• Home
  • /
  • GAA
  • /
  • Cathal Cregg Explains Why It Very Nearly Went Tits-Up For Roscommon In New York

Cathal Cregg Explains Why It Very Nearly Went Tits-Up For Roscommon In New York

Cathal Cregg Explains Why It Very Nearly Went Tits-Up For Roscommon In New York
By PJ Browne

Roscommon know how close they came to disaster.

More than a week after their escape from the Bronx, you can still hear the relief in Cathal Cregg's voice. It's a tone which he will likely adopt whenever he's asked about the game in the future.

The Championship's opening game between the Yanks and a rotating Connacht opponent is usually a facile victory for the fox in the Gaelic Park coop. Over the previous five years, New York's margin of defeat was never less than 16 points.

This year was different. The home side gave the early darlings of this year's league a serious fright. It was as if Wes Craven had scripted a horror just for Roscommon football fans. New York lost by just a point, the closest they have come to a scalp since 2003's two-point defeat to Leitrim. Vinny Cadden, a Sligoman between the posts, was Freddie Kruger for the Rossies.

Roscommon had multiple chances to raise the green flag. They only did so via a Cian Murtagh penalty. It was their profligacy in front of goal which nearly led to defeat according to Cregg.

We could have scored 2-10 or 3-10 in the first half, instead we got 1-6 or something like that which wasn't good enough. The game should have been out of sight at that stage but we missed a lot of chances and they very nearly punished us for it.

We missed five one-on-one goal chances and at any level you can't do that and expect to win a game. New York have some good players and they got a purple patch at the end of the game. We were lucky to come out of it.

Defeat, something not realistically contemplated before the game, became a legitimate possibility late on. In the end, only a Senan Kilbride point in the 70th minute separated the teams.

One of the equalising factors was the unpredictable Gaelic Park surface. Cregg said on parts the ball might not return after a hop but on others, it would bounce several feet into the air higher than expected.

I suppose there was one point when Geoffrey Claffey made the save, that would have drawn the game at the time. It was funny, one of our defenders was coming out and the pitch can go dead or it can hop over your head. It looked like our defender had come out to get it perfectly and it just bounced straight over his head and into their corner forward's hands. He was one-one-one and luckily Geoffrey Claffey pulled off a great save.

The game was played on Sunday but Roscommon had arrived in New York earlier in the week - fundraisers had to be attended. They were afforded two training sessions at Gaelic Park to acclimatise to the fieldturf. Given the varying weather conditions, it was ineffective preparation.

We had trained on the Friday and the Saturday. We trained on the Saturday and we all had to put on suncream because it was so hot, we were getting burned. Then the next day it was pouring rain. So it was completely different. That wasn't ideal.

Not knowing who would play for New York was another element which narrowed the expected gap between the two sides. Lining up in midfield for New York was a 22-year-old Galway man who has played in three All-Ireland hurling finals - Johnny Glynn.

Advertisement

The experience leaves Cregg in no doubt that New York will one day get a Championship win.

It's unusual, you're travelling over, you're spending a couple of days in a hotel and lads aren't used to it. They name a panel of 42, a lot of good players. You don't know who they're going to play, you don't know what they're going to play. It was pouring rain on the day. They played some good football throughout but we missed an awful lot of goal chances. You can't do that - at any level - luckily we weren't punished.

To be fair to them, a lot of people put them down, but when you go trough their team an awful lot of them have played at least at minor or U21 and some of them have been on inter-county panels. They're good quality players.

I have no doubt [they'll get a Championship win]. Thankfully, it wasn't us.

Picture credit: SPORTSFILE

Join The Monday Club Have a tip or something brilliant you wanted to share on? We're looking for loyal Balls readers free-to-join members club where top tipsters can win prizes and Balls merchandise

Processing your request...

You are subscribed now!

Copyright © 2022. All rights reserved. Developed by Square1 and powered by PublisherPlus.com

Advertisement