FOLLOWING impressive recent victories over Kerry and Cork, the Roscommon County Board have confirmed it has formally asked the GAA to be moved into the Munster Championship, in time for this summer.
Roscommon’s most recent victory in the province came in Páirc Uí Rinn, where thanks to Ciarán Murtagh and Cathal Cregg, the Rossies thrashed Cork by a scoreline of 4-25 to 3-10, having led by 20 points at half-time.
In the immediate aftermath of the game, Roscommon’s co-manager, Fergal O’Donnell, bemoaned the fact that his side couldn’t “play teams like Cork and Kerry every week” and the idea appears to have caught on in the county.
The GAA confirmed a Special Congress will be held to discuss the matter on May 14th when Roscommon will aim to follow in Galway’s footsteps, after their Hurling team was moved into Leinster following complaints of a lack of competitiveness in the Connaught Hurling Championship.
Responding to the announcement, O’Donnell said the move would benefit football in the county. “The Connaught Championship is far too competitive, we can see that now,” he told Shannonside radio on Tuesday. “I think we’ve seen in recent weeks that we really belong in Munster, where the teams are little bit more on our level.”
The tensions between Roscommon GAA and the province began to appear as early as last year. After Roscommon’s disappointing elimination at the hands of Fermanagh, O’Donnell hinted at the “many obstacles” blocking his county’s progression. “We can’t compete with the pool of players of the likes of Galway, Mayo or even Sligo,” he said angrly. “We’re just a small county with a small group. New York, London, and Leitrim have a combined pool of slightly over 17 million people. How the f*ck are we expected to compete with all that?”
Roscommon may not have to compete with “that” anymore, if the GAA’s Special Congress agrees with Roscommon. Speakers from all over Ireland will give their views on the motion and GAA president, Aogán Ó Fearghaíl, admits some “research” will be required, on a situation he describes as “unprecedented”. “Honestly, most of us are dealing with countries we’ve never even heard of,” he said.
Kevin McStay re-irritated O’Donnell’s comments and emphasised his own shortcomings as a key factor in seeking the move. “As anyone in my home county of Mayo will tell you, I’m not good enough to manage a senior county team in Connaught,” the joint manager said. “Hopefully I can earn my stripes in Munster, guide Roscommon to a few All-Ireland titles and then maybe I’ll be good enough to manage Mayo.”
Sligo’s manager Niall Carew, told Ocean FM he was “disappointed” at his local rival’s announcement, saying: “We’re very sorry to hear that Roscommon are looking to leave the province. They were one of the few counties we could occasionally beat.”
Whether or not Roscommon will join the existing 6 counties of Munster or replace one of them, remains to be seen. If Connaught insists on a replacement team, Clare would appear the frontrunners to be given the boot from Munster, following years of intense speculation.
On the surface, the GAA appear open to the idea, having long feared the Connaught Championship was in danger of becoming too big for the national game. Indeed both the Sligo and Leitrim gaelic associations have recently discussed the possibility of the North West province breaking away to form their own “International Super Connaught Championship.” GAA heads claim that such a move would prove “disastrous for the development of the sport in the remaining provinces.”