FBD LEAGUE FINAL:Galway 2-8 Roscommon 0-13
Kevin Egan Reports
Two goals from corner forward and man of the match Damien Comer in the opening five minutes gave Galway just enough leeway to withstand a late Roscommon surge in an entertaining FBD League final played at Tuam Stadium this afternoon.
The second half of the contest was dominated by the visitors but ultimately time was to run out on their bid to retain ownership of this competition as two late wides, one each from Cathal McHugh and Niall Daly, cost them a shot at extra time and gave Galway full forward and captain Adrian Varley a chance to lift silverware in front of a small crowd of home supporters.
Varley and Comer combined brilliantly in the Galway full forward line throughout this contest, scoring 2-4 between them, but the Tribesmen’s attack looked toothless otherwise, as evidenced by the fact that wing back Johnny Heaney was the only other player that made any meaningful impact on the scoreboard on their behalf.
It’s was Comer’s physical power underneath a dropping ball that proved most critical as both of his early goals came in a very similar manner, fisted to the net despite the close attention of his direct marker Neil Collins.
Barely fifteen seconds were on the clock when the Annaghdown man rose highest to punch a lobbed free from Tom Flynn goalwards, and with Roscommon keeper Geoffrey Claffey stranded in no man’s land, torn between contesting possession and protecting his line, the ball was able to trickle over the line for the opening score of the game.
Johnny Heaney added a point from thirty metres before Senan Kilbride got Roscommon off the mark with a typical left-footed strike, however the Rossies were to fall into a bigger hole in the fifth minute as Comer again met a high ball with a punch and again found the net, the assist this time coming from Heaney.
Roscommon found their scoring rhythm over the next fifteen minutes and halved the gap by kicking four of the next five points, including some excellent scores from play by Kilbride and centre forward Kieran Kilcline.
Unlike their previous outing against Mayo, the Division One side enjoyed plenty of primary possession here and could have got much closer to Galway were it not for some errant shooting – they racked up eight wides in total in the first half.
Two excellent points from Comer and Varley before half time left Galway in control, 2-5 to 0-6 in front, and with the breeze set to favour the home side in the second half, the odds on Roscommon retaining their FBD league title already looked very long indeed.
Both sides had goal chances at the start of the second half, Ronan Daly getting blocked at close range while Tom Flynn pulled his shot across goal, but that was one of very few worthwhile attacks mounted by Galway in this half hour as Roscommon gradually took over, controlling possession with good close range support play and intricate lines of running.
Mayo referee Declan Corcoran drew the ire of the home fans by awarding a series of frees Roscommon’s way and as Cian Connolly and Ciarán Murtagh chipped away at the lead, Galway’s forwards became increasingly starved of possession. A fine catch and kick score from Damien Varley was their only point in the first 24 minutes of the second half, which allowed Roscommon to draw level, 2-6 to 0-12.
An excellent point from Johnny Heaney edged Galway back in front and almost immediately Shane Walsh added another through a free, earned by another excellent run and catch from Varley, but there was still time for a late Roscommon onslaught, kick started by Niall Daly’s superb point from 35 metres out.
The decision to replace Ciarán Murtagh was to cost Kevin McStay and Fergal O’Donnell’s side however as their right footed freetaker was sitting on the bench when Senan Kilbride was fouled under the terrace on the 20m line, leaving Cathal McHugh to push a shot wide of the far post instead. Daly had another effort in traffic that drifted wide at the death, the last action in a competitive and enjoyable hour of football that should set up both teams very well for their league openers against Laois and Monaghan next Sunday.
Galway: T Dolan; E Kerin, D Kyne, D Wynne; L Silke, G O’Donnell, J Heaney (0-2); F Ó’Curraoín, P Conroy; T Flynn, E Hoare, E Tierney (0-1); D Comer (2-1), A Varley (0-3), E Brannigan.
Subs: S Walsh (0-1f) for Hoare (47), P Mannion for Branningan (59)
Roscommon: G Claffey; R Stack, T Featherston, N Collins; B Murtagh, N Daly (0-1), R Daly; E Smith, C Shine; S Oates (0-1), K Kilcline (0-1), C Murtagh (0-4f); C Connolly (0-4, 0-3f), S Kilbride (0-2), C McHugh.
Subs: S McDermott for Collins (HT), N Kilroy for Kilcline (39), U Harney for Oates (42), F Kelly for Shine (46), F Cregg for C Murtagh (53)
Referee: Declan Corcoran (Mayo)