WITH a Connacht MFC final to look forward to this coming Sunday (Dr Hyde Park, 12noon), Roscommon minor football manager Garreth Carroll feels there's still plenty of work to be done by his young charges ahead of the weekend's provincial decider.
Roscommon are bidding for a second provincial title in a row, after beating Galway in last year's decider by 1-9 to 0-6, before losing in the All-Ireland semi-finals to eventual champions Tipperary.
They only narrowly ensured a place in this year's final, to be played before the Connacht SFC between Mayo and Sligo (2pm), when seeing off Galway after extra-time in the semi-finals, and with Sunday's final approaching fast, Carroll believes his troops can still get in some vital preparation.
"You don't get a chance to enjoy games like this," Carroll said at last Wednesday evening's pre-final press night in Ballyleague.
"I don't know what to feel to be honest. I felt relief after the last day (against Galway) because a lot of work went in from myself, Jonathan (Conroy), Barry (Greaney), Gerry (Nugent), and other people who have worked with us and have been loyal to us. The day just comes around so quickly. There are only two weeks of a break and you're constantly working on things ahead of the game. The day you relax and put your feet up thinking everything is done is the day you'll probably be beaten," added Carroll.
"There's a good bit of work to be done, that's for sure. We need to be a bit more composed on the ball. We need the ball to stick more in our inside forward line. Perhaps we were a little too anxious the last day (against Galway). The most pleasing thing was our work-rate, and willingness not to give in and play to the end. We were a little lucky too. But you could say we've earned our luck because we've worked so hard. There was a lot of tension associated with the Galway game because of what was at stake. There's a sense of relief that we came out the right side of it. But we're certainly not looking beyond Mayo. I haven't given any thought to any game or when it's on after that," he explained.
Mayo didn't set the world alight during their semi-final victory against Sligo. But Carroll feels the prospect of winning a Connacht title will see them improve considerably on Sunday.
"They (Mayo) have a great tradition at minor level. We beat them in the league but they'll have a completely different team on Sunday. On top of that, Roscommon beat them down in Castlebar last year. So there's probably a bit of hurt there from both occasions. They'll be coming to Hyde Park with all guns blazing and they've the senior game to look forward to afterwards. There's certainly plenty to be worried about, but hopefully we'll have our work done.
"I keep going back to the point that the next game is against Mayo. That's the opposition we're faced with, and it's a game we want to win badly," Carroll, a former Kilmore player and current Roscommon Gaels club-man, stated.
He also appealed to Roscommon supporters to make the journey to Dr Hyde Park.
"One of the most pleasing things about the last day, aside from the fact we got the win, was the crowd in Tuam. It definitely was a factor for us. You could feel at times as if we had a 16th man. The rafters were lifted when we got a score and I really do hope they come out for the Connacht final. You have the seniors playing on Saturday afternoon and the minors on Sunday, Roscommon people are going to have to dig deep into their pockets but I hope they do because I think we're going to get a very good minor final," he said.
"It will come down to the team that makes the least amount of mistakes and wants it most. Mayo and Galway are the two titans of Connacht football. We're trying to do something about that. Mayo will be very strong, there's no doubt about that.
It will come down to composure and hunger, and eliminating the kind of mistakes we made against Galway," concluded Carroll.
There's a healthy sprinkling of South Roscommon talent in the ranks, with Padraig Pearses' Ronan Daly taking the official Man of the Match award against Galway, and his brother, Conor, also featuring heavily. There's also Clann na nGael's Ultan Harney and Ruaidhri McManus, as well as Stephen Flynn and Dara Pettit (both Clann na nGael), and Niall McInerney (St Brigid's).
Both Roscommon and Mayo are already assured of places in the All-Ireland quarter-finals, with the winners of Sunday's game going on to meet Kerry in the last eight, and the losers of the game facing reigning All-Ireland champions Tipperary, who, of course, ended Roscommon's All-Ireland dreams last year.
All-Ireland MFC Quarter-Finals
*Connacht Winners v Kerry
*Ulster Winners v Leinster Runners-up
*Leinster Winners v Ulster Runners-up
*Tipperary v Connacht Runners-up