THOMAS CORCORAN kept Roscommon in line for a repeat of their 2006 All-Ireland title success with two spectacular free-kick conversions at Croke Park.
The Connacht county have built a reputation as a team that simply won’t lie down.
They famously struck late in the 2006 final at Croke Park to take Kerry to a replay before winning against the odds in Ennis. They repeated the victory over the Kingdom in 2009 after extra-time, albeit in the quarter-finals, and on Saturday proved themselves the ultimate dogs of war once again at the last eight stage.
They looked a beaten team at different times in both normal and extra-time but Corcoran provided the inspiration on both occasions to haul them back from the brink.
Firstly, he converted a free kick from 45 metres at the Canal End in the first minute of injury time to force the game to extra-time.
It appeared that Roscommon had finally run out of steam when they fell three down in the extra period to an Armagh side inspired by full-forward Paul McGeown. But the Rossies saved their strongest kick for the last lap, drawing level before winning a free in almost the exact same spot as earlier. Again, Corcoran held his nerve to secure a most amazing win with an assured kick.
“Two great frees but that’s part of his job,” said Roscommon manager Ross Shannon. “It’s like everyone who has a job — I’m the manager and have my job and he has his job on the field. I gave him his role as free taker and, no more than Donie Smith, he did his job. You have to take the frees and put them over because they’re big moments in games in modern football. I had full confidence in him to slot them over and full confidence in all the lads including the subs. The lads that came on did very well too and that’s part and parcel of the game too.”
The character laden success has got Roscommon fans dreaming of another shot at All-Ireland glory to match their breakthrough success of 2006.
“It was nice in ‘06, I was part of the backroom team myself,” continued Shannon. “But it’s a different era. it’s a different bunch. We’re developing a team and trying to keep the structure going. Hopefully, we can keep it going and give it a right rattle.”
Roscommon edged the first-half scoring, 0-6 to 0-4, after initially falling three down but bounced back with a stronger foothold at midfield. McGeown was causing real problems for Roscommom when he got on the ball and corner-forward Ryan McShane found similar form for Armagh after the break. McShane picked off three points and twice Armagh held one point leads late on, including in injury-time. But Corcoran held his nerve for the first of two occasions by slotting over the equaliser from a lengthy range, repeating the feat from almost the very same spot late in extra-time to the jubilation of the large Roscommon crowd.
Scorers for Roscommon: D Smith 1-2; T Corcoran 0-4 (4f); C Daly & K Finn 0-3; F Sweeney 0-2; S Jordan & E Smith 0-1 each.
Scorers for Armagh: P McGeown 0-5 (2f); C O’Hanlon & R McShane 0-3 each; M McKenna 0-2; C Trainor, P Burns, M Carson (1f), D McQuade & C McNally 0-1 each.
ROSCOMMON: C Lavin; D Murray, R Timothy, S Carty; C Daly, J McManus, M Connaughton; F Kelly, T Corcoran; L Conlon, M Healy, E Smith; E Lannon, D Smith, S Jordan.
Subs: K Finn for Lannon 18, D O’Dowd for Murray 34, F Sweeney for S Jordan 45, T McKenna for Kelly 54. A Gleeson for E Smith 67, D Brandon for Daly 78.
ARMAGH: D O’Hagan; M Murphy, C Hoey, B McCarron; P Burns, C White, S Hughes; A Findon, D McQuade; P Og Grant, C O’Hanlon, M McKenna; C Trainor, P McGeown, R McShane.
Subs: M Carson for Grant h/t, E Rafferty for Hughes 36, C McNally for Trainor 54. C Cumiskey for Carson 68, C Gough for McQuade 78.
Referee: C Lane (Cork).
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