"Thankfully it wasn't us" - Roscommon's Cathal Cregg expects New York to cause a Championship shock very soon

The Roscommon forward scored a point in the narrow win earlier this month

"Thankfully it wasn't us" - Roscommon's Cathal Cregg expects New York to cause a Championship shock very soon

Roscommon’s Cathal Cregg Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Ed Mulholland

It was the first game of the 2016 Football Championship, and was close to being the story of the year. New York almost won their first Championship game in their history before coming up short against Roscommon earlier this month.

The surprise package of the Allianz League were expected to just turn up in The Bronx and win by a double-digit margin. Instead, they held on for their lives from a rampaging New York side looking to make history.

Cathal Cregg scored a point in that game, and he still cant grasp what happened in Gaelic Park, over a week later. "It's hard to put your finger on it", Cregg told Newstalk. "We actually played well for good periods of the game and we were up by four, five or six points for nearly the majority of the game. We were six points up with ten minutes to go."

It was a Connacht man, playing away from home who caught Cregg's eye and kept the game close according to the Western Gaels star. "We missed an awful lot of goal chances. Vinnie Cadden, who played with Sligo, was man-of-the-match. He pulled off some incredible saves. I think he had five one-on-one saves, which would have made us an awful lot more comfortable in the game."

"New York had their purple patch in the last couple of minutes. Geoffrey Claffey then pulled out a good save for us. It was heart-in-the-mouth stuff in the finish. We went out to win and the game and we won the game. We're just going to have to park it and get on with things now."

Roscommon went into the game as heavy favourites, and were heading to New York off the back of an excellent league campaign. Despite the confidence in the team Cregg is sure the team went into the game fully focused.

"It wasn't complacency. We prepared for the game the exact same as we would prepare for any other game. We knew they had some very good players... We actually played some quite good football and put some good moves together but we didn't put the goal chances away."

"People don't give a lot of the New York players a lot of respect. A lot them have played inter-country before. They are good players in their own right. They were always going to get a purple patch but ultimately we hadn't put our chances away."

The American side have played in the Connacht Championship since 1999, but have yet to win a match despite some close games. Cregg expects New York to win a game sooner rather than later, in the same way London shocked Sligo in 2013, before reaching the Connacht Final. "We're not the first to have a scare over there. Galway has a scare a couple of years ago. Someone will get caught over there, there's no doubt about it. Thankfully it wasn't us."

After their New York scare, Roscommon return closer to home with a game against Leitrim later this month away from home. Cregg says he is only focused on that game, despite the potential of a memorable summer. "I won't be looking past Leitrim, especially after what happened in New York. We know traditionally against Letirim, especially down in Carrick-on-Shannon, it's a very, very tough game. We won't look past that."

The scare in Gaelic Park, may end up being the making of this Roscommon team in 2016. All form points towards them meeting either Mayo or Galway in the Connacht Final in July. Joint-managers Fergal O'Donnell and Kevin McStay would have taken that, with a few minutes left in The Bronx.

Cathal was speaking in Croke Park as the Insight Centre for Data Analytics showcased the results of three years of research aimed at capturing and storing European traditional sports techniques for present and future players. The project, known as Replay, involves cutting edge sensor technology and data analytics combined to create, for the first time, a digitised ‘library of movement’ for use by athletes and coaches.