Roscommon 2-23 Leitrim 1-9
Roscommon will get their chance to avenge their comprehensive defeat to Galway in last year’s Connacht final reply after they easily booked their place in this year’s decider with a 2-23 to 1-9 win over Leitrim at Dr Hyde Park this afternoon.
As the last team to enter the race for this year’s All Ireland championship, the Rossies came into this contest on the back of an 11-week break, but they certainly looked like a team that were used to playing football as they easily clicked into gear, moving the ball at a tempo that Leitrim simply couldn’t live with.
Their inside forward line of Donie Smith, Diarmuid Murtagh and Ciarán Murtagh was in superb form and their cohesive lines of running opened up space that Roscommon exploited superbly in the opening minutes, firing over four points without reply.
It wasn’t until the sixth minute that Leitrim finally made their way inside scoring range but once they did, they made it count in spectacular fashion, Darragh Rooney blasting the ball to the net with his right foot from the corner of the large rectangle.
Their fast start negated in one fell swoop, Roscommon could easily have wavered off course but instead they slipped right back into their groove and fired over two excellent points from play in quick succession before they breached the Leitrim goal for the first time.
Powerful runs from deep positions by Gary Patterson and Enda Smith set the midfielder up close to goal and he duly went for goal, only to see his effort well parried by Brendan Flynn. The Leitrim custodian could only look on however as the ball rebounded perfectly into the chest of Conor Devaney, who was left with an easy finish.
Leitrim’s defensive play was superb in the second quarter and they held the Rossies to just 1-2, Devaney converting another goal from close range, However they made no impression at the other end of the field and so trailed by 2-9 to 1-2 at the interval.
And just as they had done in the first half, Roscommon burst out of the blocks after half time and picked off a series of scores. Diarmuid Murtagh was nothing short of superb and he fired over points from all angles, while his brother Ciarán was also unlucky not to register a goal when his penalty – awarded for a foul by Michael McWeeney on Brian Stack – grazed the crossbar on the way over for a point.
Darragh Rooney, substitute Ronan Kennedy and Shane Moran continued to work hard in the Leitrim forward line but they were living off scraps, while at the other end of the field Roscommon continued to pick off points with ease.
Rossie manager Kevin McStay expressed some concern in advance of this game about how little his substitutes were contributing off the bench and he’ll be somewhat worried that he didn’t get more of an impact from those players he brought on.
Otherwise the ex-Mayo attacker can be very happy with a solid day’s work, in advance of what should be an infinitely tougher test against Galway in the Connacht final.
Roscommon Scorers: D Murtagh 0-7 (0-1f), C Devaney 2-1, Ciaran Murtagh 0-4 (0-3f, 0-1 pen), E Smith 0-3, F Cregg & B Stack 0-2 each, D Smith, N Kilroy, C Connolly & S Killoran 0-1 each.
Leitrim Scorers: D Rooney 1-2, K Beirne 0-3 (0-1f), R Kennedy 0-2, D Moran & B Gallagher 0-1 each.
Roscommon: C Lavin; G Patterson, J McManus, N McInerney; S McDermott, S Mullooly, C Devaney; E Smith, T O’Rourke; F Cregg, N Kilroy, B Stack; C Murtagh, D Murtagh, D Smith
Subs: C Connolly for Smith (14 – bc), C Compton for Connolly (45), R Stack for Kilroy (45), S Killoran for Patterson (48), B Murtagh for B Stack (60), T Featherston for C Murtagh (65)
Leitrim: B Flynn; N Plunkett, D Wrynn, P Maguire; J Rooney, M McWeeney, O Madden; D Moran, S Moran; C Gaffney, R O’Rourke; K Beirne, B Gallagher, D Rooney.
Subs: N McGovern for D Moran (35+3 – bc), R Kennedy for D McGovern (35+6), G Reynolds for McWeeney (45 – bc), C Cullen for O’Rourke (47), R Gallagher for Wrynn (58), G Plunkett for Gallagher (67)
Referee: Anthony Nolan (Wicklow)