In his Report to Friday’s Roscommon GAA Annual Convention County Secretary Brian Carroll has referred to 2016 as “a most challenging year for Roscommon GAA both on and off the pitch”.
The comprehensive, 23 page report covers all aspects of Roscommon GAA activity at Club and County level during the past 12 months. The following are some of the key points
The low points
Most of the challenges he spoke of referred to the issues surrounding the unavailability of Dr Hyde Park
“For our final League game we welcomed All-Ireland Champions Dublin west of the Shannon. The game was fixed for Dr Hyde Park.e In the event Hyde Park wasn’t playable Carrick On Shannon was on standby. Croke Park sent a Referee down to inspect the pitch on Saturday evening and it was decided that another inspection would take place on Sunday morning. That inspection took place by an inter County referee and he deemed the pitch unplayable. Immediately the game was switched to Carrick On Shannon. It was a difficult situation to get right.
When the Down game was switched on the Friday we were criticised for switching too early and not giving the Hyde a chance, when the Mayo game wasn’t switched and let go ahead in the Hyde we were criticised for not switching it and when the Dublin game was switched on the Sunday morning we were criticised for not switching it earlier. It was certainly a case of dammed if you do and dammed if you don’t.
The Secretary went on to say
“We tried at all times to make sure that our Senior team played their home games on their home which is where we all want to see Roscommon playing. Hopefully with our new pitch available in early 2017 we won’t have a situation like what occurred in 2016 happening again. To think that our Senior Football team played 8 league matches in 2016 and didn’t play two games at the same pitch was very disappointing for everyone concerned.”
Another, related issue, which he commented on was something which was misreported by a number of National Media outlets based on unverified Social Media comments.
“In relation to the Dublin game I made contact with a bus company in the County and requested them to provide free Busses for any supporters in Roscommon town who need transport to Carrick On Shannon. 2 Busses departed from Roscommon town and neither off these Busses charged any passenger. Roscommon GAA could not have any control over any other private bus company who charged people to travel to Carrick On Shannon on that day.
The manner of Roscommon’s exit from the All-Ireland Championship and the events that followed were also low points – “the circumstances of the Galway and Clare defeats was probably what hurt most.” He noted that the break-up of the Management Team had been “written about and well discussed” and concluded by paying tribute to Fergal O’Donnell; a great servant to Roscommon GAA for a number of years” and thanking all of the outgoing Management.
Looking to the future he has appealed to all Roscommon supporters to get behind the new management and team in 2017.
“We have to move forward in a united fashion if we are to succeed on the field. We must now leave the past where it belongs, in the past.”
It wasn’t all darkness during 2016. Of the highs the recalls the 18 point demolition of Cork as being “an attacking display of football that any team in the Country would have been proud of” and of course the qualification for the Allianz Football League Semi-Final. The second half recovery against Sligo in the Connacht Championship as “probably the best 35 minutes of football by a Roscommon team in recent years.”
On a personal level the Kilmore man said he was “delighted and honoured to be able to present 2 of my own club men Kevin Caslin and Jack Sharkey with the Jimmy Murray Cup.”
Referring to an incident were Leitrim Under 21 Player Alan McTigue collapsed during the Hastings Shield Semi-Final, and was saved by the quick thinking of Roscommon physio Conor McGowan, the Secretary called on Clubs to test their defibrillators and to make sure an adequate number of people are trained in the use of the machine.
Refereeing was another area covered “No matter what decision is made then it is likely half the people there won’t be happy with it. This is part of the problem why it is becoming more difficult to get new referees involved.”
He went on to challenge Clubs to identify and recruit one person interested in becoming a Referee by the 1st of March. “If every club done this we would have 32 new referees which would be a great boost for referee numbers in the County.”
The need for a permanent training facility he called for the whole county to back the development of the Dermot Earley Centre adding that it “will be a massive challenge for the Board to be in a position to finance a project like this.”
Commenting on what future historians might make of the what has happened in Roscommon GAA circles this year he said that they “will have to read the history chapter on 2016 a few times to make sure we are reading it correct”. Looking ahead he said that 2017 is
“the chapter we can all guide and have an influence on. We can pull together and move forward as one united force and make sure that when the chapter on 2017 is written it will be a memorable one for all the right reasons.”
That note is also a fitting way to end this article.