A Roscommon team from three decades of football stars
With the 2021 competitive season still some way off, Eamon A. Donoghue has attempted to pick the best Roscommon football players from those he seen over the last three decades - starting from 1990 right up until 2020. Here’s his selection from 1 to 15:
1. Shane Curran (St Brigid’s)
Over the years I watched numerous keepers in the primrose and blue but none comes to mind as strongly as Shane ‘Cake’ Curran. Curran was an outfield player for both his club Castlerea St Kevin’s and Roscommon at underage level, but it was when he moved to Brideswell and started playing with St Brigid’s that he became one of the most maverick keepers of his time. He could literally do anything on the pitch! He kicked frees and penalties and wasn’t afraid to come up the field with possession to the bewilderment and excitement of supporters.
2. Seanie McDermott (Western Gaels)
McDermott was a player who won two Connacht titles and played every game for Roscommon from 2005 to 2018. He always gave his all on the field for his county.
3. David Casey (Boyle)
Because of injuries and his versatility, David Casey played in numerous positions, but his displays at full-back during Roscommon’s run in the qualifiers in 2003/2004 will never be forgotten. Casey also won a Connacht title in 2010 at wing-back.
4. Enon Gavin (Clann na nGael)
It hasn’t been easy for players to be compared with the folk heroes of the past who played in the full-back line on the successful teams from 1977 to 1980, but I did see some outstanding defenders play for Roscommon. Among the players who stood out over the years was Enon Gavin; the Clann na nGael man won an All-Star award in 1991.
5. Clifford McDonald (Roscommon Gaels)
McDonald was always a player that was physical and a leader, things that sometimes have been missing in recent Roscommon teams.
6. Francie Grehan (St Aidan’s)
Roscommon produced some quality players over the years in the half-back line, from solid defenders to attacking players that could get on the scoreboard. Francie Grehan automatically comes to mind. John Tobin transferred Grehan from attack to the number six jersey and, incidentally, he is Roscommon’s last All-Star (2001). Grehan was a supporters’ player, a man who could rise the crowd, coming out of a cluster of players with the ball under the arm in swashbuckling style.
7. Mick Ryan (Roscommon Gaels)
Mick ‘Mixer’ Ryan was tough and resolute in the 2000s and while he played in the full-back line, he was probably a better half-back.
8. Seamus O’Neill (Kilbride)
Who could forget Seamie O’Neill and his performances, especially in the 2001 Connacht title win? O’Neill was, like the aforementioned Grehan, a crowd pleaser. Roscommon supporters often hoped with excitement for O’Neill to pull a spectacular catch from the skies.
9. Karol Mannion (St Brigid’s)
If picking on club football form, Mannion would be an automatic choice, and his time in midfield at inter-county level wasn’t very long but it was still significant. He did play a lot of his football for Roscommon at full-forward and wing-forward but in my view, he was always more at home in a midfield role.
10. Enda Smith (Boyle)
Smith comes to mind as one of the most influential ‘big moments’ players to ever wear the Roscommon jersey. Smith may not be a tackler of note, but he can produce moments that make stand him out as one of the most respected players among his peers in the country.
11. Stephen Lohan (Kilbride)
Lohan had all the attributes and was Roscommon’s marquee player for a number of years, playing at midfield, half-forward and full-forward.
12. Cathal Cregg (Western Gaels)
Cregg has won two three Connacht titles and is an exciting player that has had many excellent performances over the years.
13. Donie Shine (Clann na nGael)
Donie Shine had a relatively short inter-county career but his tally of 0-10 in the 2010 Connacht final will always stick in the memory. Shine built his profile from a young age and when his inter-county days ended, he continued to give five-star performances for his club Clann in the Roscommon championship.
14. Paul Earley (Michael Glavey’s)
Paul Earley’s performances on arrival back from his stint in Australia playing Aussie Rules will never be forgotten. Full-forward Earley was majestic and he was among Ireland’s very first AFL recruits. Earley also managed Ireland’s International Rules side in 2013. His high fielding had the crowd on the edge of their seats every time the ball went in towards him, and he won an All-Star in 1985.
15. Frankie Dolan (St Brigid’s)
Who could forget Frankie Dolan’s displays in 2003? Dolan had a fairly short inter-county career but fitted in more than some who played for over a decade. Dolan was also an outstanding club footballer, always showing in club fare that he merited his inter-county place.