Rossies dare to dream of ending drought

Saturday mightn’t have been an afternoon for purists in Pearse Park, but there was enough pluck about Roscommon’s display to ensure they will contest an All Ireland U21 final for the first time since 1982.

These are encouraging times for Roscommon and manager Nigel Dineen’s measured approach is quickly earning respect in the west.

Reaching the decider was Dineen’s target from the outset of the campaign. “We are absolutely delighted to win. It was our goal at the start of the year to get to an All-Ireland final,” he said.

“That was our goal all along. It is only a two-horse race now, there were 32 horses in the race, but now only two are left so we just have to stay calm and focused in the next few weeks.

“We have worked very hard since the Connacht final; working on small things that we felt needed improving and we have to be satisfied. The lads couldn’t have done anymore than they have done and we are delighted to be in an All-Ireland final.”

It was a desperately disappointing encounter for Cavan, who were frustrated by a Roscommon outfit that adopted a serious work ethic, despite the early concession of a brilliant Kevin Tierney goal.

Eight minutes in Christopher Conroy’s delivery found Tierney and the full forward rattled the Roscommon net. Joe Dillon added a point moments later, but they then went 25 minutes without scoring either side of the interval.

In that spell, Roscommon reeled off 1-4 without reply and in such a tight and claustrophobic tussle it was a hugely significant spell.

Roscommon’s goal arrived in the 16th minute when Cian Connolly and Donie Smith crafted a chance for wing back Conor Daly, who drilled a smart shot into the bottom corner.

Smith nailed two points before the break as Roscommon went in 1-3 to 1-1 ahead.

After the restart it was a similar tale as Niall Kilroy and Smith kicked important points. Conroy eventually terminated Cavan’s search for a score, but Roscommon substitute Ciarán Murtagh replied to leave them four in front late on.

Then Tierney smashed a 57th minute goal for Cavan which narrowed the deficit down to one, but Roscommon stayed calm.

A pass from Cavan custodian Conor Gilsenan was intercepted by Colin Compton, who bagged the decisive Rossies’ goal with a cheeky chip.

“It was so tight and low scoring, said Dineen. “Even late on I looked up at the scoreboard and it was only 1-6 to 1-2. When they got the goal that brought it down to a point it was a worry for us because sometimes momentum can go against you. But we kept working hard, that is what we ask of the players and we were rewarded.”

Despite the loss Cavan boss Terry Hyland is adamant the majority of the panel will sample senior action soon.

“You build with success and you learn from defeats. We have to go away and see how we can get up to the next level. It is a natural progression for players to go from U21 to senior, whether it will happen this year or next year, it will happen eventually.”

Scorers for Roscommon: D Smith 0-4 (3fs), C Compton 1-1 (f), C Daly 1-0, N Kilroy, C Murtagh 0-1 each.

Scorers for Cavan: K Tierney 2-0, J Dillon, C Conroy 0-1 each.

Subs for Roscommon: J McManus for Oates (45), C Murtagh for Connolly (45), F Cregg for Keane (50), D Clabby for Kilroy (57).

Subs for Cavan: P King for McLoughlin (26), P O’Hara for O’Donnell (31), S O’Reilly for O’Hara (40), D McVeety for Dillon (45).

Referee: C Reilly (Meath).

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