Galway secured their 46th Connacht title and claimed the first spot in the Super 8s as Shane Walsh turned on the style at Dr Hyde Park yesterday.
The two halves couldn’t have been more contrasting here as Roscommon bossed the opening period but only led by three at the interval, while Galway showed their class after the break to win convincingly.
In the second period against the wind, Galway only kicked two wides, while Roscommon added seven to their tally and failed to score from open play in that 40-minute period.
A converted penalty from Conor Devaney still gave Roscommon the lead with six minutes remaining as Galway’s good work threatened to go unrewarded, but with Sean Armstrong displaying a cool head after his arrival, Walsh, Damien Comer, and company ensured a relaxing run through the tape for the Tribesmen.
“Today was about today. It was important, particularly after what happened last year. I won’t go behind the curtain on that but we really felt that we just didn’t perform last year,” said Galway manager Kevin Walsh.
After 17 minutes Roscommon held a 0-4 to 0-1 lead and Galway looked in trouble. Diarmuid Murtagh kicked the first two points of the game from play — either side of a super Walsh point — while the Roscommon full-forward added a free and Donie Smith put them in control.
After 20 minutes Walsh showed his class with the score of the game.
A chip lift on the run saw him take possession before he curled over a wonder point off his right.
But after 22 minutes Roscommon looked to have taken a decisive step towards retaining their Connacht crown: Ciaráin Murtagh beat Barry McHugh easily in defence, cut in along the endline, and
finished smartly past Ruairi Lavelle.
Galway, crucially, landed three of the last four points of the half, including a Walsh free off his left, to make it 1-5 to 0-5 at the break.
“Were we off-colour? Of course, we were off-colour at that point,” said Kevin Walsh.
“That’s something we addressed at half-time. But, in the long run, it’s probably a good thing to experience — that these boys had to knuckle down and dig deep.
“And when the penalty (in the second half) came again after going two points up… it was hard work to go two points up, and on the sideline it’s tough when those things happen. But in fairness you put your faith in the lads and it’s a good experience now to have to dig that out.”
Diarmuid Murtagh stretched Roscommon’s lead to four points just after the break, but that would prove to be their final point of the game.
From there Galway set about trimming the deficit and by the 58th minute they were ahead for the first time when Walsh slotted his eighth score.
Roscommon were not dead, though, and in the 64th minute Tom Flynn fouled Diarmuid Murtagh and Devaney dispatched the penalty with style to reclaim the lead.
From there to the finish Galway took over yet again.
Sean Armstrong was brilliant after his introduction and levelled straight away, before Damien Comer hit two, Adrian Varley scored, and Ian Burke rounded off a fine display with his third.
The pain of defeat was evident in Roscommon boss Kevin McStay’s post match briefing.
“We’re upset, we’re disappointed because it’s going to hurt,” said McStay.
“We’ll be feeling forever this was one… I don’t want to disrespect Galway and say we left it behind but this was certainly one where we had a great chance to retain our title.
“That’s going to hurt us a bit. But because we’re still alive; it’s not like as champions we were blown away like people thought we would be.
“We fought to the bitter end. They got a few points in garbage time; I wouldn’t worry about that. It was probably a one-point game, really.”
He added: “Our big fear was it was going to loosen up, as it always does in these games, and runners were going to come in. Galway just had that bit more freshness in their runners near the end.”
Scorers for Galway:
S Walsh 0-8 (4f), I Burke 0-3, D Comer 0-2, S Kelly 0-1, S Armstrong 0-1, A Varley 0-1.
Scorers for Roscommon:
D Murtagh 0-5 (2f), C Murtagh 1-0, C Devaney 1-0, D Smith 0-1.
R Lavelle; D Kyne, S O’Ceallaigh, D Wynne; C Sweeney, G Bradshaw, J Heaney; P Conroy, T Flynn; E Brannigan, B McHugh, S Kelly; I Burke, D Comer, S Walsh.
C Duggan for Conroy (46), S Armstrong for McHugh (49), E Kerin for Wynne (50), P Cooke for Heaney (65), A Varley for Brannigan (70), G O’Donnell for O’Ceallaigh (73).
C Lavin; D Murray, P Domican, N McInerney; J McManus, F Cregg, B Stack; C Compton, T O’Rourke; C Murtagh, E Smith, C Devaney; D Smith, D Murtagh, N Kilroy.
U Harney for Compton (30), F Lennon for Murray (53, black card), C Cregg for Stack (56), F Cregg for C Murtagh (61), R Stack for Kilroy (71).
D Coldrick (Meath).
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved