Dublin’s second-half revival secured a deserved five-point win at a damp Dr Hyde Park, a result which was harsh on their hardworking hosts.
When David Murray and Conor Cox propelled the Rossies 1-11 to 1-9 clear after 38 minutes, the home side dared to dream, but Dublin aren’t usually in the mood to accommodate the opposition’s wishes and 1-5 without reply, helped by Dean Rock’s scrappy 50th minute goal, set them to victory.
For Roscommon boss Anthony Cunningham, it was a chance lost, given the way his side had performed in the opening half.
“We’re disappointed with the second half. You’d have to credit the guys for a tremendous first half. We were worth our position at half-time, but we’re a bit disappointed with the second half. We didn’t get to the levels we wanted to.
“Dublin are Dublin, they’re an outstanding team. No matter who they’ve out on the pitch, they’re brilliant footballers and play to a brilliant system. That is the level we want to get to, so we’re disappointed with the result, because I thought we’d a super chance, but there’s loads to work on.”
The sides were well-matched early on, though Dublin appeared to find scores easier to come by. Niall Scully and Conor Cox shared the opening two points, before Colm Basquel and a mark from Paddy Andrews propelled the All-Ireland champions 0-3 to 0-1 ahead after six minutes.
Roscommon, however, were unrecognisable from their sluggish display against Cavan a week earlier, and Donie Smith and Ciarán Lennon (mark) had them back level after 12 minutes.
By the time they scored again, however, Dublin had struck for 1-3. O’Callaghan and Dean Rock (a free) found the range, before O’Callaghan lashed the ball past Colm Lavin after possession won by Rock broke his way.
However, Roscommon enjoyed their best spell, as they more than matched their opponents in all departments, helped by Cathal Cregg’s 29th-minute goal.
When Padraig O’Sullivan blew his half-time whistle, Roscommon were back level with three points on the bounce from Cox (free), Ronan Daly and Enda Smith to leave the sides on 1-9 apiece.
Dublin were expected to kick on in the second half, but Roscommon managed to hit the after-burners, with early points from Murray and Cox. A shock was on the cards, but Dublin flexed their muscles with a free from Rock, who then availed of a goalmouth scramble to land his side’s second goal after 50 minutes.
As Roscommon struggled to gain traction from their own kickouts around the middle, a ’45 and free from Rock pushed Jim Gavin’s men further ahead and, when Scully and Darren Gavin added points from play, the Dubs were on their way. Sub Aengus Lyons ended Roscommon’s 31-minute scoring drought. At this stage, however, the home side had lost Conor Devaney to a second yellow card, as Dublin’s quest for another league title remained very much alive.
Our focus now will be on just reviewing that game and learning as much as we can from it. To come to Dr Hyde Park, it’s a fantastic ground and to get two points here, they are really well earned
“They went ahead by two points in the second half and it was a great test for our character, and the desire of the Dublin players, and I thought they responded to that really well and we finished strongly,” said Gavin, before explaining his decision to replace Evan Comerford with Stephen Cluxton.
“It (the decision) was made just late in the week. Stephen’s just back with us now, this will be his third week back. Evan has done really well in the games that he’s played.”
D Rock 1-5 (4fs, 1’45), C O’Callaghan 1-1, P Andrews 0-3 (1 mark), N Scully 0-2, C Basquel, C O’Connor, D Gavin 0-1 each
C Cox 0-4 (1f), C Cregg 1-0, D Smith C Lennon (1 mark), N Kilroy, C Lavin (’45), R Daly, E Smith, D Murray, A Lyons 0-1 each.
S Cluxton; J Cooper, D Byrne, A McGowan; J McCaffrey, C O’Sullivan, C O’Connor; B Fenton, D Gavin; N Scully, C O’Callaghan, C Basquel; C Costello, D Rock, P Andrews.
R McDaid for McCaffrey (9), P Mannion for Costello (44), P Flynn for Basquel (52), B Howard for McGowan (52), MD MacAauley for Fenton (70).
C Lavin; D Murray, C Daly, G Patterson; C Devaney, N Daly, R Daly; T O’Rourke, S Killoran; N Kilroy, D Smith, E Smith; C Lennon, Cox, C Cregg.
S Mullooly for Kilroy (52), C Compton for E Smith (52), A Lyons for Cregg (57), C Hussey for Killoran (59), H Darcy for D Smith (64).
P O’Sullivan (Kerry).