Roscommon 1-14 London 0-10: Ruislip hosted its final championship match before redevelopment yesterday but the dilapidated old ground went out with a whimper as Roscommon coasted past their London hosts and into a Connacht semi-final.
John Evans’ men have bigger fish to fry this summer and they had victory in the English capital sewn up with over 20 minutes remaining.
Evans enjoyed a brief stint in London during the 1970s, winning a senior and All-Britain championship with The Kingdom, but even he was taken aback by what was more “a gala occasion” than a Connacht Championship match.
Roscommon were happy to hit their hosts on the counter-attack for large spells, and took their foot off the gas following Ciarain Murtagh’s 49th-minute goal.
Lorcan Mulvey, a 2013 All Star nominee, kicked eight points, but he and London left more scores behind them. They registered 18 wides; had another London forward brought their shooting boots we would have been treated to a much closer contest.
“There was an awful lot of missed scores, missed chances,” admitted Evans. “Look, we just came to do the job and I’ll talk about London because I think London deserve a lot of credit here.
“They kept going and you could see they were very enthusiastic under Paul Coggins. They kept trying and trying and trying. You know they kept us to 15 scores and they scored 10 themselves. They can be very proud of their game.
“Coming over here, it’s more a gala occasion than anything but it’s the first round of the championship for us and it’s a runout and there were some very good passages of play.
“I think the tackling was very strong. I hope we’ve come away without a few serious knocks out of it. I thought the game was a bit physical but again it’s predominantly a lot of chances (missed).”
Evans felt his side did “just enough” but they looked on course for a one-sided victory during the opening quarter. The pace and movement of the Roscommon forwards negated London’s blanket defence and yielded three points in the opening four minutes.
Mark Gottsche ensured it wasn’t completely one-way traffic, the London midfielder making some lung-busting runs. But by the end of the first quarter Roscommon led by four and Cathal Cregg had forced Declan Traynor into a good save. Traynor was again called into action on 24 minutes when Donie Shine profited from some non-existent marking. He was denied by a stunning fingertip save from the 37-year-old Meath native.
A trio of points from Mulvey left London trailing by 0-11 to 0-5 at half time, but Roscommon put the game to bed within four minutes of the restart.
Cathal Shine pointed after just 30 seconds and although Mulvey replied with a booming 50m free, London’s hopes of a first win over the Rossies were ended when Murtagh found the net. The ball broke to the right of goal and Donal Ward beat the onrushing Philip Butler to the ball, shipping a heavy knock for his efforts. His bravery didn’t go unrewarded though, as Murtagh struck a low shot past Traynor to put Roscommon nine points to the good.
Job seemingly done, Evans signalled for the subs to warm up. But unlike teams in the past, London refused to throw in the towel. Gottsche found a second wind, while Mulvey came to the fore. Unfortunately for the hosts, there were more wides than scores and the confidence drained out of their forwards.
“We were just doing enough and it’s Sligo now. It’s a different ball game, we’re back at home but we’re focused on the Connacht Championship from here on in,” said Evans.
“But full credit to London, I thought they were very passionate about it — their tackling, their energy, their work rate was superb. London hit 15 (wides) altogether and to be fair none of them were too far away. They had a lot of energy. Look, you play what’s in front of you, had we been four points down it would be a different game.”
His counterpart Paul Coggins was in agreement. Had his forwards not suffered a dose of the yips in the second half, he might have been celebrating a surprise victory over his home county. “I felt it was a very good performance, I really did,” he said. “Effort, energy, discipline, we were given no chance whatsoever, absolutely none. We weren’t even a banana skin.”
Scorers for Roscommon:
C Murtagh 1-2, E Smith 0-4, D Shine (2f), C Shine, D Murtagh 0-2 each, I Kilbride, U Harney 0-1 each.
Scorers for London:
L Mulvey 0-8 (5f), A Moyles (f), A O’Hara 0-1.
D O’Malley; S McDermott, N Carty, N Collins; D Ward, N Daly, C Cafferky; I Kilbride, C Shine; E Smith, D Shine, C Murtagh; D Murtagh, S Kilbride, C Cregg.
R Stack for Ward (40), Cian Connolly for Kilbride (49), U Harney for Smith (49), D Smith for D Murtagh (55), T Featherston for Carty (58), R Daly for C Murtagh (61).
D Traynor; B Collins, P Butler, D McGreevey; D McCarthy, C Carty, S Curran; M Gottsche, M Carroll; S Conory, C Creene, J Moran; A O’Hara, L Mulvey, A Moyles.
P O’Shea for Greene (22, black card), P McGoldrick for Moyles (43), M Walsh for Moran (46), A Carr for Carroll (58), S Devine for McCarthy (60), S Buckley for Conroy (69).
E Kinsella (Laois).
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