Anthony Cunningham hailed his side’s courage and heart as the 2017 Connacht champions surprised Monaghan at Dr Hyde Park.
Roscommon lost Conor Cox and Tadhg O’Rourke to black cards in the space of a minute, but Enda Smith’s coolly-taken penalty, as the game ticked into additional-time, nudged his side into a two-point free.
Frees from Jack McCarron and Conor McManus brought it level but Malachy O’Rourke’s side lost Stephen O’Hanlon, one of the goalscoring heroes against the Dubs, to a straight red card moments after his introduction.
The home side duly seized the moment and after Conor Cox, making his competitive debut, landed an audacious free, Ronan Daly’s surging run procured the insurance score.
“We’re learning all the time. There’s great work going on in the background with Iain Daly, Mark Dowd and Noel Flynn, our strength and conditioning coach, and the backroom team. But the guys are responding. We wouldn’t be doing all this work if we weren’t getting a response,” said Cunningham.
“The guys showed massive character. When you’re up against Monaghan, one of the best teams in the country, and they go ahead in the last few minutes, it’s a great learning curve for any side.
"We’ll take all those learning points from today and put them in the bank for next weekend.
“We showed great courage against a very experienced team. We’ll put that in the locker, build on it and use it. I’m sure we’ll have many days like that in the next while because all these teams are so competitive and so close,” he continued.
Roscommon were 0-6 to 0-4 ahead at the break, but their lead should have been greater.
Eight first-half wides threatened their superiority, and it took a great save from Rory Beggan to deny Evan McGrath a goal in the 23rd minute.
Colin Walshe’s pinpoint pass found his wing-back colleague Dessie Ward, and he opened the scoring after five minutes.
Smith restored parity before debutant Conor Cox, having transferred back to his home club Listowel Emmets from Éire Óg during the week, guided a 45-metre free over the crossbar with the outside of his boot.
Pressure on Rory Beggan’s kickout procured a point for Niall Kilroy before Jack McCarron finished off a neat Monaghan move with a score.
But Roscommon were generally frustrating the Monaghan attack, and centre back Niall Daly landed a monstrous effort from distance to open up a 0-4 to 0-2 lead.
Beggan eroded the deficit from a free before thwarting McGrath shortly afterwards. O’Malley, from the resultant ’45, and Beggan swapped scores before Cox landed his second free of the afternoon to restore his side’s two-point advantage at the interval.
Buoyed by the introduction of McManus at the break, Monaghan soon wiped out their opponents’ advantage, and hit the front when Ward bagged his second point of the afternoon after 39 minutes.
The teams traded scores for the next 20 minutes, with McManus, Fintan Kelly and Dermot Malone keeping the scoreboard ticking over for Monaghan.
Harney, Cox (free) and Niall Kilroy did likewise for Roscommon before the late drama yielded two precious league points ahead of the visit of Tyrone on Sunday next.
“It’s our third game in a row on the back of two FBD League games, so it is difficult. Tyrone really are the second best team in the country.
"They’ve deserved all the accolades they’ve received over the last few years. But we’ll welcome them and I’m sure they’ll be pulling out all the stops as they have to get a win,” concluded Cunningham.
C Cox (0-5 frees); E Smith (1-1, 1-0 pen); N Kilroy (0-2); N Daly, D O’Malley (45), U Harney, R Daly (0-1 each).
C McManus (0-4, 3 frees); J McCarron (1 free), R Beggan (2 frees), D Ward (0-2 each); C McCarthy (1 mark), F Kelly, D Malone (0-1 each).
D O’Malley; D Murray, C Daly, E McGrath; C Hussey, N Daly, R Daly; T O’Rourke, E Smith; S Killoran, U Harney, N Kilroy; C Cox, C Compton, C Cregg.
C Lennon for Compton (24), C Devaney for Cregg (51). H Darcy for Kilroy (61), C Fitzmaurice for Harney (70), G Patterson for Lennon (70)
R Beggan; K Duffy, C Boyle, R Wylie; D Ward, B Kerr, C Walshe; D Hughes, F Kelly; S Carey, D Malone, G Doogan; C McCarthy, J McCarron, M Bannigan.
D Wylie for Boyle (14), C McManus for Bannigan (h/t), R McAnespie for Doogan (51), K O’Connell for Carey (54), S O’Hanlon for McCarthy (66).
S Hurson (Tyrone).