Kevin McStay claims only a miracle will save his struggling Roscommon side from relegation as they continue to hunt their first win of the campaign.
The Rossies remain the only team in Ireland without a win in the league and never really looked like claiming one against high flying Monaghan, who are now joint top, in Inniskeen.
The visitors did have a brief period of dominance midway through the first-half when they reeled off four points without reply to briefly draw level.
But Monaghan finished the half strong to put clear daylight between the sides and sealed victory with second-half goals from Jack McCarron, who finished with 1-7, and substitute Owen Duffy.
Monaghan can realistically challenge now for a top-two finish, and a final place, with ties against Donegal, next weekend, and Dublin on the horizon, two of the teams they’re locked on seven points with.
There’s no light at the end of the tunnel for McStay and his crisis hit Roscommon though who seem certain to drop to Division 2.
They need to beat, of all teams, Dublin, and at Croke Park, next Saturday night and then overcome Cavan, all the while hoping results elsewhere go their way, to stay up.
They were once again outplayed in the absence of key figures like Cathal Cregg who have declined to play this year and McStay smiled wryly when informed that it’s still mathematically possible they could stay up.
“That’s outstanding news!” he said. “Look, it’s not over until it’s over but we’re playing the best team of the modern era in their home ground next Saturday night and they’re chasing a record. It ain’t going to be simple.
“Then we’re playing Cavan who’ll be fighting for their lives the following Sunday. That’s how it’s looking for us. Obviously it’s not over until it’s over but you wouldn’t be putting a shed load of money on us staying up either.”
McStay felt compelled after the loss to Kerry earlier this month to respond to a stinging local radio attack on him by former Roscommon manager Gay Sheerin.
Asked about the mood in the camp after yesterday’s defeat, McStay maintained it’s strong.
“The team is tight, morale is very good in the team,” he said. “We have a very good spirit. They’re young, enthusiastic and they’re learning tough, tough lessons in this difficult, difficult division.”
Roscommon coped with that Monaghan power for about 30 minutes before caving in to a well drilled counter attacking side.
Fintan Kelly was outstanding at the back for Monaghan and drove forward for a point. He and Conor McManus also had first-half goal chances that were denied by excellent Darren O’Malley saves.
Monaghan led 0-12 to 0-8 at the break and found a leader in Jack McCarron.
The fit again full-forward finished with 1-7 and his 53rd minute goal, which followed a forgettable third quarter, opened up a seven-point gap. Darren Hughes did the spade work with a surging run down the right and the ball fell kindly to McCarron after a couple of blocked attempts.
Owen Duffy and Kelly added points before Duffy played a clever one-two with McManus and palmed in Monaghan’s second goal on the hour mark. Monaghan led by 11 points after that goal and coasted home as Roscommon pinched a consolation goal through Tadhg O’Rourke following a quick Ultan Harney free.
Scorers for Monaghan:
J. McCarron (1-7, 5 frees); O. Duffy (1-1); C. McManus (0-4, 2 frees); D. Ward (0-2); F. Kelly, D. Hughes, S. Carey (0-1 each).
Scorers for Roscommon:
C. Murtagh (0-6, 5 frees); T. O’Rourke (1-0); D. Smith, C. Devaney (0-2); G. Patterson, D. Murtagh (1 free), E. Smith (0-1 each).
R. Beggan; F. Kelly, D. Wylie (c), R. Wylie; R. McAnespie, N. McAdam, K. O’Connell; D. Hughes, K. Hughes; G Doogan, S. Carey, K. Duffy; J. McCarron, C. McManus, D. Ward.
Subs for Monaghan:
O. Duffy for Carey (47); C. McCarthy for McAnespie (51); V. Corey for K. Duffy; O. Coyle for D. Wylie (both 62); G. Greenan for D. Hughes (65); S. Gollogly for O’Connell (66).
D. O’Malley; S. McDermott, T. Featherston, N. McInerney; G. Patterson, S. Mullooly, D. Murray; T. Corcoran, T. O’Rourke; F. Cregg, C. Devaney, E. Smith; C. Murtagh (c), D. Smith, C. Connolly.
Subs for Roscommon:
U. Harney for Cregg; P. Brogan for Featherston, R. Stack for Patterson (all h/t); D. Murtagh for Connolly (50); C. Compton for D. Smith (55); S. Killoran for Corcoran (63).
N. Mooney (Cavan).
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