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Friday 19 October 2018

McStay: Ros not yet conditioned to beat Donegal

Bounce back: Donegal manager Declan Bonner rallies his troops after their defeat to Dublin last week in Croke Park. Photo: Sportsfile
Bounce back: Donegal manager Declan Bonner rallies his troops after their defeat to Dublin last week in Croke Park. Photo: Sportsfile

In a fairly sobering post match press conference in Croke Park press conference last Saturday evening, Kevin McStay mentioned the word 'conditioning' five times.

He noted, ruefully, that Tyrone's was "a good touch ahead of ours".

Later, McStay reinforced the point, repeating that Tyrone - Roscommon's torturers over the previous half and a half were "at elite level conditioning, and we're not."

Armagh, the team Roscommon beat to get their place among the 'Super 8' elite "may not have elite conditioning," he added, with hindsight.

His point had been reinforced with each of the 28 scores Tyrone had put on his team, particularly the ones in the second half, when Roscommon were beaten and weary.

Artistic forwards

The sight of Roscommon's artistic forwards tracking their lighter, more athletic runners 70 yards down the pitch in what amounted to no more than a support run may not be one McStay reviews fondly from a tactical point of view, however.

Later, Declan Bonner touched on a similar theme after his Donegal team were beaten, albeit in wholly differing circumstances.

The issue of fitness - or conditioning as McStay put it - has been one attached this rejigged competition since its inception.

Yet Bonner sounded an altogether more optimistic note about his team's physical capacity to endure the next three weeks of high-level competition.

"Our overall fitness, they've not been at their optimum level yet," he noted.

"There is more in the tank. The lads are in great shape because of Paul Fisher and our strength and conditioning team.

"We feel there's more to come. The games are coming thick and fast and that's why that sort of conditioning is so important. They're ready to play week-in, week-out.

"We've had a few injuries of the nature you'd expect - Paddy McBrearty's was from a freakish late challenge that came across him.

"We feel the team is in a good place and we feel we can show more."

If McStay wasn't quite ready to fold the tent last week, he was already speculating as to the future direction of Roscommon's tactical development.

They have a trip back to Croke Park to face Dublin to come but would dearly love to win this, their designated home 'Super 8' game.

Donegal have the running game that the Rossies find to so difficult to handle, however, and should come through here.

ODDS: Roscommon 4/1, Draw 10/1, Donegal 1/4

VERDICT: Donegal

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