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It would be shame if Rossies' loyal support hit by a change of style

By Declan Bogue

When it was Roscommon manager Kevin McStay's turn to speak after his team shipped an 18-point loss to Tyrone on Saturday, the day took a twist.

In that room under the Cusack Stand, the Mayo man was in full flow when the lights suddenly died. He continued on as if nothing had happened until a neon light appeared behind him.

"It's like a nightclub in here," he said with typical humour.

McStay is an interesting man. A former high-ranking army officer, he took the opposite route of manager-turned-pundit, believing he could only pontificate on the game for so long before he had to back it up.

His time in Roscommon has proved successful, with promotion to Division One, a Division Two league title and a Connacht Championship last season.

By any measure, he has achieved success. And he has done it in a certain style.

In Portlaoise a little over a week ago, his side beat Armagh in one of the best games of Gaelic football this writer had borne witness to in years. Both sides went out to win rather than contain, and after the game plenty talked of how their heart pounded heavy with the adrenalin of the contest. But on Saturday, their game was torn to pieces by a remorseless Tyrone side that plays method football.

McStay is a smart man and recognised that the days of Roscommon playing football as a means of expression are over if they want to compete at the highest level.

That is something that became apparent over the weekend, with people waking up to the fact that Dublin are just as locked into their patterns of attack and defence as anyone else.

McStay does raise something worth considering in all of this, however. Only five counties in Ireland are less populated than Roscommon, and still they bring a huge and loyal support with them wherever their football team plays. Now he acknowledges that a change of style might sever something of that link.

"That's a debate we are going to have to have, going into the early part of the winter. That's the way we play, which is easy to play against," he said.

"It's the kind of football… I'm not sure the Roscommon supporters would go and watch, if we changed our style dramatically. If we started looking like a Galway model or anything like that… whether our supporters would want that, whether the players would want that type of game, that's a discussion we are going to have to have."

And if they do change tack, it will be interesting to see just what effect it has on that support. What a shame.

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