday 22 August 2018

Lack of self belief has some counties beaten before the throw-in: Tom

THE TWO TOMMYS: Tommy Lyons greets Tommy Carr before the start of their 2004 All-Ireland SFC meeting in Croke Park. Photo: SPORTSFILE
THE TWO TOMMYS: Tommy Lyons greets Tommy Carr before the start of their 2004 All-Ireland SFC meeting in Croke Park. Photo: SPORTSFILE

It was another August Bank Holiday weekend, 14 years ago, when Dublin and Roscommon last squared up in championship combat.

That round four qualifier in Croke Park brought together a Dublin team still struggling to banish the negative vibes of an early-summer meltdown against Westmeath and a Roscommon side wounded by a meek ten-point defeat to Mayo in the Connacht final.

The battle of the two Tommys - Dublin managed by Tommy Lyons and the Rossies led by a certain former Dublin boss.

Just three years previously, in a welter of controversy, Tom Carr had been ousted by the Dublin county board on the casting vote of then-chairman John Bailey.

Ultimately, even powerful public declarations of support from his dressing-room couldn't save him.

Suffice to say, there was lots of history when Carr sought to topple his own county in 2004 - but he wasn't the first manager to face that loyalty conundrum.

"It is easy enough park it," he insists, looking back. "And, again, it's a challenge. Yeah, there's mixed emotions because obviously I had been with Dublin and all that stuff.

"But on the day it comes down to just the day. It comes down just to the game. You don't bring in a whole heap of history.

"At the end of the day, there's a lot of personal pride involved in all of this for players and managers. And nobody likes to end up on a beaten team - or a disgraced team."

Damage

It certainly wasn't that: Roscommon pushed Dublin pretty close and ultimately succumbed by 1-14 to 0-13, a 1-4 haul from current Sky Blues selector Jason Sherlock inflicting much of the damage.

MATCH WINNER: Dublin’s Jason Sherlock celebrates his goal in the 2004 SFC win over Roscommon. Photo: SPORTSFILE
MATCH WINNER: Dublin’s Jason Sherlock celebrates his goal in the 2004 SFC win over Roscommon. Photo: SPORTSFILE

"I had got very emotionally attached to that dressing-room over my four years with Dublin. I knew them all," Carr recalls.

"They were all very nice to me, even after the game, coming up shaking hands, chatting.

"And even beforehand. They didn't see me as being a traitor or on the other side or anything like that.

"They were all very honourable, very friendly. There was no animosity whatsoever."

For Carr, that Croke Park match summed up the difficulty faced by all the Roscommons of this world when trying to lower a heavyweight county.

"The likes of Roscommon and these teams, they are nearly beaten before they take on the Dublins and the Kerrys and the Tyrones," he reckons.

BAGGAGE

"It's just so much psychological baggage they're carrying; so much traditional baggage they carry into these games.

"It's very difficult to convince them they're good enough or that they have the belief.

"Even the day we came up (to Croke Park) ... I won't say most, a lot of the Roscommon lads had planned to be beaten because they were going to stay up in Dublin and they'd left cars up there and all that.

"So, all the little signs are there that they knew it was the end of the road, without even playing the game," adds Carr.

And yet they only lost by four points?

"That's all. But you see, looking back, if you could get inside these fellas' heads and say 'Hey lads, they're not invincible. Get in their heads, get in their faces, see how good they are, test them' … but a lot of the teams don't even get to that stage because they've given up before they take the pitch.

"And yes, your possibility of winning the game might only be 20 per cent, but some teams don't even get into that 20 per cent zone because they don't believe that they can even get into the 20 per cent zone," concludes the former Dublin footballer.

Promoted articles

Entertainment News