We may have to change our style to live with the Tyrones of this world: Kevin McStay
All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Super 8s Round One: Roscommon 2-12 Tyrone 4-24
THERE wasn’t one wasted syllable in Kevin McStay’s post-match press briefing on Saturday afternoon.
No rambling words or sentences that went up dark alleys never to emerge again.
His 11 minutes 53 seconds was more like an oral thesis on the good, the bad and the ugly of the modern game – and trying to find where the romantics of Roscommon fit into this weird and not-so wonderful world of Gaelic football.
When you get an 18-point “trimming” like Roscommon got from a rampant Tyrone side you question everything.
You question how easy you are to play against, your core values, your team’s conditioning. Everything was up for grabs in that dank room beneath the Cusack Stand on Saturday.
This was a systematic destruction of Roscommon – to such a catastrophic level that McStay candidly opined that it was maybe time the Rossies ditched some core principles in order to compete with teams like Tyrone.
At times, he said, Tyrone “sucked the life out of the game”, adding he wasn’t a fan of “passing the ball over and back and going back the way” and that parts of Saturday's encounter were “hard to watch”.
“It’s not a style I particularly like but I have to be a realist as well,” said the Roscommon manager.
“I have to give my team the best chance of winning the games. We got lucky last week when Armagh said: ‘Right, let’s have a game here’, and we both had a shot at it. But the majority of teams won’t engage in that.
“We’re not eejits. We know the style of play that beat Armagh last week is lovely to watch and it’s grand – but the hard-nosed analysts and managers are saying: ‘Sure that’s grand, lads, but that won’t stack up when the real gravy starts being divvied up.’
“We know that, but we have the type of player, physically and athletically, that we can change our game and our style of game we play. They are all big questions but they’re not going to be answered in the next two or three weeks. [But] It’s a question we all knew - somewhere down the road - we’d have to ask ourselves.”
Roscommon conceded a whopping 4-24 to Tyrone in Saturday’s inaugural Super 8s clash at Croke Park, with Niall Sludden, Conor Meyler, Peter Harte (pen) and Richie Donnelly each raising green flags for the Ulstermen.
Time and again Roscommon players got irreversibly tangled up in Tyrone’s defensive web and paid the price with nearly every turnover.
“That’s the way we play - which is easy to play against,” McStay acknowledged.
“It's a type of football [defensive football] I don’t think Roscommon supporters would go and watch, if we change style dramatically, if we start looking like a Galway or Monaghan or something like that...
“Whether our supporters would want that, whether our players would want that type of game – that’s a discussion we’re going to have to have because we’ve had two years trying to develop ourselves, trying to get out of the lower divisions and into Division One, and try and get a title along the way – thankfully we did.
“But, now, going onto the next level, that elite level, is going to take big, strategic decisions in style and in personnel.
“That’s what a day like today does to you. You have to stop now and say: ‘This isn’t good enough. We’re not able of competing against Tyrone’.
“And two weeks later we’re back to face the ultimate kingpins [Dublin], and that’s daunting. So next week’s match [against Donegal] is now paramount for us.”
Tyrone, meanwhile, have an injury doubt over Cathal McCarron for next week's Dublin clash in Omagh.
The Tyrone defender was forced out of Saturday's game after 18 minutes. Collie Cavanagh also picked up a knock but is expected to be fit.