O’Donnell’s joy as Rossies in

CHAMPIONS Roscommon eased to another Connacht final after crushing lacklustre Leitrim in this one- sided affair at Páirc Sean Mac Diarmada in Carrick-on-Shannon yesterday.

It was a far cry from the humiliating 20-point defeat suffered by the Rossies at the same stage of the competition against Mayo in 2009.

That defeat at McHale Park in Castlebar left a lasting mark on Fergal O’Donnell and his players. Now a steelier Roscommon outfit have recorded five straight wins in the Connacht championship (although they have not faced Galway or Mayo in that time).

This comprehensive 12-point win over Leitrim was satisfying for O’Donnell but that defeat two seasons ago remains fresh in his mind.

“Connacht medals are hard come by in Roscommon,” the manager admitted. “There are very few fellas win two back-to-back. But there is a great chance now but we know we’ll be up against it. They (Galway and Mayo) are both Division One teams. We’re coming from Division Four. “At the same time we’ll be hoping to make it difficult for them.

“The important thing is that we’re competitive. Leitrim will be disappointed today that they weren’t competitive. That is the one thing that we’ll have to be careful of. The 2009 game (against Mayo) is still very fresh in my memory and I don’t want a repeat of that.”

There was little fear of that happening yesterday as Leitrim had looked out of their depth from the opening whistle.

Donie Shine had the visitors in front after barely a minute and Senan Kilbride added a second within 60 seconds. Emlyn Mulligan got Leitrim off the mark in the sixth minute but Kilbride responded with a beautifully-struck point from a tight angle near the right corner of the pitch.

Karol Mannion had a goal chance on 10 minutes but his shot from inside the 20m line cleared the crossbar. However, Shine made no mistake when he was put through on goal by Kevin Higgins in the 22nd minute. The Clann na nGael man turned his marker before firing to the bottom right corner from inside the 13-metre line.

That left Roscommon 1-4 to 0-1 ahead and they hit three more points before the end of the half. Leitrim’s only response came from a Conor Beirne free in the 23rd minute.

A sloppy third quarter from Roscommon saw them spurn two goal opportunities as Leitrim goalkeeper Cathal McCrann made point-blank saves from Kilbride and Higgins. The same two players added points for Roscommon in the 40th and 50th minutes.

Leitrim staged a brief rally with three scores in four minutes. Mulligan got the pick of them with a superb strike from near the right touchline in the 52nd minute. Conor Beirne and Ronan Gallagher, who did well in the second half after moving from full-back to midfield, got the other two scores.

Roscommon regained focus during the closing quarter to outscore Leitrim by 1-3 to 0-1. Conor Devaney rounded McCrann before tapping the ball to the empty net for the final score of the game four minutes from time. It completed a routine win for the reigning Connacht champions and compounded a miserable day for the home side in a wet and windy Carrick-on-Shannon.

Scorers for Roscommon: S Kilbride (2f) 0-5; D Shine, C Devaney 1-1 each; K Higgins 0-2; C Cregg, S O’Grady, K Mannion 0-1 each.

Scorers for Leitrim: E Mulligan, C Beirne (2f) 0-2 each; A Croal, R Gallagher 0-1 each.

Subs for Leitrim: D Sweeney for D Lowe (36), B McDonald for Brennan (43), J McKeon for T Beirne (46), C Clarke for R Lowe (63).

Subs for Roscommon: S Purcell for Ward (51), E Kenny for Mannion (57), G Heneghan for Devaney (66), I Kilbride for O’Grady (69).

Referee: P McEnaney (Monaghan).

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