Sunday 24 February 2019

Second half misses 'just drained us', says McStay

Champions: Galway's Damien Comer lifts the Nestor Cup
Champions: Galway's Damien Comer lifts the Nestor Cup

At half-time in 'the Hyde', two-in-a-row was within touching distance. Roscommon hadn't launched a successful Connacht title defence since 1991 but now they led by three points, having played against the wind with supremely assured game-management.

By game's end, however, Kevin McStay was staring at a four-point defeat and left to lament what might have been.

"It's not heartbreaking - it's frustrating," he clarified in response to the opening tear-jerking question.

"We won't be thinking it ... we know we had the chances. But Galway were able push it home that bit more clinically at the end, so I have to commend them and congratulate them and I have done.

"We have to look at the positives and say that because we stayed competitive to the 34th or 35th minute (of the second half) that there must be some life for us beyond today, and round four is the challenge."

Next question - how did Roscommon blow their chance, apart from the not-inconsiderable reality of Galway's second half transformation?

McStay put most emphasis on a series of second half wides (seven in total) and undercooked efforts that sucked the life out of them.

"They just drained us," the Roscommon manager admitted. "Even when we got the penalty you think, 'Right, here we go' ... but we followed it up with two bungled chances that just didn't let us build momentum or kick on.

"If we had got to three or four (ahead) I've no doubt we would have really put it up to Galway, because they weren't playing that well. The first half was very flat (for Galway) and was perfection for us, that was exactly what we wanted to do. But the second half wasn't anything near what we had hoped."

Signs are on it: they didn't score from play on the restart.

The other Kevin - Galway boss Walsh - was understandably far happier. But only after a stern half-time talking to his underperforming troops.

"I'd say there's probably about five hand-passes from two yards given away in the first half," he estimated.

"Turnovers like that, (against) a team like Roscommon, they're lovely ball players, you can't afford that at this level. Of course, we were off-colour at that point. That's something we addressed at half-time. But, in the long run, it's probably a good thing to experience - that these boys had to knuckle down and dig back deep."


Might Galway have struggled to recover two or three years ago? "Look it, we've found our way out of holes in the past as well," Walsh countered. "I know everyone keeps coming back to the one or two bad performances in the last three years. There were a lot of good performances (too).

"As I said, plenty of people that don't do a lot of homework just keep firing that stuff out. It's crazy stuff. In fairness today, if you play like that in the first half and kept playing like that, giving away all the turnovers, you're heading for a nine-point defeat."

As for what made the difference, he concluded: "Experience. Work. One or two youths coming in without fear. The older fellas learning a lot more than what they'd learned in the past. Work-rate. You name it."

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