Roscommon selector Liam McHale.

Roscommon selector Liam McHale.

McHale: 'The biggest thing was the sense of relief that we got the win'

By Cian O'Connell

Relieved to have survived a late scare in New York, Roscommon selector Liam McHale admits it has been demanding dealing with severe injury issues.

Despite missing several key players Roscommon still enjoyed a productive Allianz Football League Division One campaign Roscommon, while Cian Connolly and Cathal Compton also suffered ailments in the narrow Gaelic Park success.

“It’s always a tough fixture,” McHale said at Wednesday’s launch of the Connacht Championship. “We got two guys badly hurt.

“Cian Connolly broke his jaw, he had been playing really well. Young Cathal Compton, the Under-21 midfielder who we believe has a lot of potential, hurt his groin after 12 minutes.

“It’s a tough place to go, there are a lot of distractions, there are all sorts of things going on. I’d say the biggest thing was the sense of relief that we got the win.”

Connolly, Compton, Ian Kilbride, and Enda Smith are all expected to miss the May 22 provincial clash against neighbours Leitrim according to McHale.  “Cathal is out with a groin strain. Cian is out, depending on how far we go but he has to have an operation on his jaw next week and he is going to be out for between eight to ten weeks after that. That’s a tough one on him.

“We have a few other fellas carrying niggles and knocks. Ian Kilbride is a big loss, people seem to have forgotten about Ian.

“We miss Ian, he will be out for another month. We miss Ian’s physicality in the middle of the field for sure. Enda Smith is the same, we miss his athleticism.

“Both of them have groin issues that we are trying to sort, we are hoping they won’t need operations. The medical team are hoping they can be back at the end of the month, if they are not back at the end of the month then they might have to go under the knife.

“We are not the biggest team in the world and Ian’s physicality is huge for us. Against Cork and teams like that Ian was huge for us. They are two big losses for us.

“We haven’t got Cathal Shine back to shape yet, Donie is trying to get back and Senan Kilbride has been in and out. So we’ve had a lot of issues. Those Division One games were all big Championship like matches for us and the one thing the boys noticed from Division Two to Division One was how physical it was.”

Conor Daly has also opted to spend the summer in the United States which McHale acknowledges was a setback.  “We are really disappointed because the three Dalys are serious athletes. Conor pulled out two weeks ago, said he was going to the States. We are a bit disappointed but if that’s what he wants to do, he’s a student, a young lad.

“I did it three or four times myself so I’m not going to be a hypocrite and say they shouldn’t do it. It was easier for us because if you lost the first round of the championship there was no qualifier and your phone would be hopping on Monday morning. These fellas are getting good offers, they are good footballers. I personally had the time of my life any time I did it.

“But I would never try to persuade a fella from going. Obviously you’d be disappointed but if they feel the need to do it then it’s a great experience for them.

“They will be playing football, the good guys will still be doing a bit of lifting and playing a fairly competitive game every weekend. We are disappointed because we can’t afford to be losing fellas like, Conor but at the same time we understand that if that’s what he needs to do then so be it.”