Cathal Cregg: Roscommon so focused on Leitrim test

Even at this early stage, Roscommon’s season has already had its share of ups and downs.

Beaten by Monaghan in the opening round of the Allianz FL Division 1, impressive wins against Kerry, Cork, Down, and Donegal helped them to a semi-final spot. There, however, they lost by 10 points to Kerry and last Sunday week they were almost on the receiving end of New York’s first-ever championship win, scraping out of Gaelic Park with a 1-15 to 0-17 win.

A Connacht quarter-final against Leitrim in Páirc Seán Mac Diarmada awaits next Sunday week and Roscommon attacker Cathal Cregg says joint-managers Fergal O’Donnell and Kevin McStay preferred to focus on the positives in the immediate aftermath of the New York game.

“The two of them are vastly experienced they wouldn’t just go tearing strips off you,” he says. ‘They’d be constructive, there’s no point in going in and shouting and roaring at lads.

“We have to try and rectify it in the next 10 days because if we don’t we’ll have a very tough one in Carrick.”

Cregg admits there was a moment he feared history was about to made.

“At one point Geoffrey Claffey made a save, [a goal] would have drawn the game,” he says.

“One of our defenders was coming out, and there’s a very funny drop on the pitch, the ball can actually go dead, or drop over your head. And the ball bounced five yards over his head, and straight into their corner-forward. It was one-on-on, and Claffey pulled off a great save, so that was serious heart-in-the-mouth stuff. If that had gone it we were in serious trouble.

“It was my third trip over. I went the first year, and that was hard enough, And like London last year, it’s a no-win situation, and generally not that easy. Like Mayo got it hard in London a few years ago, Galway had it hard in New York. It’s not all it’s cracked up to be.”

There will come a day when a visiting county leaves the Big Apple having lost to the hosts, Cregg feels.

“Yeah, I’ve no doubt they will,” he says, “thankfully it wasn’t us. To be fair to New York, a lot of people put them down. Go through their team, an awful lot have played at least minor or U21, and been on intercounty panels.

“They’re good quality players, and sometimes people can be a small bit disrespectful. As I said, we missed an awful lot of chances, and you can’t be doing that against players of that level.”

One blessing in disguise is the hype building during the spring has now been soused to some extent.

“I’d say it’s well and truly dampened now!” Cregg laughs. “Roscommon fans are great. Even after the game in New York there wouldn’t be a whole pile of negativity around it. We’ve been very fortunate over the last couple of years with the great support we’ve gotten.

“I’m sure in Leitrim the support will be great again. But we need to start putting some performances together to give them something to shout about. Because the last couple of games have been disappointing for us.

“We’ve had some very good days this year and some bad days. I was there when we got relegated to Division 4, played in Division 4, and we’re right back up again. So you take the good with the bad and hopefully there will be a few more good ones.”


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