It’s 13 long years since Roscommon dined at the top table in the league and there is no doubt they now face an uphill battle to stay there having lost their opening home match.
They led by a point in the final minute when the superb Fintan Cregg pointed a free from the right, so to lose by four from there was a harsh lesson to endure.
However, Monaghan are Ulster champions for a reason. They did not panic in the closing stages, just as they maintained their composure when they managed just two pointed frees in the opening half, and carved out the win just when Roscommon thought they had their hands on the two points.
“Look, we have earned the right to be in the division because we have won Division 3, won Division 2 and we have got to the semi-final of Division 1 so we have earned the right and that’s the way we look at it,” said O’Rourke.
“There are no easy games in it. Every game is a test for you. This was a big test and we are delighted to come through it. The rest will be the same. Look it, you have to be on your game every day. If not, you will get beat. There is a very thin line between being involved in the bottom and on the top.”
Kevin McStay, in charge with Fergal O’Donnell for the first time this season, is all too aware of the how tight that gap is and knows there will be a lot on the line when Roscommon travel to Kerry next weekend.
“We have a handy one next week,” he quipped. “But at the same time we showed that we can compete. We gave them plenty of it. They are a very experienced team, double Ulster champions. Look where we are coming from. But I think we can compete. We will go to Killarney next week and still think that we can do something down there.
“As someone said last week, lose your first game and you are looking up the table. There’s no doubt about that. All is not lost. I was watching Kerry play last night and we should be able to compete for long spells,” added McStay.
They competed for long spells yesterday in front of the capacity 2,900 crowd at the home of the St Brigid’s club — Hyde Park was ruled out due to the floods and there was a danger this match could have been switched to Carrick-on-Shannon.
Roscommon, after successive promotions, did all that was required of them in the opening half and went in leading by 1-5 to 0-2 having played with the wind. The key score came from a penalty by Ciaran Murtagh after 28 minutes after he had been fouled by Ryan Wylie, an offence which earned the Monaghan corner-back a black card.
Murtagh, though, was also black-carded before the break for a needless tackle on Colin Walshe, a big loss to Roscommon as Murtagh had scored 1-2 from placed balls by then.
Goalkeeper Rory Beggan and captain Conor McManus accounted for the two Monaghan points and the home following began to sense victory when Senan Kilbride extended their lead just 22 seconds after the retart.
But then Dermot Malone punished slack marking with a goal, while Thomas Kerr kicked two excellent points inside a minute before midfielder Neil McAdam, who picked up a second yellow in the dying moments, leveled with seven minutes left.
Cregg landed an excellent free for Roscommon in the dying moments but Malone leveled and the resultant kickout was deflected into the grateful arms of McManus, who blasted the winner to the net before Daniel McKenna sealed it with his second point.
C McManus 1-2 (2f), D Malone 1-1, T Kerr 0-2, D McKenna 0-2, R Beggan 0-2 (1f, 1 ’45), N McAdam 0-1.
C Murtagh 1-2 (1-0 pen, 2f), F Cregg 0-5 (2f), E Smith 0-1, S Kilbride 0-1.
R Beggan; C Walshe, D Wylie, R Wylie; D Mone, F Kelly, K O’Connell; N McAdam, D Hughes; K Duffy, D Malone, O Duffy; S Carey, T Kerr, C McManus.
C Boyle for R Wylie (28 mins), D McKenna for Carey (52), B McGinn for Duffy (59).
D O’Malley; S McDermott, N Collins, N McInerney; D Murray, N Daly, R Stack; E Smith, I Kilbride; C Devanney, N Kilroy, C Murtagh; F Cregg, S Kilbride, C Cregg.
C Connolly for C Murtagh (34 mins), U Harney for S Kilbride (52), R Daly for Kilroy (63), C Shine for Devanney (67), J McManus for C Cregg (69).
C Lane (Cork).