Roscommon fell short to Galway once again in an entertaining and competitive FBD Connacht League Final in Kiltoom this afternoon.
Roscommon started brightly and led by 0-5 to 0-2 after 13 minutes; the scores coming from a Donie Smith Free, Fintan Cregg, Cian Connolly, Ciarain Murtagh and a second for Smith. The 20 minutes that followed was a period that the Roscommon forwards may want to forget. Although they had plenty of possession and played some slick inter-changes, many of the moves broke down due to wrong options being taken at crucial times. This suited Galway’s physical and counter-attacking style. They scored 1-3 without reply before Roscommon’s next score, a pointed free from Ciarain Murtagh, in the 22nd minute.
Leading by 1-5 to 0-6 Galway continued to apply pressure. The Roscommon defence got the better of them on a number of occasions, with Thomas Fetherston showing his strength. The next score came in the 29th minute courtesy of a Galway free. Two minutes later Seanie McDermott finished off a fine team move and reduced the lead to two. Galway responded with two of their own in the 33rd and 35th minutes to make it 1-8 to 0-7 but a point from the impressive Donie Smith in the second minute of injury time left just a goal between them at the interval.
Kevin McStay made three changes at half-time, introducing Conor Devaney, Enda Smith and David Murray for Shane Killoran, Fintan Cregg and John McManus.
Donie Smith continued where he left off, kicking the first point of the half in the opening minute. Galway responded by scoring 1-1 in the space of three minutes, the goal coming from Danny Cummins after some mishandling on the Roscommon line. Donie Smith kick two points in the space of a minute – one from play, the other from a free, to make it Roscommon 0-11 Galway 2-9 after 44 minutes.
Thomas Corcoran and Cian Connolly were replaced by Niall Kilroy and Kevin Higgins in the 50th minute. Shortly after Donie Smith narrowed the gap to three with another free. Roscommon’s hopes of a fightback were further boosted in the 55th minute when Declan Coyne received his marching orders with 15 minutes remaining following a foul on Ciarain Murtagh. It was his second offence of the game after picking up a yellow in the first half.
Galway’s 17 minute search for a score ended in the Barry McHugh pointed a free in the 59th minute. Moments later an Niall Daly shot on goal was blocked on the line and after some consultation with his Umpires over a possible foot-block the Referee awarded a hop-ball for a previous incident rather than a penalty. Niall Kilroy kept Roscommon in touch with a free in the 64th minute but it was nullified by a pointed free at the other end.
Roscommon’s numerical advantage was cancelled out with four minutes remaining when Enda Smith received a Black Card for an apparent trip. Galway scored from the resulting free and added two more from play to tighten their grip on the Paddy Francis Dwyer Cup. A Conor Devaney point reduced the lead but Galway responded with one of their own almost immediately and put six between the sides again. With four minutes of additional time signalled Roscommon went in search of goals. A low powerful shot from Kevin Higgins in the 73rd minute went just over the bar and it proved to be the last score of the game. It ended Roscommon 0-15 Galway 2-14.
Speaking after the game Ronan Stack was able to take some positives, despite the defeat
Darren O’Malley; Seán McDermott 0-1, Tom Featherston, Niall McInerney; Ronan Stack, Seán Mullooly; John McManus; Tom Corcoran, Tadhg O’Rourke; Fintan Cregg 0-1, Ciaráin Murtagh (C) 0-2, (1f), Shane Killoran; Cian Connolly 0-1, Ultan Harney, Donie Smith 0-7, 3f.
Conor Devaney 0-1, for Killoran (HT)
Enda Smith for Cregg (HT)
David Murray for McManus(HT)
Niall Kilroy 0-1 (1f) for Connolly (50)
Kevin Higgins 0-1 for Corcoran (51)
Niall Daly for D Smith (59).
Kevin McStay and his selectors are due to sit down tonight and reduced their pre-season panel ahead of announcing their 30 man Allianz League squad on Tuesday. It is highly unlikely that Cathal Cregg or Neil Collins will be involved this year. Cathal Cregg is currently completing his PhD and Neil Collins is set to move to New York in April due to work commitments.
Next up is a trip to Omagh for the opening game of the League next Sunday, February 5th, at 2pm.