Cian McKeon’s goal from a blistering 59th-minute counter-attack turned out to be the decisive score for Roscommon in their defeat of Sligo in an entertaining FBD Connacht SFL quarter-final at Markievicz Park.
The game’s only goal got an efficient Roscommon side over the line and into next Sunday’s semi-final against Leitrim, with the goalscorer impressing along with midfielder Shane Killoran and inside-forwards Andrew Glennon and Ciaran Lennon.
This defeat extends Sligo’s losing streak to 13 games, the county last winning at senior level back in May of 2018.
Despite there being a more experimental feel to Roscommon’s selection — there were only two players from the team that started last year’s Connacht final — the visitors were more decisive and led 0-9 to 0-4 after a breeze-assisted opening period.
Aside from McKeon’s strike, there were four other clear-cut goal opportunities for Roscommon — Andrew Glennon, Henry Walsh, Shane Killoran, and Cian McKeon could all have scored — with three of these chances denied by Sligo goalkeeper Aidan Devaney.
The winners also coped well with a 22nd-minute black card for Andrew Glennon, the only player sent to the sin bin.
Sligo, undermined by 12 wides, were without talisman Niall Murphy, who has taken a year out from inter-county duties, but they still conjured decent phases — they were just two points down, 0-12 to 0-10, when Cian McKeon netted the game-changing score.
There were notable scoring contributions from midfielder Patrick O’Connor — Sligo’s new team captain — and corner-forward Liam Gaughan, each bagging five points, with wing-back Sean Carrabine also doing well.
The respective managers, Roscommon’s Anthony Cunningham and Paul Taylor of Sligo, both reckoned it was an afternoon for positives.
“This competitive game gives us a chance to assess players,” said Cunningham. “We would be happy with the result, but it was a typical early season performance – we’ve loads to improve on.”
Sligo boss Paul Taylor, who has no competitive games until the end of the month, stated: “It was a tough game for us. We came up against a really good side.”
“I thought with 15 minutes to go we were actually where we wanted to be in the game – we were just two points down with a good breeze. We made a few mistakes and got punished for them.”
Sligo scorers: Patrick O’Connor (0-5, 3f), Liam Gaughan (0-5, 3f), Darragh Cummins (0-2), Paul Kilcoyne (0-1, 1f), Conor Griffin (0-1, 1f)
Roscommon scorers: Cian McKeon (1-4, 2f), Shane Killoran (0-3), Andrew Glennon (0-3), Ciaran Lennon (0-2), Henry Walsh (0-1), Finbar Cregg (0-1, 1f), Conor Cox (0-1, 1f)
SLIGO: A Devaney, JF Carr, E McHugh, M Gordon, N Mullen, P McNamara, S Carrabine, P O’Connor, P Kilcoyne, G O’Kelly-Lynch, C Griffin, N Ewing, L Gaughan, P Hughes, D Quinn
Subs: K Cawley for D Quinn, h-t; J O’Reilly for N Ewing, 54; D Cummins for C Griffin, 57; S Coen for P Hughes, 59; E McGuinness for JF Carr, 62
ROSCOMMON: A Brady, D Neary, B Stack, E Flynn, P Scott, E McGrath, R Hughes, T O’Rourke, S Killoran, H Darcy, C McKeon, F Cregg, A Glennon, C Lennon, H Walsh.
Subs: D Ruane for H Walsh, 45; R Daly for E McGrath, 51; E Smith for H Darcy, 55; E Nolan for T O’Rourke, 57; C Cox for A Glennon, 60.
Referee: Jerome Henry (Mayo).